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The forgotten war fronts: IDF fends off long-range threats from Yemen and Iraq

IDF intercepts ballistic missile fired at Eilat from Yemen

Newly recruited fighters who joined a Houthi military force intended to be sent to fight in support of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, march during a parade in Sanaa, Yemen Dec. 2, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)

While the intense fighting against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the daily attacks by Hezbollah in the north dominate most of the media coverage about Israel these days, it's important to remember that Israel is actually engaged in a war on at least seven fronts.

In addition to those two active fronts, Israel continues to face constant threats from the West Bank and has also suffered attacks from Iran and Syria.

Furthermore, Iranian proxy militias in Yemen and Iraq have been probing Israeli air defense systems with long-range projectiles almost every week, and recently escalated their attacks using larger and more sophisticated munitions.

On Monday morning, a rocket alarm siren was activated in the southern city of Eilat. The IDF later said it had successfully intercepted a surface-to-surface ballistic missile over the Red Sea, using the Arrow defense system.

The Houthi terror group in Yemen has been shooting drones and missiles at Israel in support of Hamas since last October.

While most of its attacks were intercepted, at the start of April a drone struck a building at an IDF naval base in Eilat. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an Iran-backed network of Shia Islamist terrorist groups, took responsibility for the attack.

“Iran is encouraging militias in Iraq to use drones to strike Israel. Iran has backed militias in Iraq for many years, trafficking weapons and drone technology to these dangerous groups,” Seth Frantzman, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in April.

“The Iran-backed groups in Iraq and in neighboring Syria have carried out hundreds of attacks on U.S. forces over the last four years, and they have expanded their regional threats to attack Israel,” Frantzman added.

Just one week ago, two additional drones launched by the group were shot down near Eilat by an Israeli Air Force (IAF) fighter jet, as well as “ground-based air defense systems,” the IDF reported.

A few days later, the Israeli army said it shot down a cruise missile approaching the southern Golan Heights “from the east,” a phrase the IDF uses to describe attacks launched from Iraq.

The Houthis have attacked Israel at least 53 times since the start of the war, according to The Jerusalem Post, and severely impacted ship commerce through the Bab al-Mandab straits, effectively shutting off Eilat’s once busy port.

“The Houthis are trying to suffocate Eilat and its economy,” Gideon Golber, the Eilat port director-general told The Media Line.

“The remaining Israeli ports are absorbing shipments delivered through the Red Sea, but Eilat has unused logistics equipment and personnel. If the conflict in the north, between Israel and Hezbollah, further escalates, impacting the ports in the Mediterranean Sea, this could become a national threat.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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