Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, leader of Yemen’s Houthis, has offered to release a Saudi pilot and four officers in exchange for the release of members of the Palestinian Hamas Movement detained in Saudi Arabia.
The Yemeni leader announced the initiative during a speech on March 26 commemorating the country’s 5th “National Day of Resilience.”
“The Saudi regime is trying the Palestinian detainees on charges of supporting a terrorist party, meaning the Mujahedeen,” Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said.
Last year, Saudi authorities arrested dozens of Palestinians on terrorism charges. Many of the detainees were known members of Hamas, like the group’s representative in the kingdom Mohamad Saleh al-Khudari.
The Saudi pilot the Houthis offered to release in exchange for the detainees, is likely one of two who went missing last month after the shot down of a Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) Tornado IDS warplane over Yemen.
The Houthi’s initiative was welcomed by Mahmoud al-Zahar, a prominent leader of the Hamas Movement. In a phone call with al-Mayadeen, al-Zahar said the initiative is “respectable” and considered the Houthis’ offer to be suitable for Saudi Arabia.
“The initiative of the leader of the Ansar Allah movement, Abd al-Malik al-Houthi, rejoiced the hearts of all the Mujahedeen and the Palestinian resistance,” al-Zahar said.
A day earlier, Basim Naim, cochairman of Hamas’ Bureau of International Relations, revealed that talks were underway with Saudi Arabia to release the Saudi detainees very soon with the help of “mediators.”
The Houthis and Hamas are both close allies of Iran, which explains the motive behind Abdul-Malik’s offer. Some of the Palestinians detainees in Saudi Arabia may have been involved in pro-Houthi activities.