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Yemen’s Houthis said they hit a Norwegian commercial tanker carrying biodiesel feedstock from Malaysia to Italy with a missile in their latest protest against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, Reuters reported.

The Iran-aligned group had attacked the STRINDA tanker as it was delivering crude oil to an Israeli terminal and after its crew had ignored all warnings, Houthi military spokesperson Yehia Sarea was quoted as saying in a statement.

According to the tanker’s owner, Norway’s Mowinckel Chemical Tankers, the vessel was headed to Italy with a cargo of biofuel feedstock, not crude oil.

However, the company acknowledged a possible Israeli port call was scheduled for January, details it had not offered in the immediate hours after the 12 December attack in the Red Sea, Reuters reported on the day of the attack.

“Upon the recommendation of our security advisors, it was decided to withhold this information until the vessel and her crew were in safe waters,” the company said in a statement.

According to data from shiptracking firm Kpler, the STRINDA had loaded vegetable oil and biofuels in Malaysia and was heading for Venice. Italian energy firm Eni had confirmed the ship was carrying 15,000 tonnes of residues and waste from vegetable oil processing destined for Eni’s biorefineries in Italy, the report said.

Following the attack, Israel’s military said it had deployed one of its most advanced warships, a S’ar 6 class corvette, in the Red Sea.

The US Navy destroyer Mason had responded to the STRINDA’s distress calls and assisted the crew, who were dealing with a fire, the US military was quoted as saying. The US military said the STRINDA was struck by a land-based cruise missile fired from Houthi-controlled Yemen.

With tensions rising in the Middle East as part of the Israel-Hamas conflict, the Houthis had been attacking vessels in vital shipping lanes and firing drones and missiles at Israel more than 1,609km (1,000 miles) from their seat of power in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, Reuters wrote.

On 9 December, the Houthis had said they would target all ships heading to Israel, regardless of their nationality, and had warned international shipping companies against dealing with Israeli ports.

At the time of the report, Houthi officials had not immediately responded to a request for comment and there had been no immediate comment from the Israeli government.

The Houthi spokesman was quoted as saying the group would continue blocking ships heading to Israeli ports until Israel allowed the entry of food and medical aid into the Gaza Strip.

Israel has denied restricting the entry of food, water, medicines and shelter into the Gaza Strip, the report said.

The Houthi spokesman said the group had managed to obstruct the passage of several ships in recent days, acting in support of the Palestinians.

The Houthis are one of several groups in the Iran-aligned “Axis of Resistance” that have been taking aim at Israeli and US targets since their Palestinian ally Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October.

Israel had responded by besieging Gaza with the stated aim of destroying Hamas, Reuters wrote.