Yemen's Houthis, armed by Iran, launched ballistic missiles at Israel’s southernmost city Eilat on Tuesday, in what could signal the expansion of the Gaza war.
The Houthi rebels officially entered the Israel-Hamas war Tuesday, when their military spokesman announced that they had launched several ballistic missiles and drones aimed at Israeli targets.
“The Yemeni Armed Forces confirm that this operation is the third operation in support of our oppressed brothers in Palestine,” Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said in a televised statement. “We will continue to carry out more qualitative strikes with missiles and drones until the Israeli aggression stops.”
The Houthis are yet another militant group backed by Iran. They’ve been effectively in a state of war with Saudi Arabia since 2015, and have claimed support for Palestinians since the Hamas terror attack on Israel on October 7.
The missile attack once again raises concerns that the war between Israel and Hamas could potentially involve other regional actors and set the whole Middle East ablaze.
Hezbollah in Lebanon published a third video of its leader Hassan Nasrullah on Tuesday, setting off another round of speculation that Hezbollah may be planning to declare war on Israel Friday.
Hassan Nasrullah is scheduled to speak at 3pm local time that day.
Tasnim News, a website affiliated with the IRGC, claimed on Tuesday that “America has sent messages to Hezbollah” to discourage them from entering the war with Israel.
The report is impossible to verify. It quotes “a senior source” from Hezbollah: “We made it clear that our duty is to be in the field, military, organizational, or intelligence. We’ll act with no warnings when it’s necessary. ”
The Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine are all part of an unofficial alliance that the Islamic Republic likes to call “the Axis of Resistance.”
It includes other groups in Iraq and Syria, which have also been busy targeting US forces in those countries.
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in the last two weeks there had been at least 30 rocket and drone attacks “by Iranian-backed militias” against American troops in Syria and Iraq.
“[These] attacks must stop or else the United States will not hesitate to respond and protect its people,” Austin said.
The United States has deployed aircraft carriers to throw its weight behind Israel and deter the spread of the war. Iran has also expressed its desire to prevent the war from escalating further. However, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian indicated that Tehran's proxies may take additional actions.
"They won't wait for anyone's advice,” he said “if the situation gets out of control, no party will be safe from its consequences."
Israel’s military says it has intercepted Houthi missiles and drones. Many experts say that attacks at this scale are more about sending a message than posing a significant military threat. However, concerns arise if a full-scale engagement erupts, potentially overwhelming Israel's air defenses.