Houthi involvement in the 2023 Israel–Hamas war

Houthi involvement in the 2023 Israel–Hamas war

In the midst of the 2023 conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Houthi movement in Yemen, aligned with Hamas, launched attacks targeting Israel. They employed missiles and Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), some of which were subsequently intercepted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) over the Red Sea using the Arrow missile defense system; others fell short of their targets or were intercepted by the United States Navy and the Israeli Air Force.


The Houthi movement is a Shiite militant organization that controls northern Yemen and is supported and funded by Iran,[1] and reportedly serves as their proxy in regional wars.[2] The movement’s slogan is “Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory to Islam.”[3]

After the outbreak of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, militant groups across the Middle East, including the Houthis, expressed support for the Palestinians and threatened to attack Israel. Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi warned the United States against intervening, threatening retaliation with drones and missiles.[4]

Types of weapons used by the Houthis

Houthi weapons come mainly from Iran.[2] They are known to use surface-to-surface missiles, artillery rockets and UAVs.[5] They have several missiles and UAVs capable of reaching Israel from Yemen:

  • Toufan – a Surface-to-surface missile, with a range of 1,800 km.[6]
  • Cruise missiles – from the Iranian Soumar family, with strike ranges of about 2,000 km.[6]
  • Quds-2 missile – supposedly with a range of 1,350 km but made to strike Israel.[7]
  • 3-Samad and 4-Samad – attack UAVs with ranges of 1,800+ km.[7]
  • Wa’id drones – similar to Iran’s Shahed 136, attack UAV with a range of 2,500 km.[7]


On 19 October 2023, U.S. officials said the Navy warship USS Carney shot down three land-attack cruise missiles and several drones heading toward Israel launched by the Houthis in Yemen. This was the first action by the U.S. military to defend Israel since the outbreak of the war.[4] It was later reported that the ship shot down four cruise missiles and 15 drones.[8] Another missile was reportedly intercepted by Saudi Arabia.[9]

On 27 October 2023, two drones were fired in a northerly direction from the southern Red Sea. According to IDF officials, their target was Israel, but they did not cross the border from Egypt. Of the two drones, one fell short and hit a building adjacent to a hospital in Taba, Egypt, injuring six; the other was shot down near an electricity plant close to the town of Nuweiba, Egypt.[10][11][12] A Houthi official later made a one-word post on Twitter after the drone crashed in Taba, mentioning the nearby Israeli town of Eilat.[13]

On 31 October, an alert was triggered in Eilat, Eilot and the Shahorit industrial park area regarding the penetration of hostile aircraft from the Red Sea. The aircraft was successfully intercepted over the Red Sea. The Arrow system intercepted a ballistic missile and the Air Force intercepted several cruise missiles fired from the Red Sea towards Eilat. The Houthis took responsibility for the launches.[14] One cruise missile was shot down by an F-35i Adir jet.[15] The downing of the missile by the Arrow marks the first time it has been used in the Israel–Hamas war.[16] According to Israeli officials, the interception occurred above Earth’s atmosphere above the Negev Desert, making it the first instance of space warfare in history.[17]

On 1 November at 0:45, the IDF intercepted an air threat fired from Yemen and identified south of Eilat.[18]

A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down off the coast of Yemen by Houthi air defences on 8 November; the Pentagon previously claimed MQ-9 drones were flying over Gaza in an intelligence gathering role to aid in the hostage recovery efforts.[19]

On 9 November, the Houthis fired a missile towards the city of Eilat.[20] The missile was intercepted by an “Arrow 3” missile, marking the first time it was used in an interception.[21]

On 14 November, the Houthis fired numerous missiles, one of which was aimed towards the city of Eilat. The missile was intercepted by an Arrow missile according to Israeli officials.[22]

The following day, US officials claimed that USS Thomas Hudner shot down a drone that was headed towards it.[23]

On 19 November, the Galaxy Leader was hijacked by the Houthis, with 25 individuals onboard.[24] The empty car transporter on route to India was boarded using a Mil Mi-17 helicopter.[25] The incident followed a statement by Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarea on the group’s Telegram channel, declaring their intention to target ships owned, operated by Israeli companies, or carrying the Israeli flag.[26] According to the ship’s owner, the vessel was then moved to the Yemeni port of Hodeidah.[27]

Sarea also urged countries to remove their citizens from crews of such ships. Earlier, Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi had threatened further attacks against Israeli interests, including potential targets in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. His speech emphasized the group’s capability to monitor and target Israeli ships in these regions.[28]

On 22 November, the Houthis fired a cruise missile aimed towards the city of Eilat. Israeli officials said the missile was successfully shot down by an F-35.[29]

On 23 November 2023, US officials claimed the USS Thomas Hudner shot down drones launched from Yemen.[30]

On 24 November 2023, a container ship was attacked by the Houthis in the Indian Ocean.[31] A drone was shot down over the Red Sea by IDF fighter jet.[32]

On 25 November 2023, suspected Houthi fighters seized a freighter that was “Israeli-owned, Malta-flagged” while it was in transit across the Red Sea.[33]

On 26 November 2023, the Liberian-flagged ship Central Park managed by Zodiac Maritime was seized off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden. It carried a full cargo of phosphoric acid with 22 crew members consisting of Russian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Indian, Georgian and Filipino nationals.[34] The USS Mason facilitated the release of the tanker and captured the hijackers the ship following their attempted escape. The following day, “ballistic missiles” were fired towards the ship from Houthi territory in Yemen and ended up in the Gulf of Aden. The crew of the ship was unharmed.[35] According to a later report from a Pentagon spokesman, the hijackers were Somalis.[36]

On 29 November 2023, US officials claimed the American destroyer USS Carney shot down a Houthi KAS-04 drone as the destroyer approached the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.[37]

On 30 November, Saudi media reported that an Israeli airstrike caused an explosion at a Houthi arms depot in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Houthi officials denied the report, stating that a gas station was hit instead. A member of the Houthi’s political bureau, Hezam al-Asad, said that the explosion was caused by the remnants of a bomb left over from the Yemeni civil war.[38]

On 3 December 2023, the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer of the United States Navy, reportedly shot down two attack drones launched from Yemen that were approaching the ship. After shooting down the drones, the ship responded to a distress call by commercial ships in the area which were under attack by ballistic missiles launched from Yemen. The incident lasted five hours.[39][40]

The Houthi movement claimed responsibility for the attacks. Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree stated that one merchant vessel was hit by a missile and another by a drone while in the Bab el-Mandeb strait, without mentioning a warship.[39] A Pentagon source said that the attacks on Carney caused no injuries or damage.[41]


  1. ^ Bayoumy, Yara; Ghobari, Mohammed (15 December 2014). “Iranian support seen crucial for Yemen’s Houthis”. Reuters. Retrieved 3 November 2023.
  2. Jump up to:a b “Iran warns proxy groups like the Houthis could expand operations against Israel”. The Times of Israel. 1 November 2023. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  3. ^ Fabian, Emanuel (31 October 2023). “In first, Arrow downs Eilat-bound missile from ‘Red Sea area’; Houthis claim attack”. The Times of Israel. Retrieved 3 November 2023.
  4. Jump up to:a b Copp, Tara; Baldor, Lolita (19 October 2023). “US military shoots down missiles and drones as it faces growing threats in volatile Middle East”. Associated Press. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  5. ^ “Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim to launch major drone attack on Israel”. The Times of Israel. 1 November 2023. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  6. Jump up to:a b “Interview: Inside the Houthi arsenal that can reach Israel”. Amwaj.media. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  7. Jump up to:a b c Jalal, Ibrahim. “The Houthis’ Red Sea missile and drone attack: Drivers and implications”. Middle East Institute. Retrieved 3 November 2023.
  8. ^ Liebermann, Oren (20 October 2023). “Incident involving US warship intercepting missiles near Yemen lasted 9 hours”. CNN. Retrieved 30 October 2023.
  9. ^ “IntelBrief: Houthi Involvement in Mideast War Hinders Prospects for a Yemen Settlement”. The Soufan Center. 8 November 2023. Retrieved 10 November 2023.
  10. ^ Hassan, Ahmed Mohamed; Williams, Dan (27 October 2023). “Drone blasts hit two Egyptian Red Sea towns, Israel points to Houthi”. Reuters. Retrieved 28 October 2023.
  11. ^ “Blasts hit two Egyptian Red Sea towns near Israel border, six injured”. Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 28 October 2023.
  12. ^ Fabian, Emanuel (27 October 2023). “Missile that hit Egypt likely came from Yemen, IDF indicates; 2nd Sinai impact reported”. The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  13. ^ “Yemen’s Houthi rebels appear to threaten Israel: ‘Eilat'”. The Times of Israel. 28 October 2023. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  14. ^ Nereim, Vivian; Al-Batati, Saeed (31 October 2023). “Yemen’s Houthi militia claims to have launched an attack on Israel”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  15. ^ Malyasov, Dylan (2 November 2023). “Israel shoots down Houthi cruise missiles using F-35i Adir fighter jets”. Defence Blog. Retrieved 3 November 2023.
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  17. ^ Barber, Harriet (4 November 2023). “How Israel shot down a ballistic missile in space for the first time”. The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  18. ^ “Houthis Claim Responsibility for Attack on Israel”. Asharq Al-Awsat. 1 November 2023. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  19. ^ Watson, Eleanor (8 November 2023). “U.S. MQ-9 Drone shot down off the coast of Yemen”. CBS News. Retrieved 8 November 2023.
  20. ^ “Israel strikes Syria after drone hits southern Eilat city – Israeli military”. Reuters. 9 November 2023. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  21. ^ Fabian, Emanuel (9 November 2023). “Israel’s Arrow 3 has made its 1st-ever interception, downing likely Yemen-fired missile”. The Times of Israel. Retrieved 9 November 2023.
  22. ^ “Yemen’s Houthis say they fired ballistic missiles towards Israel”. Al Jazeera English. 14 November 2023. Retrieved 15 November 2023.
  23. ^ Watson, Eleanor; Martin, David (15 November 2023). “U.S. Navy warship shoots down drone fired from Yemen”. CBS News. Retrieved 15 November 2023.
  24. ^ “Japan condemns Yemen’s Houthi rebels hijack of cargo ship in Red Sea”. BBC News. 20 November 2023. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  25. ^ Gambrell, Jon (22 November 2023). “Yemen rebels’ helicopter-borne attack on ship raises risks in Red Sea”. Associated Press. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  26. ^ “Yemen’s Houthis say will target all ships owned, operated by Israeli companies”. Al Arabiya English. 19 November 2023. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  27. ^ “Seized Galaxy Leader ship in Yemen’s Hodeidah port area -owner”. Reuters. 20 November 2023. Retrieved 21 November 2023.
  28. ^ “Yemen’s Houthis hijack Israeli-linked ship in Red Sea, take 25 crew members hostage”. Al Arabiya English. 19 November 2023. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  29. ^ Fabian, Emanuel (22 November 2023). “IDF says it shot down cruise missile — apparently fired by Houthis — over Red Sea”. The Times of Israel. Retrieved 22 November 2023.
  30. ^ Irwin, Lauren (23 November 2023). “US warship shoots down multiple ‘attack drones’ in Red Sea”. The Hill. Retrieved 23 November 2023.
  31. ^ Gambrell, Jon (25 November 2023). “An Israeli-owned ship was targeted in suspected Iranian attack in Indian Ocean, US official tells AP”. Associated Press. Retrieved 25 November 2023.
  32. ^ Fabian, Emanuel (25 November 2023). “IDF says it shot down a drone over Red Sea heading toward Eilat”. The Times of Israel. Retrieved 25 November 2023.
  33. ^ Parry, Andie; Moore, Johanna; Ganzeveld, Annika; Carl, Nicholas (25 November 2023). “IRAN UPDATE, NOVEMBER 25, 2023”. Institute for the Study of War. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  34. ^ Gambrell, Jon. “Israeli-linked oil tanker seized off the coast of Aden, Yemen, intelligence firm says”. Associated Press. Retrieved 26 November 2023.
  35. ^ Gambrell, Jon (26 November 2023). “US Navy seizes attackers who held Israel-linked tanker. Missiles from rebel-controlled Yemen follow”. Associated Press. Retrieved 26 November 2023.
  36. ^ Seligman, Lara (27 November 2023). “Pentagon: Suspected Somali pirates behind cargo ship attack in the Middle East”. Politico. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
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  38. ^ “Israeli strike behind blast at Houthi weapons depot in Yemen’s capital — report”. The Times of Israel. 1 December 2023. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
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  40. ^ Gambrell, Jon (3 December 2023). “Pentagon says a US warship, commercial ships attacked in Red Sea. Houthis claim attacking 2 ships”. The Washington Post. Associated Press (AP). Archived from the original on 3 December 2023. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
  41. ^ Cooper, Helene (3 December 2023). “U.S. Navy Destroyer Is Attacked in Red Sea, Pentagon Says”. The New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
  42. ^ Moloney, Charlie; Fulton, Adam (28 October 2023). “Israel-Hamas war live: Israel says 150 ‘underground targets’ hit in Gaza during heaviest bombing of the war so far”. The Guardian. Retrieved 28 October 2023.

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