Houthi rebels say they have fired rockets at Israel
The Houthi rebels in Yemen to have claimed new rocket attacks against Israel on Fridayafter the Israeli army reported intercepting a missile over the Red Sea.
The Houthis say in a press release that they have carried out a “military operation against specific targets of the Israeli enemy (…) with ballistic missiles“.
The Israeli army said its anti-aircraft system “intercepted a ground-based missile approaching Israeli territory in the Red Sea zone.”
The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, wrote in their press release that they “will not hesitate to carry out further military operations against the Zionist enemy on the ground and at sea until the violence against the Gaza Strip stops and the blockade is lifted.” that Israel has set up.
The rebels, who in their own words act in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gazahave carried out several drone and missile attacks on Israel since the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7.
The Houthis have also been fighting since November attacks against ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, important passages for global trade.
On Thursday, the US military shot down a drone loaded with explosives off the coast of Yemen. CENTCOM, the US military command for the Middle East, also reported that the Houthis fired two missiles at a cargo ship, without hitting their target.
Iraq condemns US attacks against targets on Iraqi territory: “Violation of sovereignty”
Iraq on Saturday condemned US retaliatory strikes against pro-Iranian armed groups on Iraqi territory as “a violation of Iraqi sovereignty”. It also warned of “disastrous consequences for the stability of Iraq and the region,” according to Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani’s military spokesman.
The US said it carried out air strikes on Friday against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria. The attacks are in retaliation for the deaths of three American soldiers in Jordan.
General Yehia Rasool, spokesperson for the Iraqi Prime Minister, confirmed the US attacks in the Al-Qaim sector, on the border with Syria and “other Iraqi border regions”. The attacks “are a threat that will drag Iraq and the region into an unpredictable situation that will have disastrous consequences,” he said.
US carries out retaliatory attacks on pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq: 85 targets hit
The United States carried out air strikes on 85 targets in Iraq and Syria on Friday. This was reported by the Command of the American Armed Forces in the Middle East, CENTCOM. At least 18 pro-Iranian fighters were killed, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
US President Biden said in a statement that US retaliation began today and “will continue at times and locations of our choosing.” Biden also says the US does not seek “conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world” but that the country will respond if Americans are hurt.
Airstrikes on pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq
The United States began carrying out retaliatory strikes in Iraq and Syria on Friday. Three American officials said this after a deadly attack in Jordan that killed three American soldiers and injured about 40 others. This was reported by news agencies ‘Reuters’ and ‘AP’.
The US is targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and other pro-Iranian militias. “US forces struck more than 85 targets, using numerous US aircraft, including long-range bombers. The airstrikes used more than 125 precision munitions.” This was reported by CENTCOM, the American Command for the Middle East.
At least six pro-Iranian fighters are said to have been killed in eastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Syrian state media speak of “American attacks at the Syrian-Iraqi border with some deaths and injuries.”
Anonymous sources within the Pentagon initially denied the attacks.
According to the United States, the aforementioned attack on Americans in Jordan was carried out by militants working with Iran. The US previously also imposed sanctions on individuals and groups working with the Iranian armed forces.
“Rafah is a pressure cooker of despair”
The city of Rafah is a “pressure cooker of despair”. This was said by the spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as Palestinians fled to the south of the Gaza Strip on Friday.
Spokesman Jens Laerke says hostilities in Khan Younis have forced more people to flee further to Rafah in the far south of Gaza.
“Thousands of Palestinians continue to flee to the south, where more than half of the population of approximately 2.3 million people already lives. Rafah is a pressure cooker of despair, and we fear what is to come,” Laerke said.
Blinken will exert pressure in the Middle East for the release of hostages
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will press for the release of hostages in exchange for a pause in Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Blinken will do this during his trip to the Middle East, the State Department said on Friday.
Blinken is heading to Qatar and Egypt, which are acting as mediators in the conflict, as well as to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia.
It is already his fifth trip to the Middle East since the start of the war between the Palestinian terrorist movement Hamas and Israel.
Times of Israel: Israeli army wants to extend fighting in Gaza Strip south to Rafah
The army wants to extend the fighting in the Gaza Strip to Rafah, in the far south of the coastal strip. This is what the English-language Israeli newspaper Times of Israel writes.
The army wants to lure the Palestinian extremist organization Hamas to Rafah, on the border with Egypt, and disperse them there, as is happening with the Hamas battalions in the southern city of Khan Younis, the newspaper quotes Defense Minister Yoav Galant.
It is estimated that more than 1.3 million people live in Rafah and the surrounding area, more than half of the Gaza Strip’s population of 2.2 million. Most of them have fled their homes from fighting elsewhere in the Gaza Strip. Before the war, Rafah had 250,000 inhabitants.
According to the newspaper, Galant said on Wednesday during a visit to troops in Khan Younis that the Hamas brigade in the city was on the verge of collapse. Israel considers Khan Younis a Hamas stronghold. Galant also reportedly stated that the operation in Khan Younis will be completed and Rafah will then be reached “to eliminate any terrorist who tries to harm us.”
The American newspaper Wall Street Journal wrote three weeks ago on the authority of anonymous sources that Israel had informed Egypt of a military operation on the border.
The Rafah border post is controlled by Egyptian and Palestinian officials. The latter work for Hamas. Israel suspects that Hamas is smuggling goods and weapons into the Gaza Strip through tunnels under the border with Egypt.