While Israel's ground troops expand their fighting against the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Houthi rebels supported by Israel's arch-enemy Iran are fueling the Middle East conflict with renewed attacks on merchant ships.
A US Navy destroyer came to the aid of the ships in the Red Sea and shot down several drones. The US military said it was still unclear whether the US destroyer “USS Carney” itself was the target. The Houthis threatened further attacks on Israeli freighters. Israel, on the other hand, emphasized that it had nothing to do with the ships. Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts are underway to de-escalate the situation in the Middle East.
Diplomatic efforts to de-escalate
US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about the situation in Gaza on her return flight from the climate conference in Dubai, the White House announced.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, about "ongoing efforts to facilitate the safe return of all remaining hostages and to increase aid to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip."
Israel's army advances in southern Gaza
The army fought strongly and thoroughly in the north of the sealed-off coastal strip, and is now doing the same in the south, said Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled there on Israel's instructions are crowded into the narrow area. The spokesman for the UN children's fund Unicef, James Elder, sharply criticized the Israeli attacks during a visit to the south of the Gaza Strip. A “bloodbath” is taking place there.
More and more deaths
According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, more than 15,500 people have been killed and more than 41,000 others injured in the Gaza Strip. The information cannot currently be independently verified. However, the United Nations and other observers point out that the authority's figures have proven to be credible in the past.
Another attack by the Houthi rebels
In response to Israel's war against Hamas, the Houthi rebels are intensifying their attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea. Houthi military spokesman Jahja Sari threatened again on Sunday that all ships that fly the Israeli flag, that are owned by Israeli companies or that are operated by Israeli companies are a target. Israel's army spokesman Daniel Hagari emphasized that the attacked ships had no connection to the State of Israel. One of the ships was significantly damaged. It is in danger of sinking.
Since the start of the Gaza war, attacks by Iran-aligned groups on U.S. forces in the Middle East have increased, raising concerns of even greater escalation in the region. “These attacks pose a direct threat to international trade and maritime security,” the US military said. "We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, although carried out by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully supported by Iran." The USA would now discuss measures in coordination with international partners.
Harris: Palestinians need perspective
US Vice President Harris reiterated US support for Israel's right to self-defense in a conversation with Israel's President Herzog. At the same time, she also expressed concern about steps that could lead to an escalation of tensions, such as violence by extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
In a conversation with Abbas, she assured US support "for the Palestinian people and their right to security, dignity and self-determination." The Palestinian people need a “clear political perspective,” it said. The USA wants to work for a two-state solution in the conflict.
What is important today
Efforts to de-escalate the Gaza war continue. Meanwhile, renewed attacks by the Houthi rebels on merchant ships in the Red Sea are causing great concern.