Houthis Warn Ready and Able to Attack ‘Israeli Enemy’
“Once our leadership decides to attack the Zionist enemy, we will be ready to do so.”
The Defense Minister of the Yemeni militant Houthi group, Major General Mohammad Al-Atefi, warned over the weekend that Houthis were prepared to attack “the Israeli enemy” for its role in a long series of Saudi-led attacks on the Houthis over the past few years.
Atefi’s remarks came during an interview with the Houthi-linked Al Masirah English-language website. The Major General noted that his government had identified an array of Israeli targets, which he called the “Zionist enemy,” adding that the enemy had engaged in military attacks since day one against “our country.”
“Once our leadership decides to attack the Zionist enemy, we will be ready to do so by targeting a list of locations within the Zionist entity,” Al-Atef was quoted as saying.
He also told Al Masirah that revenge is upcoming, undoubtedly.
Claims of Greater Houthi Capabilities
In the interview, the Houthi defense minister emphasized that the Houthis have been developing advanced military capabilities and is now capable of dealing a significant blow to the Saudi-led Arab military coalition in Yemen.
He accused the United Arab Emirates of conspiring against his country and called recent move towards peace as fake, adding that his group will not stay handcuffed to what he termed “continuous aggression” by those allying militarily against his country.
Atefi highlighted the group’s naval military capabilities, asserting that they are now capable of striking hard what he called the enemy’s forces.
Both the allegedly Iran-backed Houthis and the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition for Yemen recently engaged in a prisoner swap, coordinated and brokered by the United Nations. The exchange brought hope that it was a sign the Yemen War was nearing an end.
However, Atefi’s remarks cast doubt on the progress toward peace in Yemen. Atefi emphasized the Houthi’s air defense capabilities and claimed there will come a time when Houthis will declare Yemen’s airspace prohibited to the “aggression’s planes” and that “work is underway to neutralize hostile aircraft completely.”
Since March 2015, the Saudi-led military coalition has enforced both a land and sea blockade in rebel-held Yemen territories in an attempt to prevent the possible smuggling of weapons. A year later in 2016, the coalition shut down Yemen’s primary international airport the Sanaa International Airport, thus imposing an air blockade on Yemen.
Israeli Defense Minister Issues Stern Warning to Iran
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister, Naftali Bennett, was reported on Sunday as warning Iran against what he termed Irani support for militias in Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the region.
Bennett was quoted as saying, “The rules have changed and whoever shoots the state of Israel by day, will not sleep at night.”
The top Israeli military official’s comments came amidst reports of an alleged Israeli air raid on Syria targeting Iranian-backed militia weapons warehouses.
Addressing Iran, the minister added, “Our message to Iranian leaders is simple, you are no longer immune.” He warned that if Iran continues to stay entrenched in Syria, it will drown and bleed there.
“Syria will become your Vietnam,” he maintained, warning of possible more significant blows to Iran-linked elements in the Arab Syrian Republic.
The Yemen war
Over the last four years, the Yemen war has claimed tens of thousands of lives, as airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition bombed civilian targets ranging from school buses to wedding ceremonies.
The allies of Saudi Arabia – including the U.S., United Kingdom and Israel – have provided the coalition not only with funds and weapons but also with crucial technical assistance required to carry out precision airstrikes.
Additionally, 80% of Yemen’s population is in dire need of humanitarian assistance, with millions on the brink of starvation.
Fighting in Yemen began five years ago when Houthi rebels took control of large parts of the country, including the capital Sanaa, in late 2014. Mass protests and the Houthi rebel group forced the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi from power in 2015. Hadi is now reportedly residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The civil war has its roots in the 2011 Arab Spring, which led to a 2011 Yemen uprising that eventually forced the end of the 32-year-long regime of Yemen’s late president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The uprising grew into a military conflict in 2014 and has since caused the death of thousands of people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more.