CAIRO: The leader of Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis said on Tuesday that the group had been able to prevent Israeli-linked ships from passing through the Gulf of Aden over the last week.

“The Americans and the British failed to secure the passage of any ship heading to Israel. They were unable to protect these ships. They can no longer protect even American-British ships, and this is a real and major victory for us,” Abdul Malik al-Houthi said in a televised speech.

Houthi, who control Yemen’s most populous regions, have repeatedly fired on international commercial ships since mid-November.

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Their targets have been vessels with commercial ties to the United States, Britain or Israel, according to shipping and insurance sources.

“The Israeli, American and British agenda seeks to bring an end to the Palestinian issue,” al-Houthi said. Houthi operations in the Red Sea, he said, were “legitimate (ones) to help support the people of Gaza and lift the siege being imposed on them.”

The Houthis say they have targeted shipping in solidarity with Palestinians over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

The attacks have prompted several companies to halt Red Sea journeys and opt for a longer and more expensive route around the African continent, and U.S. and British warplanes have carried out retaliatory strikes across Yemen.

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