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Israel intercepts apparent Houthi attack near port city of Eilat

Since November, Houthi rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in Red Sea and surrounding waters over Israel's war against Hamas

Israel intercepts apparent Houthi attack near port city of Eilat

Israel intercepted what appeared to be an attack launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Thursday near the port city of Eilat. Representative image/Reuters file



AP

Dubai, February 22

Israel intercepted what appeared to be an attack launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Thursday near the port city of Eilat as the group escalates its assaults over Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, authorities said.

Sirens sounded early Thursday morning over Eilat, followed by videos posted online of what appeared to be an interception in the sky overhead.

The Israeli military later described the interception as being carried out by its Arrow missile defence system.

Israel did not identify what the fire was, nor where it came from. However, the Arrow system intercepts long-range ballistic missiles with a warhead designed to destroy targets while they are in space.

The system “successfully intercepted a launch which was identified in the area of the Red Sea and was en route to Israel,” the Israeli military said.

“The target did not cross into Israeli territory and did not pose a threat to civilians.” The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack. They typically acknowledge assaults they conduct hours afterward.

Eilat, on the Red Sea, is a key port city of Israel.

On October 31, the Houthis first claimed a missile-and-drone barrage targeting the city. The rebels have claimed other attacks targeting Eilat, which have caused no damage in the city.

Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters over Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

They have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, imperilling shipping in a key route for trade among Asia, the Mideast and Europe. Those vessels have included at least one with cargo for Iran, the Houthis' main benefactor.

Despite a month of US-led airstrikes, the Houthi rebels remain capable of launching significant attacks. This week, they seriously damaged a ship in a crucial strait and downed an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars.

The Houthis insist their attacks will continue until Israel stops its combat operations in the Gaza Strip, which have enraged the wider Arab world and seen the Houthis gain international recognition.

On Wednesday, ships in the Red Sea off the Houthi-held port city of Hodeida in Yemen reported seeing an explosion, though all vessels in the area were said to be safe, according to the British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations centres. The UKMTO earlier reported heavy drone activity in the area.

The US military's Central Command acknowledged shooting down a Houthi bomb-carrying drone during that time. US airstrikes separately targeted seven mobile anti-ship cruise missiles and one mobile anti-ship ballistic missile prepared to target ships in the Red Sea, Central Command said.

The US State Department criticised “the reckless and indiscriminate attacks on civilian cargo ships by the Houthis” that have delayed humanitarian aid including food and medicine bound for Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen. That includes the Sea Champion, a ship carrying corn and other aid to both Aden and Hodeida.

“Contrary to what the Houthis may attempt to claim, their attacks do nothing to help the Palestinians,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement. “Their actions are not bringing a single morsel of assistance or food to the Palestinian people.”

#Dubai #Gaza #Gaza strip #Hamas #Israel


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