Lebanon: Aoun Uses Defense Minister to Settle Scores with Army Commander

Minister of Defense in the caretaker government receives the Army Commander on Dec. 1 (Photo: Ministry of Defense)
Minister of Defense in the caretaker government receives the Army Commander on Dec. 1 (Photo: Ministry of Defense)
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Lebanon: Aoun Uses Defense Minister to Settle Scores with Army Commander

Minister of Defense in the caretaker government receives the Army Commander on Dec. 1 (Photo: Ministry of Defense)
Minister of Defense in the caretaker government receives the Army Commander on Dec. 1 (Photo: Ministry of Defense)

Signs of a political clash began to emerge between Lebanon’s Minister of National Defense in the caretaker government, retired Brigadier General Maurice Slim, and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, over the appointment of an officer who would manage the Army’s General Inspection Authority.

The clash could have been avoided had it not been stirred by the insistence of former President Michel Aoun to settle scores with the Army general, and with the direct intervention of the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Gebran Bassil.

Bassil accused the Army chief of “leading the coup” against Aoun during the October 2019 protests.

Unnamed political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the relationship between Aoun and the Army general began to deteriorate since the beginning of the protests since the latter refused to use force against the demonstrators.

The sources added that Aoun provided the minister of defense with political cover in this dispute, adding that Bassil personally sponsored incitement campaigns against the Army commander in an attempt to distort his image at home and abroad.

The sources noted that the difference over the appointment of an officer in charge of managing the General Inspection in the army does not explain all this fabricated uproar.

According to the sources, the clash is not exclusively related to the powers of the minister of defense but represented an opportunity for the former President and his son-in-law (Bassil) to launch a campaign against the Army general and harm his credibility at the internal and external levels, with his name topping the list of presidential candidates alongside former Minister Sleiman Franjieh.



UN Aid Agency Says Israel Hasn’t Shown Evidence Its Workers Joined Rampage

Palestinians who fled from the northern Gaza Strip and Rafah town, outside their shelters in Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza Strip, 20 February 2024. (EPA)
Palestinians who fled from the northern Gaza Strip and Rafah town, outside their shelters in Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza Strip, 20 February 2024. (EPA)
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UN Aid Agency Says Israel Hasn’t Shown Evidence Its Workers Joined Rampage

Palestinians who fled from the northern Gaza Strip and Rafah town, outside their shelters in Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza Strip, 20 February 2024. (EPA)
Palestinians who fled from the northern Gaza Strip and Rafah town, outside their shelters in Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza Strip, 20 February 2024. (EPA)

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees says the United Nations still has not received any evidence from Israel supporting its claims that 12 of the agency’s employees participated in the Oct. 7 rampage that sparked the war.

Israel released a document last month identifying the 12 workers along with the allegations against them, and accusing some of participating in kidnappings. But it has released little of the evidence collected against the workers.

The allegations prompted key donors, including the United States, to suspend funding to UNRWA. The agency, the main provider of aid in Gaza, has warned it will have to halt its operations if funding is not soon restored.

Philippe Lazzarini, the director of UNRWA, has dismissed the 10 surviving workers; the agency says the other two were killed in fighting. The UN has also opened two investigations into UNRWA’s operations.

In a podcast Tuesday, Lazzarini said Israel still has not presented formal evidence to the UN.

“The UN has never, never, ever received any written dossier, despite our repeated call for cooperation from the Israeli authorities,” he said. He added that agency investigators are looking into the allegations and called on anyone with evidence to share it with the investigation team.

Israel has long accused UNRWA of tolerating Hamas activities in and around UN facilities and in some cases even cooperating with the militant group. Lazzarini has denied this and says his agency has safeguards in place to discipline any employee who violates the UN ideals of neutrality.


Lebanese Warehouse Hit in Israeli Strike Burns for the Second Day Ghazieh

Firefighters extinguish a fire at a destroyed warehouse that was targeted on Monday by Israeli airstrikes, at an industrial district in the southern coastal town of Ghazieh, Lebanon, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (AP)
Firefighters extinguish a fire at a destroyed warehouse that was targeted on Monday by Israeli airstrikes, at an industrial district in the southern coastal town of Ghazieh, Lebanon, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (AP)
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Lebanese Warehouse Hit in Israeli Strike Burns for the Second Day Ghazieh

Firefighters extinguish a fire at a destroyed warehouse that was targeted on Monday by Israeli airstrikes, at an industrial district in the southern coastal town of Ghazieh, Lebanon, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (AP)
Firefighters extinguish a fire at a destroyed warehouse that was targeted on Monday by Israeli airstrikes, at an industrial district in the southern coastal town of Ghazieh, Lebanon, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (AP)

Firefighters in southern Lebanon were battling a diesel fuel fire in a warehouse that was struck by Israeli jets for a second day Tuesday.

The Israeli military’s Arabic spokesperson Avichay Adraee said the attack Monday targeted a weapons warehouse that belonged to the militant group Hezbollah.

The strike that wounded 14 people was one of the largest near a major Lebanese city since clashes between the Israeli military and Hezbollah along the Lebanese-Israeli border erupted after the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7.

Mohamad Khalifa, the owner of the warehouse, denied allegations that the facility belonged to Hezbollah.

“This is a company registered for 11 years that works with electricity generators, open from morning until night, receiving customers all day,” he told The Associated Press. “There is nothing hidden here. The claim that this has weapons is a lie.”

The airstrike reduced the warehouse to scraps, with fuel fires slowly burning.


US Again Vetoes UN Action in Israel-Hamas War, Blocks Ceasefire Call

 Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies, as the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas continues, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, February 20, 2024. (Reuters)
Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies, as the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas continues, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, February 20, 2024. (Reuters)
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US Again Vetoes UN Action in Israel-Hamas War, Blocks Ceasefire Call

 Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies, as the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas continues, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, February 20, 2024. (Reuters)
Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies, as the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas continues, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, February 20, 2024. (Reuters)

The United States on Tuesday again vetoed a draft United Nations Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hamas war, blocking a demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire as it instead pushes the 15-member body to call for a temporary ceasefire linked to the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Thirteen council members voted in favor of the Algerian-drafted text, while Britain abstained. It was the third such US veto since the start of the current fighting on Oct. 7.

"A vote in favor of this draft resolution is support to the Palestinians right to life. Conversely, voting against it implies an endorsement of the brutal violence and collective punishment inflicted upon them," Algeria's UN Ambassador Amar Bendjama told the council before the vote.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield signaled on Saturday that the US would veto the draft resolution over concerns it could jeopardize talks between the US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar that seek to broker a pause in the war and the release of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

"Demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring about a durable peace. Instead, it could extend the fighting between Hamas and Israel," Thomas-Greenfield told the council ahead of the vote.

The Algerian-drafted resolution vetoed by the US did not link a ceasefire to the release of hostages. It separately demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

"Simply calling for a ceasefire - as this resolution does - will not make it happen," Britain's UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward told the council after the vote. "The way to stop the fighting, and potentially stop it from restarting, is to begin with a pause to get hostages out and aid in."

Temporary ceasefire

The US has now proposed a rival draft resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and opposing a major ground offensive by its ally Israel in Rafah, according to the text seen by Reuters on Monday. It said it plans to allow time for negotiations and will not rush to a vote.

Until now, Washington has been averse to the word ceasefire in any UN action on the Israel-Hamas war, but the US text echoes language that President Joe Biden said he used last week in conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The US draft resolution would see the Security Council "underscore its support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released, and calls for lifting all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale."

This is the second time since Oct. 7 that Washington has proposed a Security Council resolution on Gaza. Russia and China vetoed its first attempt in late October.

Washington traditionally shields Israel from UN action. But it has also abstained twice, allowing the council to adopt resolutions that aimed to boost aid to Gaza and called for extended pauses in fighting.

The war began when fighters from the Hamas militant group that runs Gaza attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. In retaliation, Israel launched a military assault on Gaza that health authorities say has killed nearly 29,000 Palestinians with thousands more bodies feared lost amid the ruins.

In December, more than three-quarters of the 193-member UN General Assembly voted to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. General Assembly resolutions are not binding but carry political weight, reflecting a global view on the war.


Iran Begins Efforts to Stop US-British Strikes Against Houthis

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani speaking to reporters (IRNA)
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani speaking to reporters (IRNA)
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Iran Begins Efforts to Stop US-British Strikes Against Houthis

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani speaking to reporters (IRNA)
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani speaking to reporters (IRNA)

Iran launched its diplomatic efforts to stop the US-British attacks on the Houthi group, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani.

Kanaani indicated that recent developments in the Red Sea are a result of the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at the weekly press conference, Kanaani announced that the UK-US attacks against Yemen violate the sovereignty of an independent and UN member state.

He described the attacks as a "flagrant act of aggression and adventure," accusing them of issuing "false claims" of not wanting to expand the scope of the war while they launched illegal and unilateral actions.

Hamas has been launching drone and missile attacks on ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since Nov. 19 in support of the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In response, US and British forces began launching air attacks on Houthi positions.

The spokesman reiterated Tehran's condemnation of the attacks, saying the situation in the "Red Sea is caused by the conditions that are going on in Gaza."

Iran has expressed its transparent position on the issue, he further noted.

- Boycotting Israeli goods in Iran

Kanaani asserted that boycotting Israeli goods is a demand of all free people in the world.

The spokesman explained that the Foreign Ministry must monitor and prepare a list of companies and goods associated with Israel under the law.

Last year, the authorities identified the companies and goods affiliated with Israel and updated the list submitted to the Trade Ministry and the Customs Administration.

Last December, Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf demanded that the Foreign Ministry provide a list of goods linked to Israeli companies.

Ghalibaf said the government must take the necessary measures to prevent the import of these goods.

Kanaani asserted that none of the known Israeli goods will be allowed to enter Iran.

- Gaza, post-war

He indicated that the "Zionist entity does want to stop the war," accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of seeking his interests through the ongoing war and lack of security and stability.

Kanaani defended the actions of the "Axis of Resistance" groups, referring to the recent visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian to Beirut.

Commenting on the death of Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers in Syria last month, Kanaani said officials on several occasions that any action against Iran will not go unanswered, and Tehran will respond to the Zionist action against it.

On Sunday, The Washington Post quoted Lebanese and Iraqi officials as saying that Iran is privately urging Hezbollah and other armed groups to exercise restraint against US forces.

"Iran may have realized their interests are not served by allowing their proxies unrestricted ability to attack US and coalition forces," one US official said.

"Iran is doing its utmost to prevent the expansion of the war and the escalation from reaching the point of no return," said an Iraqi official with close ties to Iranian-backed forces there.

The newspaper pointed out that Amirabdollahian praised the groups during a recent visit to Lebanon and promised continued support.

However, in private, Iranian emissaries have adopted a more measured tone. They've praised Hezbollah's sacrifices but cautioned that war with Israel would risk precious gains in the region, according to Washington Post sources.

Washington confirmed that Tehran enjoys a high level of control over its "agents" in the region. Tehran says it has provided funding, advice, and training to allies.

On Sunday, multiple Iranian and Iraqi sources told Reuters that the visit of the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, to Baghdad has led to a pause in attacks on US troops by Iran-aligned groups in Iraq.

Qaani met representatives of several of the armed groups in Baghdad airport on Jan. 29, less than 48 hours after Washington blamed the groups for the killing of three US soldiers at the Tower 22 outpost in Jordan, the sources said.

The sources added that Qaani informed the armed factions that shedding US blood risked a violent response and that they must move away from the scene to avoid launching a strike.

He said the militias should lie low to avoid US strikes on their senior commanders, destruction of key infrastructure, or even a direct retaliation against Iran, the sources said.

Since Feb. 4, there have been no attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria, compared to more than 20 attacks in the two weeks before Qaani's visit.


WHO Completes 2nd Gaza Hospital Evacuation amid Ongoing Raid

Medics transfer wounded Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt through the Rafah crossing on Sunday. (AFP)
Medics transfer wounded Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt through the Rafah crossing on Sunday. (AFP)
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WHO Completes 2nd Gaza Hospital Evacuation amid Ongoing Raid

Medics transfer wounded Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt through the Rafah crossing on Sunday. (AFP)
Medics transfer wounded Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt through the Rafah crossing on Sunday. (AFP)

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday it has completed a second evacuation mission from Gaza's Nasser Hospital, transferring a total of 32 critical patients including children from the site amid ongoing hostilities.

Efforts to transfer the remaining patients are ongoing, the global health agency said, Reuters reported.

"WHO fears for the safety and well-being of the patients and health workers remaining in the hospital and warns that further disruption to lifesaving care for the sick and injured would lead to more deaths," the WHO said on social media site X.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Asharq Al-Awsat Exclusive: Technical Error Foiled Hamas Plan to Attack Ashkelon Prison on Oct. 7

Israelis take cover in a bomb shelter while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, in Ashkelon, southern Israel (Reuters)
Israelis take cover in a bomb shelter while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, in Ashkelon, southern Israel (Reuters)
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Asharq Al-Awsat Exclusive: Technical Error Foiled Hamas Plan to Attack Ashkelon Prison on Oct. 7

Israelis take cover in a bomb shelter while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, in Ashkelon, southern Israel (Reuters)
Israelis take cover in a bomb shelter while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, in Ashkelon, southern Israel (Reuters)

Hamas was planning to storm Ashkelon Central Prison, close to the Gaza Strip, during the al-Aqsa Flood operation on Oct. 7 to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, in a mission that would have constituted another unprecedented blow to Israel.
In a special report, Asharq Al-Awsat revealed the details of the attack, which was supposed to target the prison but failed due to a technical error that led the attacking group to a nearby settlement instead of the prison.
Sources in the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip told Asharq Al-Awsat that one of the first groups affiliated with the elite unit of the al-Qassam Brigades had a mission to reach Ashkelon Prison, which contains hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in an attempt to liberate them, but the mission failed.
Sources close to the command of al-Qassam Brigades revealed that one of the groups consisted of 23 fighters and was explicitly assigned to reach Ashkelon Prison and free prisoners from it.
Another group's mission was to infiltrate a military base in the Ashkelon area before moving on to assist those already at the prison.
The sources reported that the group set off towards Ashkelon, crossed the border, and reached Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, where it clashed with Israeli security forces. They also arrived in the Netiv HaAsara settlement.
Initial investigations showed the mistake resulted from the designated guide in charge of GPS and maps, who made a directional error leading the group southwards.
Precise intrusion plan
According to the sources, the plan to storm the prison was carefully drawn up and in sufficient detail, and al-Qassam wanted it to constitute a solid blow to Israel, among other strikes on Oct. 7.
They explained that the plan relied on attacking the main gate of the prison using explosives and anti-tank missiles to blow up the gate and security positions along the prison fence, alongside rocket fire from Gaza towards the prison, with a signal from the group that it was there.
Ashkelon Prison is about 13 kilometers from the nearest border point in the northern Gaza Strip, southeast of the city.
The plan also relied upon the cooperation of the prisoners to rise and riot, which would assist the group.
However, the Qassam command did not receive any signals from the group that it had reached the prison, and it later became clear that it had arrived in Sderot, so it was instructed to wait.
The group engaged in clashes that lasted for hours with the Israeli police and army forces, which led to the Israeli forces losing control of the town after two al-Qassam groups met there.
It appears that this was one of the reasons for the continued clashes in Sderot for about three days after the Palestinian attackers barricaded themselves inside the police station and settlers' homes.
The sources confirmed that the al-Qassam Brigade did not abandon the plan to storm the prison.
Four members who participated in the storming of kibbutz Zikim were instructed to continue to try and reach the prison but were repelled by Israeli security forces before being targeted by air strikes.
- Support unit
The al-Qassam leadership had sent "elite" support units to the groups that led the storming of the border with Israel to facilitate their tasks, especially after their success in capturing dozens of Israelis.
The troop's support succeeded in killing, wounding, and capturing more Israelis and transporting those who were captured into the Gaza Strip.
The entire attack was aimed at capturing Israeli soldiers to push Tel Aviv into an exchange deal after it ignored four detainees held by Hamas. The operation later expanded in an unplanned manner.
Al-Qassam Brigades did not conduct any extensive investigation into the failure of its members to reach Ashkelon Prison due to the ongoing war for more than 130 days.
- Why Ashkelon?
In Israel, Ashkelon Central Prison is known as "Shikma Prison," number 713 in the Southern District. It was established during the British Mandate as a headquarters for the British Army stationed in the city to receive official British delegations.
After the defeat of 1967, it was transformed into the Ashkelon Police Station. With the escalation of the Palestinian national resistance against the occupation and a significant increase in the number of prisoners, the Israeli army leadership issued a military decree opening the Ashkelon prison.
With the increase of Palestinian resistance and operations against Israel, increasing the number of detainees among them, there was an immediate need to open a prison, and it was decided that this building would become a maximum security prison.

Ashkelon Central Prison began receiving Palestinian prisoners at the beginning of 1969. It holds about a thousand detainees. Each prisoner is allotted one and a half meters of space, and the rooms are often crowded. They are forced into compulsory labor, leading to riots and collective strikes.
The prison is famous for its damp cells that do not receive sunlight and the harsh, unbearable heat.


Israel Orders New Evacuations in Northern Gaza where 1 in 6 Children are Malnourished

Palestinians run away after an Israeli strike on a residential building in Rafah, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
Palestinians run away after an Israeli strike on a residential building in Rafah, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
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Israel Orders New Evacuations in Northern Gaza where 1 in 6 Children are Malnourished

Palestinians run away after an Israeli strike on a residential building in Rafah, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
Palestinians run away after an Israeli strike on a residential building in Rafah, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

Israel ordered new evacuations from parts of Gaza City on Tuesday, as a study led by the UN children's agency found that one in six children are acutely malnourished in the isolated and largely devastated north of the territory, where the city is located.

The report finds deepening misery across the territory, where Israel's air and ground offensive, launched in response to Hamas' Oct. 7 attack.

Israel has vowed to expand the offensive to the Gaza Strip's southernmost city of Rafah, where more than half of the territory's population of 2.3 million has sought refuge from fighting elsewhere. Many have crowded into sprawling tent camps and overflowing UN-run shelters near the Egyptian border.

On Tuesday, the military ordered the evacuation of the Zaytoun and Turkoman neighborhoods on the southern edge of Gaza City, an indication that Palestinian militants are still putting up stiff resistance in areas of northern Gaza that the Israeli military said had been largely cleared weeks ago.

Residents said there have been airstrikes and heavy ground fighting in eastern parts of Gaza City over the past two days. “The situation is very difficult," said Ayman Abu Awad, who lives in Zaytoun. "We are trapped inside our homes.”

The report by the Global Nutrition Cluster, an aid partnership led by the UN children's agency, UNICEF, says more than 90% of children under five in Gaza eat two or fewer food groups a day, known as severe food poverty. A similar percentage are affected by infectious diseases, with 70% experiencing diarrhea in the last two weeks.

More than 80% of homes lack clean and safe water, with the average household having one liter (quart) per person per day, according to the report released Monday.

In Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where most humanitarian aid enters, the acute malnutrition rate is 5%, compared to 15% in northern Gaza, which has been isolated by the Israeli military and largely cut off from aid for months. Before the war the rate across Gaza was less than 1%, the report said.

“The Gaza Strip is poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths, which would compound the already unbearable level of child deaths in Gaza,” UNICEF official Ted Chaiban said in a statement.

A UN report in December found that Gaza’s entire population of 2.3 million Palestinians is in a food crisis, with a quarter of the population facing starvation.

Israel says it does not restrict the import of humanitarian supplies, but aid groups say delivery within Gaza has been severely hampered by Israeli road closures, ongoing fighting and the breakdown of law and order as Israeli strikes have targeted the Hamas-run police force.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the main provider of aid in Gaza, said earlier this month that Israel was holding up a food shipment that could feed over a million people. Israel accused 12 employees of the agency of taking part in the Oct. 7 attack, without providing evidence. That led several donors to freeze vital funding for the agency, even after it fired the workers and launched an independent investigation.


Houthi Attack Leaves British Ship at Risk of Sinking

The Houthi leader threatened to attack ships, saying Western strikes against the group have no effect (Reuters)
The Houthi leader threatened to attack ships, saying Western strikes against the group have no effect (Reuters)
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Houthi Attack Leaves British Ship at Risk of Sinking

The Houthi leader threatened to attack ships, saying Western strikes against the group have no effect (Reuters)
The Houthi leader threatened to attack ships, saying Western strikes against the group have no effect (Reuters)

Houthi naval attacks reached unprecedented levels after sinking a British cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden and attacking a US ship.

Western and Yemeni sources confirmed the sinking of the British-registered cargo ship Rubymar after it was targeted by two Houthi missiles in the Gulf of Aden and the survival of its 20-member crew.

Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack and for the downing of a US drone in Hodeidah.

The Iranian-backed Houthi group began its attacks on November 19 by pirating the ship "Galaxy Leader" and detaining its crew before continuing its attacks, which amounted to about 49 attacks, damaging at least nine boats and sinking one.

As the Houthi threat to navigation increased, the US military marked the first observed Houthi use of an unmanned underwater vessel.

The Iran-backed group claims that it aims to prevent the navigation of ships heading to and from Israel, regardless of their nationality, along with US and British ships, in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

Xinhua News Agency quoted a Yemeni coastguard source as saying that the Houthi group launched a missile attack at a UK-owned ship off the coast of Aden.

The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, explained that a ship sank and its crew survived, adding that military boats in the area tried to help save the vessel, but it was severely damaged.

- Escalating threat

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea claimed responsibility for the attack against the British ship, saying it suffered catastrophic damage and came to a complete halt.

Sarea warned that the ship is now at risk of potential sinking in the Gulf of Aden, asserting that the ship's crew exited safely.

Sarea also said Houthi air defenses in the Red Sea province shot down a US MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

An official at GMZ Ship Management in Lebanon said in an email to Bloomberg that the strikes against Rubymar targeted the ship's engine room and bow.

The official added that there were no reports of injuries among the crew members who were being transported to Djibouti.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Yemen warned on its X account that the "reckless Houthi attacks on ships and oil tankers could cause an ecological disaster in Yemen, even after the world came together to rescue the FSO Safer. Houthis should stop putting Yemeni livelihoods at risk!"

Ambrey said in a statement that a Greek-flagged bulk carrier reported a "missile attack" in the Gulf of Aden before another projectile hit the water just meters from the ship.

The firm said that a Houthi missile struck a US-owned cargo ship in the Red Sea, around 93 nautical miles east of Aden.

It noted that "the crew was not injured."

Later, Ambrey announced that the same ship reported a second incident about 81 nautical miles southeast of Aden.

Western media reported the firm indicating that a projectile fell into the water at a distance of 10 to 15 meters from the ship's right side.

Houthis did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack on the US ship, but the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said it received a report of an explosion near a boat 100 nautical miles east of Aden.

"The vessel and crew are reported to be safe," announced UKMTO.

- European operation

Meanwhile, the European Union launched on Monday a naval mission to the Red Sea "to restore and safeguard freedom of navigation" there, without participating in the strikes led by the US and supported by Britain, against Houthi targets.

The EU said the mission would be active along the main sea lines of communication in the Baab al-Mandab Strait and the Strait of Hormuz, as well as international waters in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the Gulf.

EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the operation will protect the commercial and security interests of the EU and the international community.

The statement quoted Borrell as saying that the launch of the security operation, dubbed Apsides, represents a rapid response by the Union to restore maritime security and freedom of navigation in a waterway of high strategic importance.

He added that the new operation "will play a key role in safeguarding commercial and security interests, for the sake of the EU and the wider international community," according to the statement.

The Operation Commander will be Commodore Vasilios Griparis, and the Force Commander will be Rear Admiral Stefano Costantino. The Operation headquarters will be based in Larissa, Greece.

- US strikes

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) claimed responsibility for strikes against Houthi positions, saying it successfully carried out five self-defense strikes against three mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, one unmanned underwater vessel (UUV), and one unmanned surface vessel (USV) in Iranian-backed Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

CENTCOM identified the anti-ship cruise missiles, unmanned underwater vessels, and unmanned surface vessels in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined they presented an imminent threat to US Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region.

Furthermore, the Yemeni government asserted that Western strikes would not affect the Houthis' abilities to attack ships in the Red Sea and that the alternative solution is to support its forces to restore state institutions, liberate Hodeidah, and end the coup.

Officials expressed growing fears that peace efforts would collapse due to the escalation, indicating potential humanitarian repercussions resulting from the high cost of shipping and insurance, which would affect aid delivery to Yemenis.

Last Thursday, the US Navy announced the seizure and confiscation of an Iranian weapons shipment in the Arabian Sea, which was on its way to the Houthis.

The shipment contained over 200 packages carrying missile components, explosives, and other devices, the statement said.

Washington responded to the Houthis' escalation by forming an enhanced naval protection force operating in the southern Red Sea in an attempt to ward off mounting Houthi attacks.

Operation Prosperity Guardian would tackle the "recent escalation in reckless Houthi attacks originating from Yemen."


New US-British Airstrikes Target Houthis in Yemen

An RAF Typhoon aircraft takes off to join the US-led coalition from RAF Akrotiri to conduct air strikes against military targets in Yemen, aimed at the Iran-backed Houthi militia that has been targeting international shipping in the Red Sea, in Cyprus, in this handout picture released on January 12, 2024. UK MOD/Handout via REUTERS
An RAF Typhoon aircraft takes off to join the US-led coalition from RAF Akrotiri to conduct air strikes against military targets in Yemen, aimed at the Iran-backed Houthi militia that has been targeting international shipping in the Red Sea, in Cyprus, in this handout picture released on January 12, 2024. UK MOD/Handout via REUTERS
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New US-British Airstrikes Target Houthis in Yemen

An RAF Typhoon aircraft takes off to join the US-led coalition from RAF Akrotiri to conduct air strikes against military targets in Yemen, aimed at the Iran-backed Houthi militia that has been targeting international shipping in the Red Sea, in Cyprus, in this handout picture released on January 12, 2024. UK MOD/Handout via REUTERS
An RAF Typhoon aircraft takes off to join the US-led coalition from RAF Akrotiri to conduct air strikes against military targets in Yemen, aimed at the Iran-backed Houthi militia that has been targeting international shipping in the Red Sea, in Cyprus, in this handout picture released on January 12, 2024. UK MOD/Handout via REUTERS

Two US officials said the US Central Command forces carried out new strikes on Monday against the Houthi group in Yemen, the NBC news network reported.

The officials said the strikes occurred between 12 noon and 8:00 p.m. Sanaa time, and had struck a mobile missile launcher and a drone system, according to the Arab World Press.

The two officials also noted that Houthis targeted two US ships in the Gulf of Aden on Monday. They said the militia group launched a ballistic missile on the Greek-flagged, US-owned bulk carrier Sea Champion without causing damage, adding that the Marshall Islands-flagged Navis Fortuna was hit by a Houthi drone.

Later, the Houthi-run al-Masirah satellite TV channel reported that the US-British maritime coalition launched an airstrike on the Yemeni Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Monday.

The first strike hit the area of al-Jabanah while the second landed in the the Sardoud farm in al-Kadan area in al-Duha district, the television said, without providing further details or casualties, according to the Arab World Press.

The US and the UK have conducted rounds of strikes against the Houthis in an attempt to stop the rebel group targeting shipping in the southern Red Sea.

Houthis have been carrying out attacks on Israeli ships or those bound for Israel, in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea in retaliation for Israel's war on the Gaza Strip.


US Pushes for UN to Support Temporary Gaza Ceasefire

Palestinians look for survivors in the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli airstrike in Bureij refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)
Palestinians look for survivors in the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli airstrike in Bureij refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)
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US Pushes for UN to Support Temporary Gaza Ceasefire

Palestinians look for survivors in the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli airstrike in Bureij refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)
Palestinians look for survivors in the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli airstrike in Bureij refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)

The United States has proposed a rival draft United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war “as soon as practicable,,according to the text seen by Reuters.
The move comes after the US signaled it would veto on Tuesday an Algerian-drafted resolution — demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire — over concerns it could jeopardize talks between the US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar that seek to broker a pause in the war and the release of hostages held by Hamas.
It would see the Security Council "underscore its support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released, and calls for lifting all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale."
The United States does "not plan to rush" to a vote and intends to allow time for negotiations, a senior US administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Monday.
To pass, a resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the US, France, Britain, Russia or China.
The US draft text "determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries."
It was not immediately clear when or if the draft resolution would be put to a vote in the 15-member council.
The US put forward the text after Algeria on Saturday requested the council vote on Tuesday on its draft resolution, which would demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.