February 23, 2024 | Flash Brief

Houthis Target Israel and International Shipping

February 23, 2024 | Flash Brief

Houthis Target Israel and International Shipping

Latest Developments

Iran-backed Houthi terrorists continued their attacks on Israel and international shipping on February 22. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that its Arrow air defense system shot down a ballistic missile over the Red Sea that the Houthis had fired toward Israel. The Times of Israel reported that the incident was the sixth interception of a ballistic missile by Israel since the start of the Jewish state’s war against Hamas in Gaza. The Houthis also launched two missiles at a Liberian-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden. One of the missiles hit the ship, starting a fire that caused minor damage, but the vessel was able to continue on its course.

Expert Analysis

“Iran’s terror proxy has systematically tried to kill civilian mariners and now has targeted a commercial vessel carrying grain to hungry people in Yemen. Iran’s provision of weapons to the Houthis has not only threatened commercial shipping but has also exacerbated one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.” Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“The continued Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and on Israel remind us that the primary U.S. effort needs to be cutting off the Houthi supply chain for ballistic and cruise missiles and drones. These weapons are flowing to Yemen from Iran, both by sea and over land via Oman, and if diplomacy can’t stop these flows, then kinetic action needs to be taken against each of these supply lines.” RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery, FDD Senior Fellow and Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Cyber and Technology

Houthi Attacks on Shipping

The Pentagon said on February 22 that the Houthis have increased their attacks in the past 48-72 hours. On February 18, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that a Houthi ballistic missile struck the UK-owned bulk carrier MV Rubymar in the Red Sea. The damage to the ship was substantial enough that another commercial ship evacuated the crew after they issued a distress call. The Rubymar remains in the water, taking on water and leaking fuel and fertilizer, causing an environmental hazard.

On February 19, the Houthis launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles at the U.S.-owned cargo ship MV Sea Champion. One of the missiles detonated near the ship, causing minor damage. The Sea Champion was headed to the Port of Aden in Yemen to deliver humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people. The same day, the Houthis shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drone. The Houthis previously shot down an MQ-9 drone on November 8.

Houthi Attacks on Israel

Until this week, the Houthis’ most recent attack against Israel was on February 2, when the IDF reported that it used the Arrow system to intercept a Houthi missile over the Red Sea. The Houthis have launched several missiles and drones toward Israel since October 19, all of which Israel, the United States, or U.S. partner nations shot down. The Houthis claim that their goal is to create a blockade of shipping to Israel and prevent the passage of what they claim are vessels linked to the Jewish state.

10 Things to Know About the Houthis,” FDD Insight

U.S. Conducts Cyberattack Against Iranian Spy Ship Helping Houthis,” FDD Flash Brief

A moment of decision for Americans,” FDD Foreign Podicy podcast with Bradley Bowman and RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery

American Forces Under Attack by Iran and its Proxies,” by Mike Daum and Bradley Bowman


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Missiles Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power