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For Israel, Houthi threat a whole new ballgame

Israel fears that Iran would encourage the Houthis in Yemen to attack the southern city of Eilat.
Israeli sailors stand on board the first of four new German-built Saar 6 naval vessels purchased by the navy, in the northern Haifa city naval base, on December 2, 2020. - Israel received the first of its new missile boats, with a top naval officer telling AFP the fleet upgrade "dramatically" improves the country's ability to counter regional rivals, including Iran. (Photo by Heidi levine / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HEIDI LEVINE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Reports Jan. 6 revealed that the Israeli military had deployed about a week earlier Iron Dome and Patriot air defense batteries around the southern city of Eilat and in other locations in the region. The reason for the deployment was apparently concerns of an attack from the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen. More specifically, Israel was afraid that Iran — via its proxies — would retaliate at Israeli targets on Jan. 3, the one-year anniversary of the killing by the United States of Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

The deployment of the two systems reveals the nature and extent of Israeli concerns. We are no longer talking about a geopolitical threat of Iran expanding its influence zone, but a much more concrete danger. The Iron Dome system is generally used against rockets, and has mostly been deployed against fire from the Gaza Strip. Still, experts explain that it can also intercept small drones and cruise missiles. As for the Patriot system, it can be used against ballistic missiles and larger aircraft like fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles.

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