The Iran-backed Houthi rebels vowed Sunday that a wave of joint U.S.-British retaliatory airstrikes “will not pass without response and punishment” as the Israeli-Hamas war teetered on the brink of a far broader and more deadly regional conflict.
“These attacks will not deter us from our moral, religious and humanitarian stance in support of the steadfast Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip,” Houthis spokesman Ameen Hayyan said in a statement.
U.S. and British forces struck 36 rebel targets in Yemen on Saturday, one day after targeting 85 sites linked to other Iran-backed militant groups in Syria and Iraq. The airstrikes Friday were in response to months of attacks on U.S. bases, including a drone strike on a U.S. base in Jordan near the Syrian border that killed three Americans.
The Houthis were targeted in response to scores of strikes on commercial ships in the Red Sea area since November. It was the third time that British and American forces have jointly targeted the Houthis, who say their attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians in war-battered Gaza, which has been bombarded since the Oct. 7 Hamas assault on Israeli border communities.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the latest U.S.-British response was “intended to degrade Houthi capabilities used to continue their reckless and unlawful attacks.”
US strikes Iran-backed groups:New sites in Yemen targeted
∎ The Palestinian death toll has risen to 27,365, and the majority of the victims are women and children, the Ministry of Health in Gaza announced Sunday. More than 66,000 people were wounded and about 8,000 remain unaccounted for, the ministry said.
∎ Iran warned the U.S. not to target two cargo ships suspected of serving as an operating base for Iranian commandos. The Behshad and Saviz are registered as commercial ships with a Tehran-based company the U.S. Treasury has sanctioned for aiding Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard
∎ Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that at least two children were killed in an Israeli attack on kindergarten in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of using schools and other public spaces as cover and civilians as human shields.
Trump says he could stop deadly attacks on U.S. bases
The attack by Iran-backed militants on a U.S. base in Jordan that killed three American soldiers a week ago would not have happened if Donald Trump was president, the GOP presidential hopeful said Sunday.
“I had Iran in check,” Trump said on Sunday Morning Futures. He related a story from his presidency when he said the U.S. “hit them very hard” for something Iran did. Iran was compelled to hit back, Trump said.
“They feel they have to do that and I understand that,” Trump said. “They called me to tell me ‘we’re going to hit a certain location, but we’re not gonna hit it, it’s gonna be outside of the perimeter.’ So they aimed those missiles and they said, ‘please don’t attack us, we’re not going to hit you.’ That was respect, we had respect.”
Trump was apparently referring to the Iranian strike at an air base in Iraq housing U.S. troops. The January 2020 attack was in retaliation for the U.S. assassination of an Iranian general. The Pentagon, however, has said that multiple Iranian missiles hit the base that day. Scores of U.S. soldiers suffered traumatic brain injuries.
The lethal drone attack a week ago near the Syrian border was third attack in six months targeting the base known as Tower 22. The three U.S. deaths were the first from enemy fire in the region since the war began almost three months ago. Iran denied involvement in the attack, saying militants in the region do not take orders from Tehran
Israel raids outpost where Hamas trained for Oct. 7 attack
An Israeli raid in southern Gaza uncovered headquarters for the Khan Yunes Brigade that included the office of Mohammed Sinwar, the brother of Hamas political leader Yahya Sinwar, the Israeli military said in a statement. The Alqadsia outpost was used to train militants who carried out the stunning Oct. 7 attack on border Israeli communities, the statement said. The attackers killed more than 1,200 people and took about 240 hostages, more than 100 of whom remain captives in Gaza.
The outpost included models simulating the entrance gates of kibbutzim and other areas that were raided. Militants defending the outpost were “eliminated” by sniper fire, tank shell fire and air force strikes, the statement said.
Hamas leaders need more time to study the proposed framework for a cease-fire, but there is “no deal yet,” a senior Hamas official said. Osama Hamdan said Hamas is reviewing the framework hammered out by Qatar, Egypt and the U.S. But Hamdan said his militant organization has not backed down from demands that include the Israeli military’s withdrawal from Gaza, lifting of the blockade imposed on the enclave, rebuilding the war-battered cities and towns, providing humanitarian aid, a prisoner-for-hostage deal and a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Several of those demands have been repeatedly rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hamdan, at a briefing in Lebanon, credited Egypt and Qatar for attempting to broker a deal but blamed Israel’s “obstinacy” for the apparent failure to reach an agreement.
“We value the efforts made by the brothers in Egypt and Qatar in order to reach a sustainable cease-fire agreement in Gaza,” Hamdan said.
The Biden administration is hindering Israel’s war effort and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump would provide Tel Aviv the freedom to crush Hamas, Israel’s national security minister says. Itamar Ben-Gvir, who leads a far-right political party crucial to Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, has repeatedly chastised Netanyahu in recent weeks for being too willing to cut a deal with Hamas to free more than 100 hostages. Ben-Gvir also has sharp worlds for President Joe Biden, despite his firm support for Israel in the face of global discontent at the withering destruction and death fueled by Israel’s invasion.
“Instead of giving us his full backing, Biden is busy with giving humanitarian aid and fuel (to Gaza), which goes to Hamas,” Ben-Gvir told the Wall Street Journal. “If Trump was in power, the U.S. conduct would be completely different.”
Iran condemns U.S.-British airstrikes
Iran also condemned the U.S.-British airstrikes − which took place with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand − as as breach of Yemen’s territorial integrity and of international law. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani urged the global community to hold the nations involved accountable.
“The United States and Britain’s military adventurism marked by their military strikes on the regional countries is a follow-up to these two countries’ wrong approach and policy of resorting to militarism to advance their illegitimate objectives in the region,” Kanaani said, adding that the strikes were “in stark contrast to Washington and London repeatedly claiming that they wouldn’t like to see war and conflict spread in the region.”
Contributing: The Associated Press