RIYADH: The United Arab Emirates on Monday said it had intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Yemen's Houthi militia amid a visit by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog.
The attack did not result in any losses as the destroyed missile fell outside populated areas, the UAE's Ministry of Defense said in a statement carried by Emirates News Agency.
UAE air forces, together with the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, subsequently destroyed the missile launch site in Yemen's Al-Jawf governorate, the statement said.
The UAE defense ministry affirmed its “full readiness to deal with any threats,” adding that it will “take all necessary measures to protect the UAE from any attacks.”
The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority on Monday assured the public that the latest Houthi atrocity has not affected air traffic in the region's busiest air corridor.
“The air traffic in the country is going as usual, and operations of all flights are running normally. There is no impact on flights and airports as a result of the ballistic missile launched by the terrorist Houthi militia,” the authority said.
The Houthi attack came hours after Israel’s President Herzog arrived in Abu Dhabi to seek stronger regional ties.
The UAE, along with Bahrain, signed US-brokered normalization agreements with Israel, dubbed the “Abraham Accords,” in 2020. The two Gulf states and Israel share concerns about Iran and its allied forces in the region.
Herzog discussed security and bilateral relations with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Herzog spent the night in Abu Dhabi, and will continue his UAE visit despite the Houthi attack, his office said. He was scheduled to visit Dubai’s Expo 2020 on Monday.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in December made his first official visit to the UAE and discussed strengthening relations on a number of fronts with Sheikh Mohammed.
The missile attack happened just after a Houthi military spokesman Yehia Sarei boasted on Twitter that the terror group would disclose within hours details of a new military operation deep inside the UAE.
On January 17, a drone-and-missile attack by the Iran-backed terror militia hit an Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. fuel depot, killing three people and wounding six others. A second missile assault on Monday was foiled.
The missile attacks targeting the UAE come as the Houthis face pressure and are suffering heavy losses on the battlefield. Aided by the Emirati-backed Giants Brigades, Yemeni government forces took back the province of Shabwa earlier this month in a blow to Houthi efforts to complete their control of the entire northern half of Yemen.
While Emirati troops have been killed over the course of the conflict, until this month the war hadn't directly affected daily life in the wider UAE, a country with a vast foreign workforce.
(With AP & Reuters)