The heat was stifling, the power out. So the transients, mostly women and children displaced from nearby towns, ventured outside their temporary housing on Monday for some air, witnesses said. Then the Saudi warplanes struck.
In what medics and residents in Yemen’s western port city of Al Hudaydah described as an instant midmorning slaughter in a residential housing area, the warplanes fired missiles at the civilians, literally cutting them to pieces as they sought relief from the 92-degree temperature [bold mine-DL]. At least 14 were killed and nine wounded.
The circumstances of this attack illustrate the many different ways that the coalition is punishing Yemen’s civilian population. The displaced people were there because they had been forced out of their homes by the fighting between coalition-backed forces and the Houthis. They would not have been in that place were it not for the Saudi-led intervention. The power was out because the coalition has devastated the country’s infrastructure and damaged its power plants, and the coalition blockade has starved the country of both food and fuel. The fuel shortage means that Yemeni civilians often can’t run their generators or can only run them for very short periods of time, and so they are left to endure extreme temperatures without any relief. These people, who have already been turned into refugees in their own country, seek a brief respite from the heat by going outdoors, and then they are immediately murdered by a missile attack. Through its punishing, cruel blockade and indiscriminate bombing campaign, the coalition created the conditions that made these people go out into the open and then the coalition killed them for it.
The intensity of the attack was such that first responders could not reach the site before everyone was dead:
“The ambulances could not cross into the targeted areas due to intensity of the jets,” Abdulrahman Jarallah, director of the city health bureau in Al Hudaydah, said by telephone. He said there had been no military presence nearby.
Medics in Al Hudaydah said that when they finally reached the missile-strike site, only two bodies could be identified. Most of the dead were in pieces.
“We believe that the targeted people were in the open to cool themselves as there was not electricity in the complex,” Mr. Jarallah said. “So missiles touched bodies directly.”
The only good news here is that the ambulances did not reach the site, because if they had the coalition planes would have almost certainly carried out an outrageous “double tap” strike to kill the people coming to provide medical attention. That has been a standard tactic used by coalition forces throughout the Saudi-led war.
The latest attack on civilians was one of many thousands that have occurred since the Saudis and their allies began bombing Yemen. This was an egregious attack on civilians for which there is absolutely no excuse, and there have been many more like it enabled by U.S. arms and refueling. Until that military assistance is cut off, the U.S. will be aiding and abetting the coalition in carrying out atrocious attacks like this one. The slaughter of these civilians serves as a grim reminder of the cost of continued U.S. backing for this war and why it is so important that Congress vote to end that support as soon as possible.