An oil tanker went up in flames in the Gulf of Aden after being hit by a missile fired by the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group Friday.
The Houthis say they are retaliating for recent strikes on their infrastructure in Yemen by the US and UK militaries. Those attacks have been aimed at stopping the Houthis from disrupting global shipping in the region.
It all stems from Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza: The Houthis say their actions are aimed at pressuring Israel to stop its ground offensive and widespread bombardment of the Palestinian enclave.
The US sent a destroyer — which had itself been the target of Houthi fire Friday, according to US Central Command — to respond to the commercial ship’s distress call.
It’s just the latest example of flaring tensions in the Middle East, where world leaders are trying to contain the ripple effects of the war in Gaza.
Here’s what else to know today:
Allegations against UN workers in Gaza: Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it expects the main United Nations relief agency in Gaza to conduct an urgent internal investigation after it fired staff members allegedly involved in the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack against Israel.
Israel has shared all the information it has about the 12 staffers at the center of the stunning allegations with both the US and UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), an Israeli official told CNN Friday.
The head of the UNRWA had previously vowed to probe the claims. The allegations have jeopardized the group’s ability to offer desperately needed humanitarian aid in the enclave.
Growing pressure to free hostages: There are no “imminent developments” on an agreement to secure the release of hostages held in Gaza, the US says, even as it orchestrates a flurry of diplomatic efforts to reach a deal.
The White House coordinator for the Middle East wrapped up meetings in the region Friday, while CIA Director Bill Burns is set to meet in the coming days with Israel and Egypt’s intelligence chiefs and the Qatari prime minister to discuss a deal.
Hamas, meanwhile, released a heavily edited video showing three female hostages, in an apparent attempt to ramp up pressure on Israeli leaders.
Deteriorating conditions for Gaza medical workers: Vital medical services “have collapsed” at Nasser Hospital, the largest functioning hospital in the Gaza Strip, according to Doctors Without Borders. Intense fighting around the hospital has made it perilous to resupply the medical center.
Fewer than half of Gaza’s hospitals are still partially functioning, the UN said Thursday. Those that remain open face shortages of staff, basic medical supplies, fuel, food and drinking water.
Today’s ruling by the UN’s top court: The UN secretary-general said he hopes Israel will comply with today’s order from the International Court of Justice, which called on the country to prevent a genocide in Gaza, but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the ruling as a rejection of what he called “discrimination” against his country, while the Palestinian Authority and South Africa said it represented a victory for human rights.