Drone Launched From Iraq Slams Into Israeli Base For First Time Of War

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Apr 01, 2024 - 03:20 PM

In a significant first of the Gaza war marking a very serious escalation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have confirmed that a drone which slammed into a naval base in Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat early Monday morning was launched from Iraq.

The IDF its statement said it identified a "suspicious aerial target" that breached Israeli airspace "from the east" before making impact "in the Eilat Bay area" on the Red Sea. While this isn't necessarily the first instance of Iraqi militant groups claiming to have fired on Eliat, it appears to be the first time that direct impact was made on an Israeli navy base and that the IDF has confirmed it.

The port of Eilat. Image via Israel Hayom

The military statement described that the attack resulted in damage to hangar at Eilat naval base but there were no casualties. While air raid warning sirens were triggered, regional reports indicate that anti-air defenses were not active.

Reuters at the same time picked up on a claim of responsibility from a prominent Iran-backed Shia militia in Iraq:

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a militia, said in a statement that it had attacked a "vital objective" in Israel "using appropriate weapons". It did not offer further details.

Eilat has come under repeated missile and drone attack from the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen during Israel's almost six-month-old war against Hamas in Gaza. In November, Israel said a group in Syria had launched a drone that hit the port city.

Israeli media too is taking the statement as confirmation that the drone was launched from Iraq. The Times of Israel wrote: "The reference to the projectile’s origin being to the east appeared to confirm a claim by the Islamic Resistance of Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed paramilitary groups, that it had fired on Israel."

While projectiles sent from Yemen, Syria, or Lebanon against targets inside Israel have been somewhat of a constant since the Oct.7 terror attacks, that a drone reached all the way into southern Israel from Iraq is a significant first of the conflict.

Early in the war Iran-linked groups in both Iraq and Syria were frequently attacking US bases in the region, however this new strike could be a sign that they are seeking to take the fight directly to Israeli soil.

The type of longer range and more sophisticated drones needed for such an operation out of Iraq were likely supplied by the Iranians, which is sure to increase tensions between longtime enemies Tehran and Tel Aviv. Israel has already long accused the Islamic Republic of funding and supporting both Hamas and Hezbollah. This has also been the case with Yemen's Houthis.

The question remains whether more Iraqi militants will launch more drone attacks on Israeli soil, as to some extent this would open yet another 'front' in the war. Just last Friday Israel mounted its largest airstrikes on Syria in years, resulting in some 40 people killed.

Building in Eilat hit in a drone attack, reportedly launched from Iraq, April 1, 2024. Source: Times of Israel

The airstrikes were conducted deep in northern Syria's Aleppo province. Casualties reportedly included Syrian soldiers, Hezbollah militants, and civilians. The anti-Assad opposition and UK-based organization Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) described that the Aleppo attack left the highest number of dead among Syrian soldiers in a single such Israeli attack. While Israel doesn't typically directly own up to or confirm such attacks on Syrian soil, its military has been conducting sporadic attacks on Syria going back years.

In 2022 there were reports that Iran's navy was actually practicing attacks on Eliat naval base using a mock facility and live fire training, which was highlighted at the time in Israeli media.