Merchant ship hijacked by Houthis earlier (Getty Images)

A U.S. official told Al Jazeera that a Norwegian-flagged ship was attacked by a missile fired by the Houthi group from Yemen, adding that the attack took place near Bab al-Mandab and resulted in damage to the ship.

The official said in his statements to Al Jazeera that the US destroyer "Mason" responded to a distress call from the targeted ship, and confirmed that there was no US warship present during the missile attack by the Houthis.

In a related context, the British Maritime Trade Operations Department said it had received a report of a fire on board one of the ships near the Bab al-Mandab Strait near the Yemeni coast, and advised ships to be cautious.

British maritime trade operations said via platform X that the ship was 15 nautical miles from the port of Mokha in Yemen, and that authorities had launched an investigation into the incident.

It also reported that an entity identifying itself as a Yemeni maritime authority had ordered a ship to divert to a Yemeni port.

On Sunday, a French frigate shot down two drones in the Red Sea heading towards it from the coast of Yemen.

Washington has previously announced that a US destroyer shot down three drones while providing support last Sunday to commercial ships in the Red Sea targeted by attacks from Yemen, condemning a "direct threat" to maritime security.

Saree threatened last Saturday to prevent the passage of ships bound for Israel if food and medicine did not enter the Gaza Strip (Al-Jazeera)

Houthi threat

The military spokesman for the Ansar Allah movement (Houthis) Yahya Saree threatened last Saturday to prevent the passage of ships bound for Israel if food and medicine did not enter the Gaza Strip, and said that any ship heading to Israel is a legitimate target.

The decision was welcomed by Hamas, which said it considered "this decision courageous and bold to triumph over the blood of our people in the Gaza Strip and stand against the Zionist-American aggression that persists in the genocidal war."

Days after Hamas's Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on Israel on October 7 and the Israeli backlash, Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi warned that his fighters would retaliate if "red lines" were crossed and if the United States intervened in Gaza, through "rocket strikes, drones and military options," and said, "We are ready to intervene with everything we can."

The Houthis have recently targeted ships they say are linked to Israel, but their threat last Saturday extends their operations to all ships bound for Israel.

The Houthis launched their first attack on October 19, targeting Israel with cruise missiles, then hijacked a commercial ship in the Red Sea and detained 25 of its members, and attacked 3 commercial ships in the Red Sea, and the French and Americans intercepted some Houthi missiles aimed at Israel.

Source : Al Jazeera + Agencies