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Bennett speaks with Abu Dhabi crown prince following deadly Houthi attack

PM affirms support, expresses condolences; UAE news agency says he stressed ‘need to confront terrorist forces that threaten stability and peace in the region’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) sits down with UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the latter's Abu Dhabi palace, on December 13, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) sits down with UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the latter's Abu Dhabi palace, on December 13, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke Thursday with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan following a deadly attack on the United Arab Emirates by Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

According to Bennett’s office, the prime minister expressed his condolences over the missile and drone attack launched by the Houthis, which killed three people.

“The prime minister also expressed the State of Israel’s support for the United Arab Emirates in this complicated time,” a statement from the premier’s office said, adding that the two agreed to stay in touch.

“The Israeli Prime Minister affirmed his country’s support for all that the UAE is doing to defend its security against these attacks, stressing the need to confront terrorist forces that threaten stability and peace in the region,” the UAE’s official WAM news agency said.

Bennett on Tuesday offered Israel’s “security and intelligence support” to the UAE following the attack.

And speaking to top military brass on Thursday, Bennett said Israel’s main mission is to hit the Iranian regime and its proxies, in an apparent reference to Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups backed by Tehran.

In this satellite image provided by Planet Labs PBC, smoke rises over an Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. fuel depot in the Mussafah neighborhood of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on January 17, 2022. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led military coalition that supports Yemen’s government against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have repeatedly targeted Saudi Arabia with cross-border strikes.

After the attack, the coalition launched fresh strikes “targeting Houthi camps and headquarters” in Sanaa, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV tweeted. The strikes killed 11 people in Yemen’s rebel-held capital Sanaa, witnesses said.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said that they had “carried out… a successful military operation” against “important and sensitive Emirati sites and installations” using both ballistic missiles and drones.

The incident follows a surge in fighting in Yemen including advances by UAE-trained troops. The rebels also seized a UAE-flagged ship and its international crew earlier this month.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation all condemned the “terrorist” attack. Eight Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia were also intercepted, the coalition said.

The rebels have previously threatened to target Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the gleaming crown jewels of the UAE which last year opened its first nuclear power plant.

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