The leader of Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, said on Thursday that his movement’s operations against merchant ships would be stepped up to prevent ships he says are linked to Israel from crossing the Indian Ocean to the Cape. of Good Hope.

“Our main battle is to prevent ships associated with the Israeli enemy from passing not only from the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but also from the Indian Ocean to the Cape of Good Hope. This is a big step and we have started to proceed with operations,” said the leader of Yemen’s Ansar Allah (“Supporters of God”) movement, better known by the family name of its leaders.

The movement, considered close to Iran, began launching attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in a show of “solidarity” with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip amid the Israel/Hamas war.

About 34 members of the movement have been killed since its operations began, Abdul Malik al-Houthi acknowledged in his speech yesterday.

Rebel attacks have forced many shipping companies to suspend their ships in the strategically important region, which before the war handled 12% to 15% of world trade. They also heighten concerns that the Israel/Hamas war could lead to regional conflagration.

Although, to counter the Houthis, the US, Israel’s main ally, formed a multinational coalition in December to “protect” freedom of navigation; although this month the European Union deployed its own naval force, the Shields mission; and although the American and British armed forces have repeatedly bombarded their positions in Yemeni territory since January, the rebels – Washington recently included them again in the list of “terrorist” organizations it draws up – are not stopping, on the contrary, they are planning to escalate the attacks.

In addition to the Houthi action, exchanges of fire are daily on the Israeli-Lebanese border between the Israeli army and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah faction, while Iraqi armed groups close to Tehran have launched more than a hundred attacks against bases where US troops are stationed.