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Missile Fired At Tanker Travelling From Malaysia To Italy, Houthis Warn Ships In Red Sea To Avoid Israel

Missile Fired At Tanker Travelling From Malaysia To Italy, Houthis Warn Ships In Red Sea To Avoid Israel

The Houthis said they will block any ships from going to Israel unless Israel allows food and medical aid into the Gaza Strip.

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Yemen’s Houthis attacked a Norwegian commercial tanker with a missile in protest against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

The attack took place about 60 nautical miles (111 km) north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at about 2100 GMT.

The tanker named the STRINDA was supposedly delivering crude oil to an Israeli terminal. Houthi military spokesperson Yehia Sarea said the group opened fire at the tanker after STRINDA’s crew ignored all warning calls.

However, the tanker’s owner, Norway’s Mowinckel Chemical Tankers, claimed the tanker was carrying biofuel feedstock and was on its way to Italy.

Data from shiptracking firm Kpler showed that the STRINDA had loaded vegetable oil and biofuels in Malaysia and was headed for Venice.

Italian energy firm Eni confirmed the ship was carrying 15 thousand tons of residues and waste from vegetable oil processing destined for Eni’s biorefineries in Italy.

Mowinckel Chemical Tankers did acknowledge a tentative Israeli port call scheduled in January, details it had not offered in the immediate hours after the attack in the Red Sea.

They decided to withhold this information upon the recommendation of their security advisors until the vessel and her crew were in safe waters.

In response to the attack, Israel’s military deployed one of its most advanced warships, a Sa’ar 6 class corvette, in the Red Sea.

Meanwhile, the US Navy destroyer Mason responded to the STRINDA’s distress call and assisted the crew. The STRINDA was on fire after getting struck by the land-based cruise missile fired from Houthi-controlled Yemen.

There were no casualties reported although the ship sustained damage.

The Houthis will target all ships heading to Israel

The Houthis, in solidarity with Palestine, have attacked ships heading to Israel, regardless of their nationality.

With control of Yemen’s western seaboard, including ports such as Hodeidah, they warned international shipping companies against dealing with Israeli ports.

They would continue blocking ships from Israeli ports until Israel allowed the entry of food and medical aid into the Gaza Strip.

Mohamed Ali al-Houthi, head of Yemen’s Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, said any ships passing by Yemen should keep radios turned on and quickly respond to Houthi attempts at communication.

He also warned cargo ships against falsifying their identity or raising flags different from the country belonging to cargo shipowner.

Reactions to the attack on a civilian ship

Norway’s deputy foreign minister Eivind Vad Petersson said the country condemns “in the strongest possible terms all attacks on civilian shipping.”

The US has also warned the Houthis that the peace plan for Yemen that was negotiated with Saudi Arabia and handed to the UN peace envoy will fail if the attacks on ships continue.

Some shipping companies have re-routed their ships via the Cape of Good Hope and away from the Red Sea. This decision will add journey times and incur additional costs.

The US is reportedly trying to organise a larger maritime protection force based out of Bahrain to prevent the world’s busiest shipping lanes from getting blocked, and crippling the global economy.

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