New Zealanders warned of possible long, messy Middle East conflict amid Houthi attacks

There are warnings New Zealand could end up embroiled in another long and messy Middle East conflict. 

The Government is sending six Defence Force personnel to the Red Sea to help with maritime security as Houthi rebels in Yemen continue to attack commercial and naval ships, claiming it shows their support for Palestinians.

Striking in the dead of night, British and American fighter jets were enroute to Yemen, where they bombed Houthi targets in Sanaa. 

The UK and US Governments say they are sending a clear message to Houthi rebels to stop attacking ships in the red sea. 

But the Houthi-run foreign affairs ministry has issued a warning of its own - giving British and American citizens 30 days to leave the country. 

A world away from the Middle East, the New Zealand Government on Wednesday was defending its decision to deploy six defence force officers to the Red Sea. 

"This is a serious issue for the world and it means that actually people from some countries are going to face starvation," Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said. 

"They are going to have difficulties actually securing food, and a whole range of issues. So, we are standing up for values here," he added. 

"We are not surprised but horrified by that decision," Green co-leader Marama Davidson told Newshub. 

"Our role should be peacekeeping on justice that is enduring, and on being independent and not hooking our trailer on the US," Davidson stressed. 

The Iran-backed Houthis claim they are supporting Palestinians who are under attack from Israel. The Palestinian death toll in Israel's assault on Gaza surpassed 25,000 this week.

"These strikes do not scare us and will not turn a hair on our heads," a man in Yemen said. "We are steadfast, and support Palestine from within our hearts." 

"America has Israel's back and it's also protecting the waterways, so some people would see that we're helping America protect Israel, that would be a mistake, what we're doing is legitimate, but we need to make sure we keep an independent foreign policy." International law expert Al Gillespie said. 

"I think conflating the two issues is completely, utterly wrong," Luxon said. 

There are also concerns that despite the Government's promise the Kiwi deployment is only for six months and there's an assurance they won't enter Yemen, getting involved in the Middle East now could drag us into something even more ugly.

"It's a situation that could rapidly expand and if it does and the war goes sideways, the expectation would be that we end up doing a greater deployment than we've got so far," Gillespie said. 

Newshub asked Luxon if we could now, more easily, be dragged into a war. 

His response was: "No, our small team of six, we've got it time limited to 31 July." 

However, there's no end in sight to the conflict.