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Israel warns Iran that it will “suffer the consequences” after ship blockade

Gaza Strip. Iran on Saturday intercepted a ship linked to Israel, which warned that the Islamic Republic “will suffer the consequences” of an escalation in a region destabilized by more than six months of war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The maritime forces of the Revolutionary Guards intercepted a container ship operated by a company “belonging to the Zionist capitalist Eyal Ofer” in the Gulf, the official Iranian agency Irna reported.

Several commandos boarded the ship ‘MSC Aries’ from a helicopter when it was “near the Strait of Hormuz,” he added.

There were 25 crew members on board, according to the Swiss-Italian shipowner MSC, Irna said.

Israel warned that Iran, its archenemy, “will suffer the consequences” of any escalation. “We are ready to react,” said Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari.

The seizure of the ship occurs in a context of growing tensions in the Middle East, against the backdrop of the war between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip, triggered by a bloody incursion by Islamist commandos in southern Israel on October 7.

Tensions increased further with the bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1. Tehran, which lost two of its generals in the attack, blamed it on Israel and warned it would not go unpunished.

Fearing an escalation, the Ministry of Defense of the United States, an ally of Israel, reported on Friday the sending of “additional means” to the area “to reinforce deterrence efforts and increase the protection of American forces.”

Fears of a regionalization of the conflict come as Qatar, Egypt and the United States, mediating a truce in Gaza, await a response to their latest proposal for a ceasefire.

“Total panic”

France, Germany and the United States recommended their citizens refrain from traveling to Iran and several airlines suspended their flights to the country.

Tehran has not indicated whether the seizure of the ship is already a response to the deadly attack on its consulate in Damascus.

“For a week now, the Zionists have been in a state of total panic and on alert,” Yahya Rahim Safavi, advisor to the Supreme Leader of Iran, said on Saturday, quoted by the Isna agency.

“They stopped the military attack on Rafah,” in southern Gaza, and “because they don’t know what Iran wants to do, they and their allies are terrified,” he added.

The Oct. 7 Islamist incursion into southern Israel left 1,170 dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli data.

The Islamist movement also took 250 hostages, of whom 129 remain in Gaza, including 34 who are believed to have died, according to Israeli authorities.

In response, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas and launched a relentless offensive that has already left 33,686 dead in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Ministry of Health of the territory, governed by Hamas since 2007.

The Israeli army announced on Saturday that it will continue its operations in central Gaza, after the withdrawal of its troops from Khan Younis, in the south of this ruined territory.

An AFP video shows what remains of a mosque in Deir al Balah. The army “demanded to evacuate the entire area” before destroying it “in a matter of minutes,” said Abdullah Baraka, a witness.

The conflict, in addition to the significant number of victims, has left the majority of Gaza’s almost 2.5 million inhabitants on the brink of famine, according to the UN. The Israeli siege prevents the entry of humanitarian aid required by the small territory.

Israeli teenager “murdered” in West Bank

The conflict has also fueled violence in the occupied West Bank, where the body of an Israeli teenager missing the day before was discovered.

Benjamin Achimeir, 14, was “killed” in a “terrorist attack,” the army said.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant urged Israeli settlers in the West Bank to put an end to the “acts of revenge” that were unleashed against Palestinians because of this drama.

The war is also felt on the other side of the border. Air sirens blared over the Israeli city of Sderot on Friday and the army intercepted rockets launched from Gaza.

Further north, in southern Lebanon, the Israeli army said Saturday that it bombed “a large military compound” of the Iran-backed Hamas-allied Hezbollah movement, the day after the Shiite movement fired “dozens of rockets.” against Israeli positions.

In addition to Lebanon there are other Iranian-backed groups in the region, including in Yemen and Syria.

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– 2024-04-17 06:23:03

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