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Houthis claim attack on ship that docked in Israel

The Houthis in Yemen say they launched attacks on a commercial vessel after it used an Israeli port, and on a US aircraft carrier ordered home after months of responding to sea attacks launched because of the war on Gaza.

Yahya Saree, the military spokesman of the Iran-aligned group, said in a televised announcement on Saturday the Liberia-flagged bulk carrier Transworld Navigator was directly hit by ballistic missiles in the Arabian Sea.

“The ship was targeted because the company that owns it violated the ban of entry into the ports of occupied Palestine,” he said, alluding to an earlier threat that all ships docking at Israeli ports would be considered targets.

The attack came after the sinking this week of the ship MV Tutor, which appears to mark a new escalation in the campaign against commercial vessels in vital maritime corridors.

Saree also claimed an attack using ballistic and cruise missiles on the USS Eisenhower, which has led US Navy operations in the region since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza.

Saree said “the operation has achieved its objectives successfully” without elaborating. One unnamed US official told Reuters news agency the claim “is incorrect”.

The Houthis and social media accounts supporting them have repeatedly falsely claimed to hit or even sink the aircraft carrier in the Red Sea.

The announcement came shortly after US officials reportedly ordered the USS Eisenhower to return home after more than eight months of deployment, with another aircraft carrier operating in the Pacific set to replace it.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported on Friday that a vessel was attacked 126 nautical miles (233km) east of Aden in Yemen. It said the master reported “explosions in the vicinity of the vessel” and the crew is safe.

The Houthis pledged to continue their military operations, which they have said are in support of Palestinians and will only stop when the siege of Gaza is lifted.

The group has launched more than 60 attacks, sunk two commercial ships, seized another, and attacked dozens more since the start of the war.

In March, the Houthis killed three people after one of its antiship ballistic missiles set the Barbados-flagged True Confidence on fire.

The US and United Kingdom militaries have launched air raids across Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen to weaken the group’s military capabilities.

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