The Israeli military successfully intercepted a ballistic missile targeting the southern coastal city of Eilat. The missile was launched by Yemen’s Houthi forces, who have taken responsibility, stating their actions would persist in response to what they describe as Israeli aggression.
“The interceptions occurred outside Israel’s borders, with no breach of our sovereign airspace,” the Israeli military confirmed in a statement.
The incoming missile was neutralized by Israel’s Arrow defense system, which represents the pinnacle of joint Israeli-American missile defense innovation, and this event marked the system’s debut in active defense.
The Arrow system was activated from the region of the Red Sea to eliminate the threat, as per the Israeli military’s report.
On Tuesday, before the missile interception, the military also dealt with incursions by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into Israeli airspace, all of which were successfully downed. “An alert was raised regarding the penetration of an adversarial aircraft near Eilat. The incident is currently under examination,” IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari posted online in the aftermath.
Houthi Prime Minister Abdel-Aziz Bin Habtour acknowledged the UAVs were dispatched from Yemen, with this acknowledgment reported by a French press agency.
The U.S. Navy has previously engaged similar threats from the Houthi faction, destroying cruise missiles and drones in the northern Red Sea that were presumably aimed at Israel. “The origin and likely destination of these threats from Yemen, traveling northwards along the Red Sea, suggest potential Israeli targets,” Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder stated post-incident.
In early 2022, the U.S. administration was considering re-listing the Houthis as a terrorist organization, a move contemplated openly by President Joe Biden.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates endorsed the potential re-designation. The UAE’s embassy highlighted the urgency, citing the group’s ongoing assaults, misuse of humanitarian aid, and attacks on civilian areas.
This reevaluation by the Biden administration follows the rescission of the Trump administration’s eleventh-hour designation of the Houthis as a terror group—a decision aimed at mitigating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cited the critical need for aid in Yemen and emphasized that U.S. policy should not hinder relief efforts in what the U.N. has called the worst humanitarian crisis.
“While we aim to address the humanitarian situation, we cannot ignore the destructive actions of Ansarallah (Houthis), including their seizure of Yemeni territory, assaults on our Gulf allies, U.S. and allied nationals’ abductions, diversion of aid, suppression of Yemenis, and the lethal December 30 attack in Aden against Yemen’s legitimate government,” Blinken further remarked.