Israel Faces New Enemies, Threats of ‘Annihilation’
As Israel’s ground war to exterminate Hamas from the Gaza Strip begins in earnest, the world’s only Jewish state faces a new enemy as the Yemen-based Houthi terror group, also funded and armed by Iran, took credit for “a large batch of ballistic and cruise missiles and a large number of drones on various Israeli enemy targets,” launched Tuesday.
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday intercepted two barrages of Houthi missiles that approached the key Red Sea shipping port of Eilat. Israel had moved missile defense systems and fighters into the area after an earlier barrage of missiles was launched toward Israel from Yemen on October 19. That barrage was intercepted by a U.S. navy ship in the Red Sea.
A Houthi military spokesman claimed this was the terror group’s “third operation in support of our oppressed brothers in Palestine.” He threatened that the Houthis will “continue to carry out more qualitative strikes with missiles and drones until the Israeli aggression stops.”
The Houthis are among the most successful and well-supplied of Iran’s terror group proxies. While not the legitimate government of Yemen, Houthi rebels have controlled the country’s capital, Sana’a, since 2012. Unlike other Iranian proxies closer to Israel’s border, the Shiite extremist group’s strategic location on the Red Sea enables Iran to supply them directly by sea, as opposed to by land or not at all.
In February 2021, the Biden administration removed the Houthis from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
According to Ahmed Nagi, a senior Yemen analyst at the International Crisis Group, “The Houthis stepping into the battlefield, even in a symbolic manner, sends a clear message to Israel — an unmistakable indication that a new force has emerged against it in the region.”
The Houthi’s longstanding slogan is, “God is the greatest; death to America; death to Israel; curse the Jews; victory to Islam.” “Now they have the hard power to back it,” remarked University of Ottawa professor Thomas Juneau.
The Houthis are not the only group proclaiming “death to Israel.” Hamas is also committed to the country’s “annihilation.”
“Israel is a country that has no place on our land. We must remove that country, because it constitutes a security, military, and political catastrophe to the Arab and Islamic nation, and must be finished — we are not ashamed to say this — with full force,” senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said on LBC TV (Lebanon) on October 24. He promised that Hamas would repeat the October 7 terror attack as many times as it took.
When the news anchor asked whether Hamad meant “the annihilation of Israel,” he replied, “Yes, of course.”
“The existence of Israel is illogical,” Hamad continued. “The existence of Israel is what causes all that pain, blood, and tears. It is Israel, not us. We are the victims of the occupation. Period. Therefore, nobody should blame us for the things we do. On October 7, October 10, October 1,000,000 — everything we do is justified.”
On October 7, Hamas militants invaded Israel, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and wounding more than 5,300. Hamas also kidnapped more than 200 people as hostages and brought them back to Gaza. “They burned people alive, they raped women, they beheaded men, they tortured Holocaust survivors, they kidnapped babies,” lamented Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Monday press conference.
Three days after Hamad endorsed “the annihilation of Israel,” the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution demanding that Israel accept a ceasefire and denouncing civilian casualties from Israel’s bombing in Gaza. The UNGA voted down an amendment to the resolution that would explicitly condemn Hamas’s terror attack.
“After the horrific attacks of October 7, calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism. That will not happen,” said Netanyahu. “Just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas.”
After striking more than 11,000 targets in Gaza and conducting some preliminary ground incursions, IDF troops entered Gaza in earnest earlier this week. On Wednesday, IDF announced that 15 soldiers were killed in action inside Gaza on Tuesday.
Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2006, when Israel withdrew and allowed the local population to elect their own government, and has attacked Israel regularly ever since. Israel has often retaliated with airstrikes while allowing Hamas to remain in power. However, after October 7, the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust, Israel is determined to root Hamas out of the Gaza Strip for good.
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.