In the wake of a missile attack launched during President Isaac Herzog’s landmark visit to Abu Dhabi, apparently by the Iran-backed Houthis, Israel is reportedly planning to advance the sale of missile defense systems to the United Arab Emirates.
Channel 13 news reported Monday that talks were underway for the sale of a number of weapons systems to the UAE, which would both warn of incoming fire and intercept it. Abu Dhabi is currently operating a South Korean missile defense system.
The report said the sale of the Iron Dome missile defense system to the UAE could mark the beginnings of a regional defense system that would help give Israel advance warning of any potential attack by Tehran.
However, according to Channel 12 news, a decision has not yet been made by Israel whether the Iron Dome system will be sold to the UAE or to Saudi Arabia. Israel has denied previous reports that it has already provided Riyadh with the defense system.
A ballistic missile was fired at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, apparently by the Houthis, an Iran-backed Yemen group. The missile was intercepted and the UAE’s defense ministry said there were no injuries or damage, with the remnants of the missile falling in unpopulated areas.
It was the third attack on the Emirates this month. Three foreign workers were killed in the first assault on January 17, while the second, a week later, was intercepted.
UAE MOD Joint Operations Command announces at 00:50 UAE time the destruction of platform for ballistic missile launched from Al-Jawf, Yemen towards UAE. Missile was intercepted at 00:20 by air defences. Video of successful destruction of missile platform and launch site pic.twitter.com/CY1AoAzfrp
— وزارة الدفاع |MOD UAE (@modgovae) January 30, 2022
While Israeli analysts are not said to believe the attack, using a relatively inaccurate missile, was directly targeting Herzog, a spokesman for the Houthis said it was meant to send a message from the Iran-backed group about ties between the UAE and Israel.
“Our attack proves that the UAE is not safe for as long as it continues to be in the service of the Zionist enemy in Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” the spokesman said, according to Channel 12 news.
The UAE is part of a Saudi-led military coalition that supports Yemen’s government against the Houthis. In 2019, the UAE withdrew its troops from Yemen, but it remains an influential player.
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.
The latest attack came after Herzog and his wife landed in Abu Dhabi on Sunday morning for the first-ever official visit by an Israeli president to the United Arab Emirates.
Israel and the UAE forged ties in the United States-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020, bringing over a decade of covert contacts into the open, and have seen their relationship flourish since then.
Lazar Berman and agencies contributed to this report.