HODEIDA, YEMEN — As international pressure mounts on Saudi Arabia over the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi-led coalition has carried on with its brutal military campaign against Yemen’s port city of Hodeida. On Wednesday, 20 civilians, including five children, were killed when coalition aircraft targeted a group of farmers, visitors, and passers-by in a busy vegetable market at the Lawiah crossroad in the Bayt al-Faqih district of Hodeida.
Lying in torn, blood-stained clothing on a bed in al-Joumari Hospital’s emergency room, a 30-year-old rescuer, who refused to provide his name for fear of retribution, recounted the terrifying moments when the strike took place:
The first airstrikes hit the vegetable market, and then when we were rushing in to save a father and his son and a motorcycle driver, the planes circled back and launched a second attack, killing most of us.
As has become the norm in the coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen, rescue efforts were complicated by the risk of follow-up strikes. Witnesses told MintPress that Saudi warplanes continued to circle the area after the initial strikes. Saudi Arabia has been known to use double-tap strikes in Yemen, carrying out an initial airstrike and then circling back to target rescuers.
Yemen’s Ministry of Public Health and Population provided MintPress with the names of victims, including the wounded, saying “some of them are in serious condition with cases of amputation. The number of dead will likely rise.”
The Tihama Organization for Human Rights and Heritage, a non-governmental organization created by the local population in Hodeida, told MintPress that the attack took place as vendors were washing vegetables and transporting them to their vehicles. Tihama put the number killed in the attack at 19, including five children, and said most of the victims were local Hodeida residents.
The latest attack comes just three days after the coalition targeted a car as it was traveling on a road in the Abs district of Hajjah province on Sunday afternoon, leaving four people dead and one injured.
Two civilians were also killed and six others injured, including children, when United Arab Emirates (UAE) aircraft targeted the Zayed Road in the al-Hali district of Hodeida province on the same day.
Twenty-three-year-old Mohammed, who lost his brother in the attack on the vegetable market, complained that coalition attacks on Yemen are being ignored by the international community:
The world is busy with Khashoggi while we are being killed in much worse ways. Maybe if my brother worked at the New York Times or was a Saudi, the reaction over his death would have been different.”
Although the coalition, led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, has killed numerous civilians in Yemen since October 2, when the saga of Khashoggi began, much of the corporate media, and even the U.S. government, have shown little concern over continued Saudi attacks on Yemeni civilians.
In fact, the same day that news of Khashoggi’s disappearance broke, a Saudi warplane targeted a family displaced by the war — killing a man, his wife, and their nine-year-old daughter along with 10 other civilians. And as news of the brutal dismemberment of Saudi Khashoggi’s captivated international media, the bodies of an entire family of beekeepers in Yemen lay dismembered following a Saudi coalition airstrike on their small family farm.
The Saudi-led coalition has killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians since 2015 when the war began. Moreover, the coalition’s blockade of food and medicine has plagued the country with an unprecedented famine and triggered a deadly outbreak of preventable disease that has cost thousands their lives.
Overall, the ongoing Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen has resulted in the death of 15,185 civilians, including 3,527 children and 2,277 women, according to the Legal Center for Rights and Development in Yemen, a non-governmental organization monitoring human rights violations immediately after their occurrence.
Moreover, 23,822 civilians, among them 3,526 children and 2,587 women, have sustained injuries and are suffering from a shortage of medical supplies and treatment resulting from the crippling Saudi land, air, and sea blockade. The center further noted that the Saudi-led coalition has caused the deaths of nearly 2,200 Yemenis from cholera.
U.S.’ Mark 82 bomb (MK-82) used again
Shortly after the marketplace attack, MintPress was able to photograph fragments of the bomb likely used in the attack. The weapon, a Mark 82 (MK-82) bomb, is jointly manufactured by U.S. weapons companies Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.
This is not the first time that pieces of an MK-82 were recovered at the location of a Saudi airstrike on a civilian target in Yemen. The U.S. manufactured bomb was also used by Saudi Arabia in a deadly airstrike on a school bus on August 9. Parts of the bomb were recovered at the scene two days later.
Saudi Arabia also used MK-82 bombs — which were sold to the Kingdom by the United States in a series of deaks inked in 2016 and 2017 — to target a funeral in 2016, leaving over 140 dead and 525 wounded.
The coalition’s latest attacks come amid a worsening famine in Yemen, a famine that has hit Hodeida especially hard and has left thousands of families across Yemen without food, forcing some to eat the leaves off of trees and even their family pets in an attempt to stave off starvation.
The United Nations humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, confirmed on Tuesday that the war on Yemen has left as many as 8.4 million people in Yemen in need of urgent food aid, adding that 3 million Yemenis were malnourished, including 1.1 million pregnant women, “and more than 400,000 severely acutely malnourished children.”
Lowcock said the UN now thinks last month’s estimate that 11 million people could soon face “pre-famine conditions” and need aid to survive was wrong, and the number is actually 14 million — half of Yemen’s population.
Backed by the U.S., the Saudi-led coalition began its assault on Hodeida on June 13, despite warnings that it would worsen the impoverished country’s humanitarian crisis.
Top Photo | Bodies of the victims of a Saudi attack on a vegetable market in Hodeida, Yemen lay covered in white sheets, October 25, 2018. Ibrahim Tanomah | Mintpress News