Yemen’s Houthi regime widened the list of ships it threatens to attack in the Red and Arabian Seas to include any merchant vessel heading towards Israel, regardless of its nationality.

The rebels, who control large swathes of Yemen, have so far been targeting only ships they believed to be controlled by Israeli interests.

“The Yemeni Armed Forces announce that they will prevent navigating all the ships heading to the Zionist entity [Israel] from any nationality,” Houthi spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Saturday.

Saree said the Houthis are pressuring Israel and the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza, a Palestinian territory under fierce Israeli attacks.

“If the food and medicine keep not accessing [sic] the Gaza Strip … they [the ships] will become a legitimate target for our armed forces,” Saree tweeted.

“Out of concern for the safety of maritime navigation, we warn all ships and companies to avoid dealing with Israeli ports.”

Only ships “affiliated with Israel” and “transporting commodities to Israeli ports” will be affected, he said.

Houthi forces will start implementing their new policy with immediate effect.

They have already hijacked one Israeli-linked ship and attacked others since last month.

Merchant vessels travelling through the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, have been on high alert ever since.