Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly told US President Joe Biden that Israel will take military action against Yemen’s Houthi rebels if the US does not, according to Israeli media.
The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, have been targeting Israeli and US interests in the region since the outbreak of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
According to N12News, an Israeli news outlet, Netanyahu’s national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi revealed the warning to journalists Amit Segal and Ben Caspit on Saturday.
Hanegbi said that Netanyahu informed Biden that “if you don’t act against the Houthis, we will act militarily”, referring to the rebel group that controls much of Yemen and its Red Sea coast.
The report comes after a series of attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea last week, which prompted a US warship to shoot down several Houthi drones.
The US Navy said that the USS Carney, which was in the southern Red Sea near the Bab al-Mandab strait, a vital oil shipping route, intercepted three Houthi drones on Dec. 3 in self-defense. The drones were launched from Houthi-held areas of Yemen, a US official told Fox News.
No injuries were reported among the crew members of the vessels.
The Houthis also seized a British-owned cargo ship last month that had ties with an Israeli company.
The US Treasury Department announced sanctions on 13 individuals and entities on Thursday for providing financial support to the Houthis in Yemen. The sanctions aim to cut off the funds that enable the Houthis to carry out attacks.
The Houthis have said that their actions are in solidarity with the Palestinians, who have been under a blockade by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007.
Israel has accused Iran of orchestrating the attacks on ships as an act of terrorism and a threat to international maritime security.
A Houthi military spokesperson said that all ships heading to Israeli ports are banned from the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.
The spokesperson warned that “if Gaza does not receive the food and medicine it needs, all ships in the Red Sea bound for Israeli ports, regardless of their nationality, will become a target for our armed forces”, according to a statement quoted by Reuters on Saturday.