Biden Admin Removed Org Attacking Israelis From Terror Group List. Now, They’re Reconsidering

(Photo by Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP) (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images)

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Jake Smith Contributor
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An Iranian-backed rebel group whose designation as a terrorist organization was revoked by the Biden administration is intensifying attacks against Israel and forcing the U.S. military to intervene.

The Houthis, a Yemeni rebel group backed by the Iranians, has launched multiple attacks against Israel in a show of support for Hamas, which killed over 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped hundreds of others on Oct. 7. The Biden administration removed the Houthis (sometimes referred to as Ansarallah) from the Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list in 2021, at which point the group began ramping up its attacks both inside and outside Yemen, according to several observers. (RELATED: Wild Video Shows Yemeni Rebels Hijacking A Cargo Ship In The Red Sea)

Following the recent and increasing barrage of attacks from the rebel group against Israel, the Biden administration is musing whether the Houthis should be back on the FTO list, Reuters reported Tuesday.

The Houthis most recently attempted to attack Israel on Monday by hijacking what the rebel group thought was an Israeli-operated ship in the Red Sea. The Houthis infiltrated the ship via helicopter and took over a dozen crew members hostage before taking control of the vessel and sailing it back to a Yemeni port.

“The Yemeni Naval Forces managed to capture an Israeli ship in the depths of the Red Sea taking it to the Yemeni coast,” a spokesman for the Houthis said on Monday. “The Yemeni armed forces reiterate their warning to all ships belonging to or dealing with the Israeli enemy that they will become a legitimate target.”

The ship was later discovered to be British-owned and was being operated by a Japanese firm at the time. No Israelis were onboard when the ship was hijacked; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the operation as “another act of Iranian aggression.”

On Nov. 15, the USS Thomas Hudner, while “transiting through the Red Sea,” shot down a drone fired toward Israel by the Houthis from Yemen. The day prior, The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) long-range air defense system intercepted a surface-to-surface missile headed toward the city of Eilat, according to the Times of Israel; the IDF and its Air Force have intercepted several separate missile and drone barrages by the Houthis since the initial Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, according to The Associated Press.

The U.S. got directly involved in the conflict with the Houthis on Oct. 19, when the USS Carney, making passage through the Red Sea at the time, intercepted over a dozen missiles and drones fired toward Israel from Yemen, the AP reported. The USS Thomas shot down a drone on Nov. 15 that “originated from Yemen and was heading in the direction of the ship,” according to the Pentagon. (RELATED: Pentagon Claims Deterrence Is Working In Middle East Despite Recent String Of Attacks, Protests)

The Houthis shot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Red Sea on Nov. 8, according to Military Times. The Pentagon was trying to determine whether the drone was in international or Yemeni airspace at the time it was shot down; the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for an update on the investigation.

The Trump administration added the Houthis to the FTO list in January 2021, following the group’s attack against a Yemeni airport that killed 22 civilians in December 2020, according to the UAE Embassy and Reuters. After the inauguration of President Joe Biden, his administration removed the Houthis from the FTO list in February 2021, citing concerns over the humanitarian impact the designation would have on Yemen itself, according to the AP.

The Biden administration is considering reinstating the Houthis to the FTO list in lieu of the recent attacks against Israel, according to Reuters.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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