The Israeli military claimed on Tuesday that it has stopped an Iranian-backed Houthi rebel aircraft strike in Yemen, as concerns about the potential escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict grow throughout the region.
A representative for the Houthi forces, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, said that ballistic missiles and drones had been launched against targets in Israel in what he described as the third operation in support of the Palestinian people, according to the Houthi-owned Al-Masirah TV.
He went on to say that further strikes were planned until the “Israeli aggression” stopped.
“Our armed forces launched a large batch of ballistic and winged missiles and a large number of drones at various targets of the Israeli enemy,” he said, referring to all of Israel as “occupied territories.”
In Yemen, the Houthis are a Shia political and military group that has been engaged in a civil war with a coalition supported by Saudi Arabia. They have coordinated rallies against Israel’s Gaza offensive in Yemen and shown sympathy for the Palestinians.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement earlier on Tuesday that it had successfully intercepted a surface-to-surface missile fired from the Red Sea region using its Arrow aerial defense system for the first time.
The Houthis employed a more sophisticated, long-range missile in their attempted strike, as evidenced by the deployment of the Arrow defense system, which is intended to intercept high-altitude missiles.
Additionally, Israeli aircraft in the region intercepted what the IDF called “aerial threats.” All threats, according to the IDF, were stopped outside of Israeli land.
The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, have escalated their attempts to target Israel, and regional tensions are growing even as the US struggles to keep a potential Middle East conflict under control.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the foreign minister of Iran, issued a warning on Tuesday, stating that there was a “expansion of conflicts in the region” and that members of resistance organizations would “not remain silent against America’s full support” of Israel, nor would they “wait for anyone’s advice.”
“We need to use the last political opportunities to stop the war and if the situation gets out of control, no side will be safe from its consequences,” he said, according to a readout from Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Houthi attacks on Tuesday came after a failed effort that occurred two weeks prior. According to a US person familiar with the circumstances, on October 19, a US destroyer near the Yemeni coast fired down 15 drones and four cruise missiles over the course of nine hours as they were traveling north along the Red Sea. The official stated that the rockets’ trajectory clearly indicated that they were aimed towards Israel.
According to Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, press secretary for the Pentagon, the missiles were fired by Houthi troops in Yemen who were backed by Iran and were aimed “potentially toward targets in Israel.” It is extremely uncommon for the US to intercept Houthi rockets.
Iran has continued to arm and train the Houthis in Yemen, the Syrian regime, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, despite decades of harsh sanctions imposed by the US.
Since the start of the conflict, Israel and Hezbollah, a potent Shia group, have fought every day along the Israel-Lebanon border. The US sent two carrier groups to the eastern Mediterranean in October in an effort to prevent Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria from creating new fronts against Israel.
US outposts in Iraq and Syria have also been periodically attacked since the most recent conflict in Gaza broke out in response to Hamas’ murderous October 7th massacre.