Yemen’s Houthi rebels are threatening to target Israeli vessels because of the war in Gaza.

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said the Iran-backed militia was monitoring the Red Sea for Israeli-owned tonnage, with or without Israeli flags.

“Our eyes are open to constant monitoring and searching for any Israeli ship,” he said in a speech broadcast by the rebels’ Al-Masirah TV station, according to the New Arab website.

“The enemy relies on camouflage in its movement in the Red Sea, especially in Bab-al-Mandeb, and did not dare to raise Israeli flags on its ships… and turned off identification devices,” he added.

Al-Houthi said his forces would “search and verify the ships that belong to him [Israel], and we will not hesitate to target them, and let everyone know that he is afraid”.

The Houthis have declared themselves part of the “axis of resistance” of Iran-affiliated groups and have launched drones and missiles at Israel since the Hamas attack in October that sparked the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Security company Ambrey said it was aware of Israeli-affiliated merchant vessels withholding signals in the area.

“Ambrey advises affiliated merchant shipping to implement ballistic protection measures. As well as physical security measures, these can include minimal crew deck movements and minimum bridge manning,” the company added.

Other Houthi leaders have made public remarks about adopting “all practical measures” to damage Israeli vessels in the Red Sea, Bab-Al-Mandeb and areas in the vicinity, which include the Gulf of Aden.

Iran has previously targeted Israeli-affiliated ships while underway in the region.

“It has also mistakenly targeted merchant shipping whose ownership had changed. Ambrey assesses a heightened risk of aggression in the wider region towards merchant shipping affiliated or recently affiliated with Israeli interests,” the company said.