The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen “have crossed a red line in the Red Sea,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog said on Wednesday.
“The U.S.-led international activities against the Houthi terror-pirates must be bolstered and strengthened in the form of a truly international coalition,” the president continued his tweet.
“Under the direction of their totalitarian commanders in Tehran, the Houthis’ continued acts of terrorism and piracy against ships of all nationalities and ownerships require the entire international community to act, united, forcefully, and decisively to stamp out this vile threat to the global economy and trade.”
Herzog’s comment comes as the Houthis continued to target international commercial shipping lanes off the coast of Yemen.
Two missiles fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen missed a commercial tanker loaded carrying jet fuel near the Bab al-Mandab Strait on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported, citing two U.S. officials.
The American Navy’s USS Mason guided-missile destroyer shot down a suspected Houthi drone during the incident, the AP reported.
The Ardmore Encounter tanker carries the flag of the Marshall Islands and was traveling from Mangalore, India, to the Suez Canal via the Red Sea. Armed guards on the ship opened fire as they fended off skiffs with men attempting to board the vessel, the AP reported.
“No one boarded the vessel and all crew members are safe and accounted for. The vessel remains fully operational with no loss of cargo or damage on board,” Ardmore Shipping Corp., which owns and operates the ship, said.
“Ardmore is in close contact with the relevant authorities and military assistance is now in the area providing support as required,” the statement added.
The fuel load was headed to Rotterdam in the Netherlands or Gävle in Sweden, according to Ardmore Shipping. It is reportedly the first time since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7 that the Houthis have targeted an energy shipment heading to the Suez Canal.
Two ships were harassed by armed speed boats off the coast of Yemen on Wednesday, according to United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations.
The British organization, which fosters communication between the international maritime trade and naval security forces, did not identify the vessels.
On Saturday, the Houthis announced that they would target every Israel-bound ship in the Red Sea.
The Houthis have recently targeted ships with Israeli owners—the Galaxy Leader, which was brought to the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, and the Central Park, whose hijacking was thwarted by USS Mason. During the assault on the Central Park, a missile was fired at the Mason from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen.
From bases along the Yemeni coast, Houthi rebels are able to threaten shipping in the Red Sea as vessels traverse the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a maritime choke point between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. The majority of the world’s oil passes through the strait from the Indian Ocean towards the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea.
Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Saturday night that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Joe Biden that Jerusalem would take military action against the Houthis if the Americans did not act first.
Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, the Houthis have fired several ballistic and cruise missiles at the Jewish state.
Israel has bolstered its naval presence in the Red Sea area in response to the attacks.
Late last month, an Israeli-owned commercial vessel, the CMA CGM Symi, was attacked by an Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean.
The Malta-flagged Symi was targeted by a Shahed-136 drone while traveling in international waters. The “suicide drone” caused damage to the ship but no casualties among the crew.