ABU DHABI – The United Arab Emirates said on Monday it intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Iran – aligned Houthi movement as the UAE hosted Israeli President Isaac Herzog in his first official visit to the Gulf business and tourism hub.
Washington condemned the assault, the third on U.S. – allied UAE in the last two weeks, including a deadly hit on Abu Dhabi on Jan. 17. They mark an escalation of the Yemen war between the Houthis and a Saudi – led coalition, which includes the UAE.
A senior Emirati official described the attacks as ‘useless’ provocation that would be dealt with to safeguard national security and sovereignty. ‘Those who test the UAE are mistaken’, the official, Anwar Gargash, said on Twitter post.
The UAE defence ministry said the missile was intercepted 20 minutes past midnight and that its debris fell on uninhabited area. It did not say whether it was aimed at Abu Dhabi or Dubai.
It cames as Israel’s president was visiting Abu Dhabi where he discussed security and bilateral relations with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
‘While Israel’s president is visiting the UAE to build bridges and promote stability across the region, the Houthis continue to launch attacks that threaten civilians’, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a tweet.
Herzog, pressing on with his visit, was at the Expo 2020 world fair in Dubai on Monday.
He voiced hope in a speech that more countriesd would normalise relations with Israel as the UAE did when it, along with Bahrain, forged ties in 2020 under U.S. – Brokered pacts dubbed the ‘Abraham Accords’.
Israel shares Gulf Arab security concerns about Iran, including Tehran’s network of regional proxies. The Saudi – led coalition accuses Iran of supplying arms to the Houthis, a charge both the group and Tehran deny.
The Houthis said they would provide details of the operation against the UAE at 0800 GMT. The Group’s information minister said in a Twitter post that it was a ‘welcome for leadership of the Zionist entity’, referring to Herzog’s visit.
The Houthis, who have repeatedly carried out missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, have warned they will continue targeting the UAE unless it stopped ‘interfering’ in Yemen.
The UAE defence ministry said coalition warplanes destroyed missile launchers located in Yemen, where the Saudi – led alliance has battling the Houthis for nearly seven years in a conflict seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The coalition has also carried out deadly air strikes on Houthi – held areas in the past two week in the conflict, which has killed tons of thousands of people and pushed Yemen to brink of famine.