The Houthis so far have been undeterred.
On Tuesday, the Houthis fired an anti-ship ballistic missile into the Red Sea, hitting the Zografia, a Maltese-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier, Central Command said. The ship’s crew reported no injuries. The vessel remained seaworthy, and continued its journey, the military said.
A Houthi spokesman, Yahya Sarea, said in a statement that the group had targeted the ship with “a number of missiles” because it was “sailing to the ports of occupied Palestine” and that the ship was directly hit.
The Houthis “will continue to take all procedures to defend and attack as part of its legitimate right to defend our dear Yemen, and we confirm our continued solidarity with the wronged Palestinian people,” he said.
The Houthis have repeatedly said that they are acting in support of the people of Gaza, though many of the group’s targets have had no clear connection to Israel.
Identifying Houthi targets is proving to be challenging for U.S. forces. American and other Western intelligence agencies have not spent significant time or resources in recent years collecting data on the location of Houthi weapons sites, the two U.S. officials said.
That all changed after the Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, and the Israeli military’s responding ground campaign in the Gaza Strip.
U.S. analysts have been rushing to catch up and catalog potential Houthi targets every day, the officials said. The Houthis are an agile guerrilla fighting force and have been for decades, skilled in moving and hiding weapons, equipment and supplies. Hitting pop-up targets on short notice, like Tuesday’s strike, a practice the military calls dynamic targeting, would probably be an important part of any additional strikes that Mr. Biden and his commanders might order.
Even if the Pentagon destroys additional Houthi firepower, Iran appears ready to supply more.