US-President Joe Biden wants to discuss the extremely tense situation in the Middle East with his security team in the White House. To do this, the 81-year-old shortened his stay on Saturday at his beach house in Rehoboth Beach in the US state of Delaware, where he actually wanted to spend the weekend. “The President returns to the White House this afternoon to consult with his national security team on events in the Middle East,” the US government headquarters said on Saturday via the press traveling with Biden.

In view of a feared Iranian attack on Israel, the USA is increasing its military presence in the Middle East. “We are deploying additional units to the region to strengthen regional deterrence and improve the protection of U.S. forces,” a U.S. Department of Defense official said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari reiterated his country's defense readiness. “We have increased our preparations to protect Israel from further Iranian aggression. We are also ready to respond,” Hagari said.

Container ship “MCS Aries” is to be diverted to Iran

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard seized a merchant ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday night. The container ship “MCS Aries” with a “connection to Israel” was seized in a helicopter operation by special units of the Revolutionary Guards in the strait between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and is being diverted towards Iran, the state news agency Irna reported on Saturday. The ship sails under the Portuguese flag for a company that belongs to “the Zionist capitalist Eyal Ofer”.

The Italian-Swiss shipping company MSC confirmed the seizure and said there were 25 crew members on board the ship. The company said it was “working closely with relevant authorities” to ensure the well-being of crew members and the “safe return of the ship.”

British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps called on Iran to release the ship. The seizure is unacceptable and a blatant violation of international law, Shapps wrote on the online platform X on Saturday. The ship and the crew must be released immediately and unconditionally. Israel accused Iran of piracy. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called on the EU to classify Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a “terrorist organization.”

Federal government withdraws embassy staff

According to the federal government, the relatives of German embassy employees left Iran in view of the extremely tense situation. The Foreign Office confirmed a corresponding report from “Bild am Sonntag” to the AFP news agency. In addition, additional security precautions were taken to protect the German embassies in Tehran and Tel Aviv.

Because of the tensions, Lufthansa canceled its flights to the Iranian capital Tehran until Thursday next week. The airline will also no longer use Iranian airspace, a spokesman said. Lufthansa had already suspended its flights to and from Tehran in the past few days.

Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened Israel on Wednesday with retaliation for an attack attributed to Israel on an Iranian consular building in the Syrian capital Damascus that killed 16 people in early April. Among the dead were two generals of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and five other members of the elite force.

Iran is a declared supporter of the Islamist Palestinian organization Hamas, which triggered the war in the Gaza Strip with its major attack on Israel on October 7th. According to Israeli reports, around 1,170 people were killed in the attack and around 250 others were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip.

Hezbollah carries out drone attacks on northern Israel

According to the military, an Israeli reservist was seriously injured on Saturday in an attack by a drone loaded with explosives from Lebanon. The pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia had previously announced that it had attacked a military building near the northern Israeli kibbutz Hanita with drones. There were casualties on the Israeli side during this and another attack with rockets and artillery on soldiers.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army attacked further targets in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon. After several rockets fired at Israel from the coastal strip were intercepted on Friday evening, artillery fired on the launch sites, the army said on Saturday. Fighter jets also destroyed launch pads with 20 missiles.

In southern Lebanon, the air force destroyed a large military facility belonging to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia near the town of Rihan. Attacks were later carried out against targets near the cities of Hula and Beit Lif. There were several air alerts in northern Israel.

Israeli boy found 'murdered'

According to the army, an Israeli 14-year-old who had been missing since the previous day was found “murdered” in the West Bank on Saturday. The army said the boy was killed in a “terrorist attack”.

The teenager's disappearance had sparked a large-scale search and attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinian villages since Friday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of a “despicable crime” after the body was found.

Shortly afterwards, Israel's Defense Minister Joav Gallant called on Platform X to refrain from revenge actions. “The law cannot be taken into one’s own hands,” he wrote.