Supported by Iran, the armed group Ansar Allah [or “Houthis”] has equipped itself with an arsenal as large as it is diversified to counter the military coalition that Saudi Arabia launched to support the troops loyal to Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi, recognized Yemeni president. As a result, it now has ballistic missiles and drones with sufficient range to reach southern Israel, as demonstrated by the recent attacks it has launched in support of Hamas.

That said, in addition to the air-ground operations carried out in Gaza to reduce Hamas after the terrorist attacks of October 7, Israel must confront a focus of instability fueled by Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia, in the north of its territory, while taking care to prevent deliveries of Iranian weapons to armed groups in Syria. And it must also take into account the threats from the Houthi militia, which do not only consist of launching missiles and drones into Israeli territory.

On November 14, Yemeni rebels warned that they “will not hesitate to attack” Israeli ships that might pass through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea. And these are not empty threats since they have the necessary weapons to carry them out …and they have already carried out these types of actions in the past, especially against Saudi and Emirati ships.

So far, none of the missiles launched from Yemen have caused any casualties in Israel, thanks in large part to the effectiveness of the Israeli air defense system, which, for the first time, is believed to have intercepted and destroyed one of these missiles in the high atmosphere. But it is not ruled out that one of them ends up hitting the target… Hence, the warning issued by General Tomer Bar, head of the Israeli Air Force [IAF], on November 16.

“As the strategic arm of the State of Israel, the Israeli Air Force is prepared and operates throughout the Middle East, in all areas, where necessary,” declared General Tomer Bar, in front of an F-15I of the 133 Squadron, a unit with base in Tel Nof that participated in the attack on the Osirak nuclear site [Iraq] in 1981 [Operation Opera]. “Of course, we are well prepared with operational plans,” he added.

Although General Bar did not say it explicitly, the Tsahal (Israel’s army) did not rule out retaliating against attacks by Houthi rebels. Above all, because, he admitted, although the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow air defense systems have a “high percentage” of interceptions, they do not constitute an “airtight” defense.