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Israel says it intercepted a missile, likely fired by Yemen’s Houthi terrorists

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said late Friday its Arrow missile defense system intercepted a missile that approached the country from the Red Sea, raising suspicion it was launched by Yemen’s Houthi terrorists.

The Iran-backed terrorists did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack but have launched barrages of missiles towards southern Israel since the Gaza war erupted on Oct. 7. Virtually all the projectiles bound for Israel have been intercepted.

The Israeli military said it was the fifth time during the war that it has deployed the Arrow — a system developed with the U.S. to intercept long-range missiles.

The Houthis, a Shiite terrorist group who control most of northern Yemen, began targeting commercial shipping in the Red Sea and The Gulf of Aden starting in November, and the attacks are ongoing.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken this weekend will make his fifth urgent trip to the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza erupted in October in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on southern Israel.

The State Department says Blinken will depart Washington on Sunday and travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank for talks with regional leaders that will last for most of next week.

Blinken “will continue diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement that secures the release of all remaining hostages and includes a humanitarian pause that will allow for sustained, increased delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza,” department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement on Friday.

“He will continue work to prevent the spread of the conflict, while reaffirming that the United States will take appropriate steps to defend its personnel and the right to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea,” Miller said. “The secretary will also continue discussions with partners on how to establish a more integrated, peaceful region that includes lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is warning that a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is putting “sensitive negotiations” for a prolonged humanitarian pause and release of all Israeli hostages “in jeopardy.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield told U.N. reporters on Friday that the U.S. is working “on a strong, compelling proposal” to release the Israeli hostages and get desperately needed humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. She said the U.S., which is Israel’s closest ally, has been working with Qatar, the go-to mediator in the Mideast war, as well as Egypt and regional partners.

“If accepted and implemented, this proposal would move all parties one step closer to creating the conditions for sustainable cessation of hostilities,” she said.

Algeria, the Arab representative on the council, circulated the draft resolution to the Security Council’s 15 members on Wednesday. It does not mention the hostages.

Instead, it demands that all parties comply with international law, calls for unhindered access for humanitarian aid, and “rejects the forced displacement of the Palestinian civilian population.”

The U.S. ambassador said the Security Council has an obligation “to ensure that any action we take in the coming days increases pressure on Hamas to accept the proposal.”

Thomas-Greenfield said the Algerian draft resolution, however, puts the negotiations involving the U.S., Qatar and others “in jeopardy, derailing the exhaustive, ongoing diplomatic efforts to secure the release of hostages and secure an extended pause that Palestinian civilians and aid workers so desperately need.”

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