Inside the Yemen Houthi group after they claimed attacks on Israel

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Yemen Houthi rebels have claimed to have launched ballistic missile attacks on Israel as the conflict involving Hamas and Israeli forces intensifies.

Two instances of missiles and drones from Yemen have been recorded since fighting began, with the US military intercepting three cruise missiles on October 19, and a drone attack that resulted in blasts near the Israel border in Egypt on October 28.

On October 31, a senior Houthi official told the AFP news agency that the Iran-backed Yemeni group had sent drones towards southern Israel.

“These drones belong to the state of Yemen,” Abdelaziz bin Habtour, prime minister of the Houthi government, said.

Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said in a televised statement: “The Yemeni Armed Forces confirm that this operation is the third operation in support of our oppressed brothers in Palestine and confirm that we will continue to carry out more qualitative strikes with missiles and drones until the Israeli aggression stops.”

On Tuesday Israel used its Arrow missile defence system for the first time to intercept an “aerial threat” over the Red Sea, believed to have been a ballistic missile.

Images released by the Israeli military showed Sa’ar-class corvettes patrolling near Eilat port in the Red Sea, an area that could become a new front if the war expands further out from Israel and Palestine.

Speculation that the conflict could continue to overspill into neighbouring countries is now a real possibility, with Houthi military spokesperson saying there would be more attacks “”to help the Palestinians to victory”.

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Who are the Houthi Rebels?

The Houthis follow the Shiite Zaydi faith, a branch of Shiite Islam that is almost exclusively found in Yemen.

According to ABC News, the rebels’ slogan has long been: “God is the greatest; death to America; death to Israel; curse the Jews; victory to Islam.”

They have held Yemen’s capital Sanaa since 2014 as part of the ongoing civil war taking place there, which began in 2011.

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Part of an “Axis of Resistance” believed to be backed by Iran, the Houthis have rallied behind the Palestinians when Hamas initially attacked Israel on October 7.

The group has previously claimed it develops its own weapons and it not backed by Iran or any other international group or government.

The group began regular attacks on Saudi Arabia after it intervened in the civil war in 2015.

Iran has consistently denied any relationship with the Houthi rebels, however Tehran has allegedly long sponsored both the Houthis and Hamas, as well as the Lebanese Shiite militia group Hezbollah, which has also exchanged fire with Israeli forces since the war broke out in October.

US troops have also been targeted in drone attacks on bases in Iraq and Syria claimed by Iranian-allied militia groups over recent weeks.

While direct strikes on Israel from Yemen have not been reported, the group claims to be in possession of a liquid-propellant missile known as Toufan that could have a 1,350–1,950 km (839-1212 mile) range, enough to potentially put Israel within striking distance depending on where it was launched from.

Yemen and Israel, separated by Saudi Arabia, are about 1,580km apart at their nearest points.

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