Yemen: Huthi missile attack on Saudi Arabian cities is a possible war crime

Responding to reports that the Huthi armed group in Yemen fired seven ballistic missiles at airports in Riyadh and other Saudi Arabian cities overnight on Sunday, killing one civilian, Samah Hadid, Middle East Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International, said:

“Launching indiscriminate attacks is prohibited by international humanitarian law and can constitute a war crime. A high death toll may have been averted, possibly due to the missiles being intercepted, but that doesn’t let the Huthi armed group off the hook for this reckless and unlawful act. These missiles cannot be precisely targeted at such distances, so their use in this manner unlawfully endangers civilians.

Launching indiscriminate attacks is prohibited by international humanitarian law and can constitute a war crime.
Samah Hadid, Middle East Deputy Director for Campaigns


“These unlawful attacks must not be used as an excuse by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to indiscriminately attack civilians or further exacerbate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis by imposing yet more restrictions on importing aid and essential goods such as food, medicine and fuel.

“We have documented extensively how all sides have violated international law in the Yemen conflict over the past three years. Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes have recklessly destroyed and damaged Yemeni homes, hospitals, schools and markets. As a result, thousands of civilians have lost their lives and millions are displaced and in dire need of humanitarian aid. But violations by one side do not give the other side license to flout international humanitarian law.”

Attack 'intercepted'

According to initial media reports, including from the Saudi Arabian state press agency, all seven missiles were intercepted and destroyed, but an Egyptian national was killed after sustaining shrapnel wounds in the aftermath.

The Huthi missiles were launched on the third anniversary of the beginning of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s campaign of airstrikes in Yemen.