DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen issued a video statement on Tuesday claiming to have fired ballistic missiles and drones at Israel, saying it was the third such operation. They threatened to carry out more strikes “until the Israeli aggression stops.”
The claims by the Houthis draw Iran closer into the ongoing Israel-Hamas war as Tehran remains a main sponsor.
Earlier this month, a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Red Sea intercepted three cruise missiles and several drones launched toward Israel by the Houthis, who control much of northern Yemen, including its capital, Sanaa. Mysterious projectiles have also struck inside Egypt, near the Israeli border.
Iran has long denied arming the Houthis even as it has been transferring rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other weaponry to the Yemeni militia using sea routes. Independent experts, Western nations and United Nations experts have traced components seized aboard other detained vessels back to Iran.
A U.N. arms embargo has prohibited weapons transfers to the Houthis since 2014, when Yemen’s civil war erupted.
There also has been at least one attack that the Houthis claimed where suspicion later fell fully on Iran. In 2019, cruise missiles and drones successfully penetrated Saudi Arabia and struck the heart of its oil industry in Abqaiq. That attack temporarily halved the kingdom’s production and spiked global energy prices by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War.
While the Houthis claimed the Abqaiq attack, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and analysts blamed Iran. U.N. experts similarly said it was “unlikely” the Houthis carried out the assault, though Tehran denied being involved.
ISRAELI GROUND FORCES ATTACK HAMAS TARGETS IN NORTH AS WARPLANES STRIKE ACROSS GAZA
A deluge of Israeli airstrikes Tuesday on a refugee camp near Gaza City demolished apartment buildings, leaving gaping holes where they once stood, while ground troops battled Hamas militants across northern Gaza. Buoyed by the first successful rescue of a captive held by Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for a cease-fire and again vowed to crush the militant group’s ability to govern Gaza or threaten Israel.
Though more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes, several hundred thousand remain in the north, where Israeli troops and tanks have reportedly advanced on multiple sides of Gaza City.
The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war has reached 8,525, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, more than 122 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, most of them civilians slain in the initial Hamas rampage that started the fighting Oct. 7. In addition, 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by the militant group. One of the captives, a female Israeli soldier, was rescued in a special forces operation.
GAZA HEALTH MINISTRY SAYS 219 PEOPLE DIED IN THE PAST DAY, BRINGING TOTAL TO 8,525
CAIRO — The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said Tuesday it registered the deaths of at least 219 people in the past day, bringing the death toll to 8,525 since the war began.
Spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said in a televised news conference that the fatalities include 3,542 children and 2,187 women.
He said the main power generator in the Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahia, north of Gaza, has stopped working due to a lack of fuel.
He warned that more hospitals could go out of service in the coming days if fuel isn’t allowed into the besieged territory.
FBI DIRECTOR WARNS OF INCREASED RISK OF TERROR ATTACKS IN WAKE OF ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR
WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that multiple foreign extremist groups have called for attacks against Americans and the West in the past few weeks and suggested Hamas’ attack on Israel could inspire threats like those motivated by the Islamic State group years ago.
“We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate years ago,” Wray testified before a U.S. Senate committee.
Wray said the FBI isn’t currently tracking an “organized threat” in the U.S., but law enforcement is concerned about the war unfolding in the Middle East inspiring individual people or small groups to attack Americans in their daily lives.
The FBI expects cyber targeting of American interests and infrastructure, as well as the threat of other attacks, to get worse as the conflict expands, he said.
“It is a time to be concerned. We are in a dangerous period,” Wray said. “We shouldn’t stop going out but should be vigilant.”
NATO CHIEF WARNS AGAINST ESCALATION OF MIDEAST TENSIONS
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that Iran, Hezbollah and other groups must not abuse the current situation and escalate the tensions in the Middle East.
“It is also important that this war does not escalate into a major regional conflict,” Stoltenberg said in Oslo, where he attended the annual meeting of the Nordic Council.
“The suffering we have seen in recent weeks reminds us once again that we must not give up the work for a lasting, peaceful political solution to the conflict,” he said.
The eight-member regional grouping includes Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, as well as the autonomous areas of the Aland islands, the Faeroe Islands and Greenland.
WAR RAISES FEARS FOR ISRAEL’S FARMING FUTURE
ASHKELON, Israel — The soldiers guarding Avi Chivivian’s organic vegetable farm in southern Israel must first scour every corner of his fields for militants before they give him the all clear: He has six hours to work.
It’s potato planting season for the farms of southern Israel, a region near the Gaza border that the Agriculture Ministry calls the country’s “vegetable barn” because it supplies at least a third of Israel’s vegetables. But Chivivian, one of the few remaining farmers in the area since the brutal Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas militants, no longer lives by the harvest cycle. He’s on the military’s timetable.
The Israel-Hamas war has plunged Israel’s agricultural heartlands, located around the Gaza Strip and in the north near the Lebanese and Syrian borders, into crisis. Israeli airstrikes, ground operations and a siege have also upendedall manner of lifein Gaza.
Near Gaza, the military has banned all farming within 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) of the border fence and tightly monitors farmers whose lands lie just outside the no-go zone.
In the north, entire communities have been evacuated because of rocket fire from Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group. As foreign laborers flee and farming towns have emptied out, the country has begun importing more vegetables. The few remaining farmers fret for the future of Israeli agriculture.