This is the dramatic moment Yemeni Houthi rebels stormed a mock Jewish residential area as part of a training exercise after the militant group’s leaders promised a ‘strong and effective response’ to allied bombing efforts this week.
Aerial footage shared by the rebels showed Houthi troops conducting drills around a training area consisting of several houses marked with the Star of David.
Men wielding Kalashnikov-style assault rifles are seen advancing on the makeshift compound, storming tents and shooting at a portrait of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
They then appear to practice taking hostages, seen using assault rifles to usher cowering actors dressed as Orthodox Jews out of the tents.
The troops are seen from above to drive away from the compound before blowing the site up entirely in an apparently controlled demolition.
Images of the drills were first shared on Saturday after the Houthi leadership promised revenge for strikes conducted by allies in response to rebel attacks on trade vessels in recent weeks.
A joint exercise between Britain, the US and allies in the early hours of Friday morning was followed by subsequent attacks late Friday and on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the threats, Foreign Secretary David Cameron yesterday warned the rebels that Britain was prepared to carry out future strikes on Houthi targets if their missiles continued to threaten the free flow of trade in the Red Sea.
Footage showed troops storming a makeshift compound containing Israeli flags
Houthi soldiers take part in military drills in mock residential areas on January 11, 2024
The training areas are seen from above emblazoned with the Star of David
A soldier is seen shooting at a portrait of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Soldiers breached a mock building and took hostages dressed as Orthodox Jews
The actors were paraded out of the camp before being driven away from the site
Aerial footage released January 13 and dated January 11 – before the coalition airstrikes – also showed drone operators practicing while stood on American flags.
And the exercises saw missiles and tanks tested near the northern Yemen-Saudi Arabia border at Al-Baqaa area.
Protests broke out in Yemen over the weekend as supporters of the Houthi rebels, who have been embroiled in a brutal civil war with the internationally-recognised government since 2014, condemned the United States and Israel.
US and British warplanes, ships and submarines launched dozens of air strikes across Yemen in the early hours of Friday morning in retaliation for repeated Houthi attacks in and around the Red Sea in recent weeks.
The Houthis called the attacks ‘barbaric’ and said in a statement ‘all US, UK interest have become ‘legitimate targets” without elaborating.
‘The Americans and the British should not believe that they will escape the punishment of our heroic armed forces,’ the Houthi Supreme Political Council said in a statement on their official media.
The Houthis, who say they are acting in solidarity with Gaza, have carried out a number of missile and drone attacks on what they deem Israeli-linked shipping in the region.
The attacks were widely condemned as commercial shipping lines sought alternate routes or suspended operations altogether, raising fears the price of essential commodities could rise significantly.
The US followed its attack on Friday morning with another strike later that day and a third on Saturday afternoon.
The Houthi movement’s TV channel Al-Masirah erroneously reported in the early hours of Saturday morning that Britain had been involved in the second round of strikes.
Houthi media then accused Britain and the US of carrying out more strikes on rebel-held Hodeida on Sunday, which western allies also denied.
Still, the airstrikes have galvanised Houthi supporters in Yemen. Houthi fighters and supporters were seen holding rifles and burning British and US flags at a rally near Sanaa.
In London, some protestors on a march to show solidarity with civilians killed in Gaza were filmed shouting ‘Yemen, Yemen make us proud. Turn another ship around’ in reference to the missile strikes against merchant ships.
The Houthis Media Centre also shared images of militants operating drones on US flags
THURSDAY: An unverified image appeared to show the result and British and US airstrikes in Yemen
Yemen was hit by a number of coalition strikes Friday early morning following attacks on ships
The Houthi outfit emerged in the 1990s but gained international attention in 2014 during a rebellion against Yemen’s government, sparking the ongoing civil war.
Yemen’s government subsequently stepped down, leading to a humanitarian crisis. Houthi forces continue to clash with a Saudi-led coalition and allies in the United States and a number of European powers.
The Houthis continue to receive millions in aid from Iran each year, which also provides aid and training to Hamas in Gaza and as much as $700mn a year to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Houthis have been accused of several violations of international law – beyond targeting non-combatant merchant vessels in the Red Sea – including using child soldiers, expected to make up a third of all fighters in Yemen.
Human Rights Watch published a report in 2018 detailing how Houthi soldiers would take hostages, arbitrarily detain people and use torture methods to extort money from relatives.
The UN also reported in 2018 the Houthis were diverting food aid from distribution areas intended for civilians affected by the humanitarian crisis.
And in 2019, there were allegations the Houthis supported the restoration of slavery in Yemen with the families of leaders holding some 1,800 citizens as slaves and servants in their personal residences.