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Photo of Israeli tourists flocking to Yemeni island of Socotra using UAE-issued visas causes uproar

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this undated picture, an Israeli tourist is seen standing on a hilltop as groups of Israeli tourists are being transported by the United Arab Emirates to the strategic Yemeni island of Socotra to spend their vacations there. (Photo via Twitter)

Photos have been posted online of Israeli "tourists" transported by the United Arab Emirates to the strategic Yemeni island of Socotra for vacation, causing widespread outrage among Yemeni people.

Social media users have circulated pictures of the purported tourists hiking in the mountains of Socotra Island, some of whom were posing with the Israeli regime’s flag.

The media activists emphasized that the Israelis are under full security protection wherever they go, in a move deliberately intended to arouse the feelings of Yemeni people.

“Israeli tourists are acting outrageously to the extent that they fearlessly hoist the regime’s flag before anyone during their sightseeing tours in Socotra,” a social media user named Ben Ghalib wrote.

Last May, the Sana’a-based Yemeni National Salvation Government strongly condemned the United Arab Emirates for the transfer of Israelis to the strategic island of Socotra on Emirati visas.

It said in a statement at the time that the UAE's measure violates international law, given that Socotra is a Yemeni island occupied by the aggressor countries of the Saudi-led coalition.

“The transfer of tourists to the Socotra Island reveals the plans and programs of the occupying UAE, which are in line with the Zionist schemes to dominate Yemeni islands as well as the steps towards normalization with the regime,” the statement read.

Home to some 60,000 people, Socotra overlooks the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a main shipping route that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. It has a unique ecosystem.

The French-language news outlet JForum said in August 2020 that Israel, in cooperation with the UAE, was planning to build intelligence-gathering bases on the Socotra island.

The purpose of the bases, according to the report, is to electronically monitor Saudi-led forces waging a war on Yemen.

Israel and the UAE are currently making all logistical preparations to establish intelligence bases to collect information from across the Gulf of Aden, including Bab el-Mandeb and south of Yemen, which is under the control of forces backed by the UAE, the report said.

Socotra has been a source of tension between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which have been vying for control of the resource-rich island.

UAE-backed separatists of the so-called Southern Transitional Council (STC) took control of Socotra in June 2020, in a move described by the administration of fugitive former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, as “a full-fledged coup.”

UAE dispatches mercenaries, military equipment to Ma’rib region

In another development, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) dispatched allied militants as well as military equipment to Yemen’s strategic central province of Ma’rib as Yemeni army troops and fighters from Popular Committees are gaining grounds there.

Pro-Saudi media outlets claimed that groups of UAE-backed militants – better known by the nom de guerre the Giants – had entered Ma’rib province from neighboring Shabwah province.

The outlets further claimed that UAE-backed forces had taken Shabwah from Yemeni army troops and their allies.

This is while Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network reported on Sunday that the commander of the so-called Third Brigade, Majdi al-Radfani, had died of his injuries after Yemeni army troops and their allies targeted UAE-sponsored militants in the Bayhan district of Shabwah province.

The report added that more than 130 militants had been killed during battles with Yemeni Armed Forces over the past few days and dozens of others have been wounded. A number of their military vehicles have been destroyed as well.

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