IDF deploys air defenses near Eilat, fears attack by Iran-backed fighters in Yemen

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The Israeli military has deployed Patriot air defense batteries near the southern city of Eilat in recent days amid concerns of attack from an Iran-backed militia in Yemen.

The move comes as the region marks a year since the United States killed Qassem Soleimani, the influential head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ expeditionary Quds Force, and a month and a half after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the head of Iran’s military nuclear program, was killed, allegedly by Israel.

Iran has indicated that it plans to exact revenge for these killings. The Israeli military assessed that such a retaliation was likely to come from an Iranian proxy, potentially from Yemen’s Houthis, a group that has conducted a number of attacks on Tehran’s other rival in the region, Saudi Arabia.

In light of this threat, the Patriot batteries have been deployed near Israel’s southern tip of Eilat. This air defense system is used primarily to defend against ballistic missiles and aircraft.