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Red Sea Crisis

Houthi weapons have range for East Med Sea attack threat

Photo: Screenshot from Houthi video Screenshot 2024-05-06 at 11.54.50 AM.png
Screenshot from Houthi video showing drone attack on bulker Cyclades
Houthi forces in Yemen have escalated their threat against commercial shipping to include vessels headed to Israel from the East Mediterranean Sea.

The Houthi have been extending the range of their attacks from the Southern Red Sea to include a large swathe of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean and last week fired on the 15,000 teu containership MSC Orion some for 400 nm south of Yemen.

They now say they are upping the range of their strikes to include all vessels in the East Mediterranean Sea calling Israeli ports.

Security experts Ambrey said it was assessed that the Houthi have Unmanned Aeriel Vehicles (UACs) with the range to target merchant shipping in the East Med. “However, if launched from Yemen, there is also a higher chance of interception due to the presence of US and coalition warships, and Israeli and Egyptian air defences,” Ambrey said in a threat update.

Ambrey noted that the Houthis had repeatedly attempted to target Eilat, an Israeli port city in the Gulf of Aqaba, but with limited success. Attacks though could also come from other Iranian-backed “Islamic Resistance” groups based in the Eastern Med region.

“Air defences in Israel and coalition support to Israel are assessed to be largely effective but cannot guarantee to intercept all threats,” the security company added.

As well as saying they have extended the range of targets to the East Med the Houthi said that if Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) launch an offensive in Rafah they will target all ships and companies headed for Israel regardless of nationality.

Ambrey said a military operation by the IDF in Rafah was not assessed as a “foregone conclusion” with significant international opposition to such a move by Israel.

In terms of advice to shipping the security company said, “Vessels destined for Israeli ports are advised to engage intelligence and security services to assist with voyage planning, the selection and application of best management practices, digital watchkeeping, and crisis management.”

Ships headed to Israel were advised to withhold AIS destination information immediately.