Houthi Rebels Announce Assaults on Israel, Bringing Main Sponsor Iran Closer to Ongoing Gaza Conflict

by Sophia Chen
Houthi attacks on Israel

For the first time, Yemen’s Houthi insurgents announced that they had initiated missile and drone strikes aimed at Israel, consequently pulling their primary backer, Iran, deeper into the continuing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This development elevates the risk of a wider regional confrontation.

Earlier this month, the Houthis were believed to have targeted Israel by launching projectiles across the vital Red Sea maritime corridor. The U.S. Navy intercepted these missiles at the time. In a new development on Tuesday, Israel reported that its fighter jets and newly deployed Arrow missile defense system successfully intercepted two waves of incoming projectiles as they neared Eilat, Israel’s important Red Sea port.

The Houthi forces, who have controlled Yemen’s capital city of Sanaa since 2014 amid the country’s devastating conflict, later acknowledged launching three attacks on Israel. However, they did not provide additional details regarding the timing or nature of these operations.

In addition to the U.S. Navy’s interception of the Houthi missiles, a mysterious explosion occurred last Thursday in the Egyptian resort town of Taba, close to the Israeli border. This blast, which has not been explained by Egyptian officials, resulted in six injuries.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, the military spokesperson for the Houthi rebels, declared on television, “Our armed forces have fired a significant number of ballistic missiles and drones at various Israeli targets.” He further confirmed this operation as the third of its kind aimed at aiding their “oppressed brothers in Palestine,” pledging to continue these strikes until Israeli hostilities cease.

For Israel, this event marked an exceedingly rare operational use of its Arrow missile defense system, designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles while they are still in space, as reported by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Israeli military confirmed that all aerial threats were neutralized outside Israeli territory and that no incursions into Israeli land had occurred. However, the incident did trigger an uncommon air raid siren in Eilat, located approximately 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Jerusalem, causing residents to seek refuge in shelters.

The specific weaponry used by the Houthis was not disclosed by Saree. Nonetheless, the employment of the Arrow system suggests that a ballistic missile was likely involved. The Houthis possess a variant of the Burkan ballistic missile, believed to be capable of reaching distances over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), adequate to strike areas near Eilat.

This latest episode of missile fire occurs while the U.S. naval vessel USS Bataan, equipped to carry troops and aircraft, is presumed to be present in the Red Sea, along with other American ships.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, acknowledged the Houthi attack against Israel and indicated that the rebels have missiles capable of reaching distances up to 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles), stating, “We will continue to monitor this situation closely to avoid a broader regional conflict.”

Saudi Arabia did not provide a response to inquiries. The nation recently reported the loss of four soldiers in its southern Jazan province due to skirmishes with the Houthis, even as it seeks a peaceful resolution to its prolonged conflict with the rebel group, according to anonymous sources cited by Bloomberg on Tuesday.

This latest proclamation by the Houthis implicates Iran further in the regional hostilities. Iran has long supported both the Houthi and Hamas movements, as well as the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, which continues its lethal exchanges with Israel. U.S. forces have also been targeted in drone attacks on bases in Iraq and Syria, claimed by groups allied with Iran, since the inception of this conflict.

The Houthi rebels adhere to the Shiite Zaydi faith, a sect of Shiite Islam that is largely confined to Yemen. Their long-standing slogan reads, “God is the greatest; death to America; death to Israel; curse the Jews; victory to Islam.”

Thomas Juneau, a professor at the University of Ottawa, remarked that it was merely a matter of time before the Houthis could carry out such attacks, attributing their growing missile capabilities to Iranian assistance. Juneau warned that another front to Israel’s south heightens the risk of overwhelming Israel’s air defenses, particularly if Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups initiate extensive missile barrages.

Despite its denials, Iran has been linked to arming the Houthis through various means, including sea routes, according to independent analysts, Western countries, and United Nations experts. A United Nations arms embargo has prohibited the transfer of weapons to the Houthi rebels since 2014.

In 2019, an attack that decimated the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry in Abqaiq was claimed by the Houthis, but the United States, Saudi Arabia, and various analysts attributed the strike to Iran. United Nations experts similarly expressed skepticism that the Houthis could have executed this operation, though Iran has denied involvement.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations warned that allied militias like the Houthis may widen their operations against Israel, emphasizing that the American administration bears the responsibility to halt Israeli transgressions.

The reporting for this article was contributed by Jack Jeffrey and Sam Magdy in Cairo, correspondents for Big Big News.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Houthi attacks on Israel

What is the main focus of the article?

The main focus of the article is the first-time claim by Yemen’s Houthi rebels of missile and drone attacks targeting Israel, and the implications this has for Iran’s role in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Who are the Houthi rebels’ primary backers?

The primary backers of the Houthi rebels are believed to be Iran, although Iran has officially denied arming them.

What defense systems did Israel use to intercept the missiles?

Israel used its fighter jets and its newly deployed Arrow missile defense system to intercept two waves of incoming projectiles aimed at its key Red Sea shipping port of Eilat.

What is the regional impact of these attacks?

The Houthi attacks bring Iran closer to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and raise the risk of a broader regional confrontation, involving multiple countries and non-state actors.

What was the U.S. Navy’s role in an earlier Houthi attack?

In an earlier attack this month believed to be initiated by the Houthis, the U.S. Navy intercepted missiles that were sent across the crucial Red Sea maritime corridor.

How did Saudi Arabia respond?

Saudi Arabia did not provide a response to inquiries. However, they have recently lost four soldiers in fighting with the Houthis and are in ongoing attempts to reach a peace deal with them.

How has Iran reacted to the situation?

Iran’s mission to the U.N. warned that allied militias like the Houthis could expand their operations against Israel and emphasized that the responsibility to halt Israeli transgressions lies with the American administration.

What weapons are the Houthis believed to have used?

Though not confirmed, the use of Israel’s Arrow system suggests the Houthis likely used a ballistic missile for the attack. They are known to possess a variant of the Burkan ballistic missile, capable of reaching over 1,000 kilometers.

Is there any evidence of Iran arming the Houthis?

While Iran has denied arming the Houthis, independent analysts, Western countries, and United Nations experts have traced components seized aboard detained vessels back to Iran.

What is the international community doing to prevent escalation?

The Pentagon’s press secretary stated that they will continue to monitor the situation closely to avoid a broader regional conflict, but no specific international initiatives have been announced.

More about Houthi attacks on Israel

  • Houthi Rebels in Yemen
  • Israel-Hamas Conflict
  • Iran’s Role in Middle East Conflicts
  • Arrow Missile Defense System
  • Regional Implications of Houthi Attacks
  • U.S. Navy’s Role in Red Sea
  • Saudi Arabia and the Houthis
  • Iran’s Mission to the U.N.
  • Ballistic Missiles in the Middle East
  • UN Arms Embargo on Houthis

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Tech_Guru November 1, 2023 - 9:14 am

The Arrow system at work finally, huh. Always read about it, but seeing it in action is something else. Wonder how effective it is long-term.

FinanceWizard November 1, 2023 - 9:44 am

Global implications much? Yemen’s conflict was already a mess affecting shipping lanes, and now its spreading. This could affect markets, ppl need to pay attention.

RealPolitik November 1, 2023 - 11:54 am

Saudi’s silence is deafening here. They’ve been fighting Houthis for years, and now the Houthis are extending their reach. Saudis need a new strategy, fast.

Emily2023 November 1, 2023 - 3:09 pm

seriously, this is a big deal! Iran getting closer to the Hamas-Israel conflict could spell trouble for everyone. Watchin closely.

JohnSmith77 November 1, 2023 - 3:19 pm

Wow, things are really heating up in the Middle East. Never thought I’d see the day where Houthis are targeting Israel. What’s next?

SimpleCitizen November 1, 2023 - 4:48 pm

so now its not just Hamas but Houthis too? man, things are going from bad to worse.

AnalyzeThis November 1, 2023 - 8:45 pm

UN arms embargo clearly not workin if Houthis are firing missiles that far. Int’l community needs to step up.

Geo_Watch November 1, 2023 - 8:53 pm

Houthi attacks plus the Hezbollah-Israel skirmishes? Too many fronts for Israel, its gettin risky.

QuestionEverything November 2, 2023 - 12:54 am

Does anyone else think that Iran has been sponsoring both groups for a long time and now it’s just coming to light? Their denial doesnt add up.

SarahTalks November 2, 2023 - 3:24 am

The U.S is stuck in the middle again. They shot down missiles from Houthis and now what? We’re gonna be in another endless war?


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