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- Israel deploys missile boats in the Red Sea
- At least 34 Australians named to evacuate from Gaza
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Who are the Houthis? Yemen-based militants join the Israel-Hamas conflict
The Yemen-based Houthi movement has joined the Israel-Hamas war, extending the conflict to the far side of the Middle East.
In firing missiles on Israel, it has joined other Iran-backed militant groups including Hezbollah, which has been exchanging fire with Israeli forces across the Lebanon border.
While not the officially recognised government of Yemen, the Houthi movement controls a significant portion of the country and its involvement goes against the West’s efforts to prevent the fighting from spreading.
Where is Yemen? The Middle East nation lies at the southernmost point of the Arabian Peninsula and shares a border with Saudi Arabia to its north and Oman to its east. Its coastline is on the southern end of the Red Sea (the Suez Canal is at the northern end) and represents a strategic choke point for world shipping and, crucially, Saudi oil.
Has Yemen declared war on Israel? The Houthi movement, which controls Yemen’s west, says it launched ballistic and cruise missiles on southern Israel on Wednesday (AEDT). The Israel Defence Forces said it intercepted at least one missile originating from near the Red Sea, along with other “aerial threats”. Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said it was behind two earlier incidents, a drone attack on October 18 and three cruise missiles intercepted by the US Navy on October 19.
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Israel deploys missile boats in the Red Sea
Israel has deployed missile boats in the Red Sea as reinforcements, the military said in a statement, following long-range missile and drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthis.
Images disseminated by the military appeared to show Saar-class corvettes patrolling near Eilat port in the Red Sea, which Israel sees as a new front as its war in Gaza draws retaliation from Iran-aligned pro-Hamas forces elsewhere in the region.
The Israeli military said it shot down what appeared to be a drone near the southernmost city of Eilat and intercepted a missile over the Red Sea on Tuesday, neither of which entered Israeli airspace.
Yemen’s Houthis waded into the Israel-Hamas war raging more than 1600 km miles from their seat of power in Sanaa, declaring on Tuesday they had fired drones and missiles at Israel in attacks that highlight the regional risks of the conflict.
Part of an “Axis of Resistance” backed by Iran, the Houthis have rallied behind the Palestinians since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, opening a new front for a movement that has waged war for eight years with a Saudi-led coalition in the Gulf.
Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said in a televised statement the group had launched a “large number” of ballistic missiles and drones towards Israel, and there would be more such attacks to come “to help the Palestinians to victory”.
New reports of Gaza internet blackout
Palestinians have reported another widespread outage of internet and phone services in Gaza on Wednesday, hours after Israeli airstrikes levelled apartment buildings near Gaza City and as group troops battled Hamas militants inside the besieged territory.
The Palestinian telecoms company Paltel reported a “complete disruption” of internet and mobile phone services in Gaza, marking the second time in five days that residents were largely cut off from the world. Communications also went down over the weekend, as Israeli troops pushed into Gaza in larger numbers.
Smoke rises from the Israeli bombardment of Gaza City on Monday.Credit: AP
Humanitarian aid agencies have warned that such blackouts severely disrupt their work in an already dire situation in Gaza, where more than half of the population of 2.3 million Palestinians has been displaced and basic supplies are running low more than three weeks into the war triggered by Hamas’ bloody October 7 rampage into southern Israel.
Attempts to reach Gaza residents by phone were unsuccessful early on Wednesday. Internet-access advocacy group NetBlocks.org confirmed that Gaza “is in the midst of a total or near-total telecoms blackout consistent with” the weekend blackout.
At least 34 Australians named to evacuate from Gaza
The first group of foreign passport holders in a limited group have reached the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing by Wednesday evening (Gaza time) and it is not known how many Australians, if any, were among the first to cross.
A spreadsheet listing the personal details of up to 500 foreign nationals was published online by the Palestinian authority responsible for border crossings, which included 34 Australians.
Palestinian ambulances arrive at the border crossing.Credit: AP
The foreign nationals have apparently been given the green light to escape Gaza because a Qatar-mediated deal was published online by the Palestinian authority responsible for border crossings.
A source told Reuters three buses carrying 160 foreign passport holders had earlier set off from Gaza to make the Rafah crossing to Egypt.
The deal between Egypt, Israel and Hamas to allow wounded and foreign nationals to cross the border was mediated by the Gulf state of Qatar, which maintains ties with Israel and Hamas. It marks the first time any evacuees have escaped Gaza since the war began.
Hello and welcome to our blog bringing you the latest developments on the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Here’s an overview of what you need to know:
- At least 34 Australians are named as the foreign nationals approved to enter Egypt via the Rafah crossing, believed to be almost half of the 88 who have been trapped in the enclave under heavy bombardment since October 7.
- A spreadsheet listing the personal details of up to 500 foreign nationals (including the 34 Australians) apparently given the green light to escape Gaza under a Qatar-mediated deal was published online by the Palestinian authority responsible for border crossings.
- Israel has deployed missile boats in the Red Sea as reinforcements, the military said in a statement, following long-range missile and drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthis. Images disseminated by the military appeared to show Saar-class corvettes patrolling near Eilat port in the Red Sea, which Israel sees as a new front as its war in Gaza draws retaliation from Iran-aligned pro-Hamas forces elsewhere in the region.
- Palestinians have reported another widespread outage of internet and phone services in Gaza on Wednesday, hours after Israeli airstrikes levelled apartment buildings near Gaza City as ground troops battled Hamas militants inside the besieged territory.
Palestinians cross to the Egyptian side of the border crossing with the Gaza Strip in Rafah.Credit: AP
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