In a dramatic escalation of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, Yemen’s Houthi rebels have declared their active participation, launching a series of missile and drone attacks targeting Israel from over 1,000 miles away. This marks a significant expansion in the scope of the conflict, as the Houthis, backed by Iran, rally in support of Hamas and the Palestinian cause.
The Houthi movement, entrenched in an eight-year-long war against a Saudi-led coalition in the Gulf, has now opened a new front, directly challenging Israel. In a televised statement on Tuesday, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree confirmed the group had dispatched a “large number” of ballistic missiles and drones towards Israel. Saree emphasized that this was only the beginning, promising more attacks to “help the Palestinians to victory.”
BREAKING: YEMEN DECLARED THEY ARE NOW AT WAR WITH ISRAEL— Sulaiman Ahmed (@ShaykhSulaiman) October 31, 2023
The Republic of Yemen is the first country officially to announce its entry into the “Battle of the Flood” of Al-Aqsa and launches a large number of ballistic and winged missiles and drones at a number of Israeli IOF… pic.twitter.com/A7p1HmQgCA
The unfolding events are stirring anxiety across the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter. As Israel intensifies its efforts to dismantle Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the involvement of the Houthis amplifies fears of the conflict spilling over borders and destabilizing the Middle East even further.
This marks the third time the Houthis have targeted Israel since the conflict’s inception, taking credit for a drone attack on October 28 that caused explosions in Egypt and another incident on October 19 when the U.S. navy intercepted three cruise missiles. Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi condemned the Houthi attacks as intolerable but did not provide details on how Israel might retaliate.
Part of the wider “Axis of Resistance” backed by Iran, the Houthis stand alongside Iranian-supported militias in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah in opposing Israel and the United States. These groups have intensified attacks across the region since October 7, showing a united front in the face of perceived aggression.
However, the Houthi attacks, while demonstrative of their missile and drone capabilities, are viewed by some analysts as more symbolic than a direct military threat. Mohanad Hage Ali from the Carnegie Middle East Center notes that while the risk of a large-scale engagement involving multiple rocket launches could overwhelm Israel’s air defenses, the current attacks appear to be “more about messaging than a real military threat.”
BREAKING:— Megatron (@Megatron_ron) October 31, 2023
🇾🇪🇮🇱 Yemen Military Spokesman:
'The armed forces of our country just fired a large number of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and a large number of drones at various targets of the Israeli enemy in the occupied territories' pic.twitter.com/W8DghmZZOy
Amid these rising tensions, Saudi Arabia finds itself in a precarious position, striving to maintain a balanced stance while navigating the complexities of regional politics. With a direct flight path for Houthi missiles and drones passing over Saudi territory, the kingdom faces increased risks of becoming entangled in the conflict.
Despite recent diplomatic overtures between Saudi Arabia and Iran aimed at easing longstanding tensions, the latest developments threaten to undo progress, pushing the region further into uncertainty and strife. As the “circle of conflict” expands, the world watches closely, hoping for a de-escalation before the situation spirals out of control.
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