Houthi rebels target British naval vessel


England’s defense minister, Grant Shapps, says the United Kingdom remains “undaunted” after the British navy successfully repelled an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

These Iran-backed rebels targeted a British naval vessel in the Red Sea on Saturday. However, the group’s drone was shot down by the targeted HMS Diamond.

“By deploying the Sea Viper missile system, Diamond destroyed a drone that was targeting her,” Shapps said on social media platform X.

He described the ongoing attacks as “intolerable and illegal” but said the UK would not be deterred.

No one on board HMS Diamond was injured in the incident and the vessel was not damaged.

On January 12, US and British forces launched the first joint strikes aimed at disrupting the Houthi rebels’ ability to attack merchant vessels in the Red Sea.

The rebels claim their attacks are in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip where the war between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas rages on.

The attacks in the Red Sea began in November last year, shortly after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.

The rebels are part of an anti-Israel and anti-Western alliance. Their attacks pose a major threat to international trade, as the Red Sea carries a total of 12% of international maritime traffic.

Large cargo ships have already been diverted around Africa to the Cape to avoid attacks.

Rebels capitalize on hijackings

In the meantime, the rebels have opened one of the cargo ships they hijacked earlier to “tourists”, and are making money from it themselves.

The Galaxy Leader was hijacked in November and its crew members taken hostage. The ship and crew are still in Yemen.

AFP reports that for as little as $1 (about R18.80) per visit, all-male tour groups can walk through the vessel five times a week.

The vessel is also decorated with Yemeni and Palestinian flags.

The rebels consider the vessel a “trophy” in their struggle to support the Palestinian population.

Zubair al-Haidari from the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa, says he traveled five hours to view the ship.

“It is our pride and honor that our armed forces were able to perform this wonderful work to support our oppressed brothers in Palestine and Gaza,” he told AFP.

He was one of ten visitors who took pictures of the cargo ship while they nibbled on food.

Visitors to the ship performed a traditional dance with daggers that Yemenis usually carry in their belts. This while chanting glorified Houthi rebels.

However, there is no word on the whereabouts of the missing crew members who were taken hostage in November. The 25 crew members are mainly Bulgarian, Filipino, Ukrainian and Mexican.