Netanyahu says Iran seeking means to attack Israel from Yemen
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have accused Iran of seeking the means to launch precision-guided missiles at Israel from Yemen, a signal that the war-torn Gulf Arab country could come under yet another pre-emptive Israeli attack.
Last week Israel killed an alleged militant commander in an airstrike extrajudicially in Northern Gaza, and several more airstrikes that saw more than 100 Palestinians killed, schools closed and normal life disrupted in Gaza. Several rockets were also fired then in retaliation from Gaza only to be intercepted by Israel’s powerful Iron Dome system.
“Iran wants to develop precision-guided missiles that can hit any target in Israel within five to ten meters. Iran hopes to use Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen as bases to attack Israel with statistical missiles and precision-guided missiles. That is a great, great danger,” Netanyahu said in a speech in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu made his allegations, which were short on details, as he hosted a senior U.S. delegation and following days of unusually voluble warnings in Israel that war could break out with Iran or its allies on more than one front.
Neither Iran nor the Yemeni Houthi fighters it sponsors had an immediate response to Israel’s allegation. The Houthis use missiles and drones in their war against a coalition led by neighboring Saudi Arabia but there is scant public indication they possess weapons capable of traveling the some 2,000 km (1,240 miles) to Israel.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the IDF, said Israel cannot overlook threats from the north, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iranian-backed forces in Syria. Israel has carried out more than 1,000 airstrikes in Syria in recent years, and Iraq’s government has accused Israel of carrying out airstrikes against pro-Iranian militias north of Baghdad. Iran and its proxies have fired rockets at Israel three times since February 2018 and launched drones from Syria to target Israel.
After having deployed two fighter squadrons of F-15s, new air defense systems (including two Patriot batteries and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD)) and other assets last month, USAF two B-1B Bombers have arrived at Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB), where US F-22s and EA-18G Growlers are also deployed. All these deployments represents US military build-up in Saudi Arabia that was started in the aftermath of cruise missile and drone attack on Saudi oil infrastructure on September 14, 2019. The attack on Saudi oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais sent shock waves through both the global energy market and the national security sector, with fingers quickly pointing toward Iran as the culprit, even though the Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility.
Washington has been sending a steady stream of military assets to the Kingdom over the past several months, as part of the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Tehran has responded by saying that any attack on its territory would be met with a disproportionate and devastating response against both US assets and allies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Tehran staunchly rejected the blame, and has recently rejected meditation by France alleging him of partiality and working for US interests. Iran has reiterated that it won’t negotiate a new agreement despite the US introducing even harsher restrictions against the country and beefing up its military presence in the Persian Gulf.
The Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei has said recalling that North Korea and Cuba never got the desired sanctions relief despite sitting behind the negotiating table with the Americans.
In May, Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which curbed Tehran’s military nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions. He has since then been pushing for a new broader deal, which will cover not only the nukes, but Iran’s ballistic missile developments as well.