JERUSALEM – Israel’s military said an organization in Syria launched a drone that hit a school in the southern Israeli city of Eilat on Thursday and that it struck the group in response.
The military did not say what organization in Syria had launched the drone toward Eilat, on the Red Sea approximately 400 kms (250 miles) from the nearest point in Syrian territory.
But it said in a statement it holds Syria’s government fully responsible “for any terror activity emanating from its territory.” There were no reports of injuries from the drone strike, which caused light damage.
The drone incident adds to a spate of attacks directed from the region since the Oct. 7 outbreak of Israeli fighting with Gaza’s Hamas militants.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement has launched repeated missile and drone attacks on Israel since Oct. 7, all of which were either shot down or fell short.
On Thursday, the Houthis, which govern swathes of Yemen including the capital Sanaa, said they fired ballistic missiles at various Israeli targets including what the group’s military spokesperson described as military targets in Eilat.
Israel’s military said its “Arrow” air defense system intercepted a missile launched at Israeli territory near the Red Sea, and that its Patriot defense system had intercepted a “suspicious target” in the southern Negev desert.
Israel’s military did not attribute blame for the missile launch or the target intercepted in the Negev.
Israel has boosted its naval presence in the Red Sea to better protect its southern shores, while the United States also has a significant amount of naval power in the region.
Eilat is the Israel’s main commercial gateway through the Red Sea.
Daniel Mueller, analyst with British maritime security company Ambrey, said Thursday’s drone hit “would be the first confirmed damage within the city of Eilat since the October 7 hostilities commenced.”
Hamas and the Houthis “have fired multiple rockets, cruise missiles and UAVs towards Eilat,” Mueller added.
Israeli waters are considered a high risk zone by marine insurers and every ship is required to pay an additional war risk premium, which is typically renewed every seven days.
Such premiums have soared 10-fold in recent weeks, adding tens of thousands of dollars to every voyage, industry sources say. And this means higher freight costs.
The southern Mediterranean port of Ashkelon, which is closest to Gaza, has closed in recent weeks with at least one oil tanker diverted to Eilat.
Ambrey has advised clients that merchant shipping can still call at Ashkelon port, as shipping is doing in Ashdod, but to adopt ballistic protection measures. These can include hardware, but also procedures such as minimizing crew deck movements. – Reuters