ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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French naval ship in Red Sea intercepts 2 drones launched from Houthi-held Yemen port

France’s military says the UAVs were headed ‘straight toward’ the frigate Languedoc; incident comes after Iran-backed rebels threatened to attack all vessels heading to Israel

The French Languedoc (D653), a FREMM multipurpose frigate, performs maneuvers during the "Noble Dina 23" multilateral aeronautical exercise in the Mediterranean Dea on March 27, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
The French Languedoc (D653), a FREMM multipurpose frigate, performs maneuvers during the "Noble Dina 23" multilateral aeronautical exercise in the Mediterranean Dea on March 27, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)

PARIS — A French frigate shot down two drones in the Red Sea that were heading toward it from the coast of Yemen, the French military said on Sunday.

“The interception and destruction of these two identified threats” were carried out late Saturday by the frigate Languedoc, which operates in the Red Sea, the general staff said in a press release.

The interceptions happened at 20:30 GMT and 22:30 GMT, it added, and were 110 kilometers (68 miles) from the Yemeni coast.

The French navy said the drones were coming “straight toward” the Languedoc from Hodeida, a Yemeni port city held by the Houthi rebels.

The statement did not say whether the French navy assesses its frigate was the target of the drones.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Saturday threatened to attack any vessels heading to Israeli ports, regardless of whether the ship’s ownership is linked to the Jewish state, unless more food and medicine were allowed into the Gaza Strip.

A picture taken during an organized tour by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on November 22, 2023 shows the Galaxy Leader cargo ship, seized two days earlier, docked in a port on the Red Sea. (AFP)

The Houthis have fired several ballistic missiles and drones at Eilat since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war in October, all of which were intercepted or missed their targets. The latest attack came Wednesday when Israel shot down a ballistic missile over the Red Sea.

In November, the Houthis seized a vehicle transport ship linked to Israel in the Red Sea off Yemen. The rebels still hold the vessel near Hodeida.

In a statement posted on social media, the Houthis said they “will prevent the passage of ships heading to the Zionist entity” if humanitarian aid is not allowed into Hamas-ruled Gaza.

This photo released by the Houthi Media Center shows Houthi forces boarding the cargo ship Galaxy Leader on Sunday, November 19, 2023. (Houthi Media Center via AP)

The Houthis have recently attacked ships they claim have direct links to Israel, but their latest threat expands the scope of their targets.

An American destroyer shot down three drones last week while providing assistance to commercial ships in the Red Sea targeted by attacks from Yemen, according to Washington, which denounced “a direct threat” to maritime security.

The Biden administration has urged Israel not to respond to recent attacks by the Houthis, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

But Israeli National Security Council chairman Tzachi Hanegbi said in a Channel 12 interview on Saturday night that if the international community does not deal with the threat posed by the Houthis in Yemen, “Israel will act.” He did not elaborate on what measures would be taken.

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