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Crisis Middle East.  Israel to attack Rafah if Hamas hostages not released before Ramadan • Houthis resume attacks on cargo ships

Crisis Middle East. Israel to attack Rafah if Hamas hostages not released before Ramadan • Houthis resume attacks on cargo ships

The European Union's mission to protect cargo ships in the Red Sea was officially launched in Brussels on Monday. The 27 foreign ministers will introduce him during a meeting in Brussels, a European official told French agency AFP. The assignment will initially last for one year, but may be extended.

The work was named Aspides, which means 'shield' in ancient Greek. An official release does not mean an immediate departure. It is up to the higher command to decide when sufficient resources are available for full operation. According to embassy sources, this could take “several weeks”.

Several countries have already indicated their interest in participating, including Belgium, Italy, Germany and France. Spain, on the other hand, did not participate. The German battleship Hessen departed for the Red Sea on February 8 with a crew of 240 men. It is on permanent alert and can respond to potential attacks with missiles, drones and tele-guided kamikaze boats.

Belga – Belgian battleship Louis-Marie.

Our country will send the battleship Louis-Marie. According to military sources, the ship will first make its way to the Mediterranean before taking part in Operation Agener in the Strait of Hormuz on March 27. Louis-Marie inevitably makes an outward and return journey across the Red Sea. France is ready to provide a warship already in the Red Sea.

Member states had already agreed in principle to the security mission in the Red Sea in January. It is purely a defensive mission. European sources said Greece would have overall command and Italy operational command. It would be allowed to fire to protect merchant ships or itself, but would not be allowed to engage targets on the ground against Houthi rebel positions in Yemen. Above all, the rationale is that it is important not to contribute to escalating conflict in the region.

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Since mid-November, the Houthis have increased attacks against ships linked to Israel. The rebels, backed by Tehran, say they are doing so “in solidarity” with the Palestinians in Gaza. So many ship owners decided to take detours, avoiding the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. About 12 percent of world trade goes there.

In December, Washington and London launched an operation in the Red Sea. They are launching attacks on Houthi positions.