The Houthis in Yemen have announced that vessels linked with the US, UK and Israel are “banned” from sailing in the Red Sea and surrounding waters as part of efforts to strengthen their military campaign, according to news reports. 

In solidarity with Palestine, the Houthis have introduced “submarine weapons”, a Houthi leader said, according to Saudi’s state-owned news agency Al Arabiya. Further details of the submarine weapons remain undetermined.

On Thursday, the Houthi’s Humanitarian Operations Coordination Centre sent formal notices to shippers and insurers banning vessels linked to the three countries from sailing in surrounding seas, according to Reuters.

Vessels that are either fully or partially owned by individuals or entities of Israeli, or are of US or British origin, as well as those that sail under their flags, are impacted by this.

According to Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the military group’s leader, the Houthis will continue to attack ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters. 

“Operations in the Red and Arabian Seas, Bab al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden are continuing, escalating and effective,” Abdul Malik al-Houthi added in a televised speech reported by Al Arabiya

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Al-Houthi said that the attacks would “mirror escalations of Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip” and that retaliatory strikes by the US-British coalition have failed to stop the Houthi campaign. 

Yemen’s Houthis have taken responsibility for attacking a UK-owned cargo ship and for a drone attack on a US destroyer on 22 February.

The US Central Command (Centcom) said on social media platform X that “Centcom forces identified the missiles, launchers and [unmanned aircraft system] UAS originating from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the US Navy ships in the region.”

As “self-defence”, the US forces destroyed the missiles, launchers and UAS. 

The attacks in the Red Sea have forced operators to reroute their ships and take longer routes, which has increased the cost of commodities and travel times between East Asia and Europe. 

The strikes by the Houthis are causing disruptions to the crucial Suez Canal trade route, which is responsible for approximately 12% of worldwide maritime traffic.