Two Saudi oil tankers were the targets of a “sabotage attack” off the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister says. The incident near Fujairah port, in the Gulf just outside the Strait of Hormuz, caused “significant damage” to the ships, according to Khalid al-Falih. The UAE said four ships were targeted, but that there were no casualties. Iran, which borders the strait, called the incident “worrisome and dreadful” and called for a full investigation. Tensions are high in the region, through which about a fifth of oil that is consumed globally passes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered “massive strikes” on the Gaza Strip after a two-day escalation that killed 24 Palestinians and four Israelis. Israeli warplanes and gunboats continued to target the Gaza Strip on Sunday as fighters in the besieged enclave fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel. Armed factions in Gaza, otherwise known as the Joint Operations Room, which include the military wing of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, vowed on Saturday to “extend its response” if the Israeli army continued to target the strip.
The White House has confirmed it is considering the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, after Donald Trump was personally lobbied by Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. The official designation of the Islamist movement as terrorist would have far-reaching effects, sanctioning companies and individuals who had any interactions with the group. The Muslim Brotherhood is a network of loosely affiliated groups across the Islamic world. In Egypt, the movement has gone underground since Sisi took power, but remains a source of determined opposition to his regime.
The worst surge of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2014 happened this week. It started with a botched Israeli raid into Gaza on Sunday which left seven Palestinians and one Israeli dead. Gaza militants fired over 460 rockets into Israel while Israel hit 160 military targets before Egypt brokered a ceasefire.
A local Hamas commander and several other Palestinians were killed in an Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip. One Israeli soldier was killed and another wounded during the operation. A Hamas spokesman described the incident as a ‘cowardly Israeli attack.’ Palestinians said undercover Israeli forces infiltrated the area in a civilian vehicle.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Israel identified a ‘secret atomic warehouse’ in Tehran, Iran which contains nuclear and radioactive materials. Netanyahu made his claim at the UN General Assembly on Thursday and called for new sanctions against Iran. Netanyahu used satellite images of the supposed nuclear warehouse to support his claims.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas commented on the United States President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital calling it, ‘the slap of the century.’ Palestinian leaders are meeting in Ramallah, to form a concrete response to Trump’s action. Abbas said he will not accept any peace plan from the US after the Jerusalem decision.
The first world chess tournament hosted by Saudi Arabia is entangled in controversy after Israeli competitors were barred from playing, and Qatari players withdrew after being banned from showing their flag. A spokesman for the Israeli Chess Federation, Lior Aizenberg, said, ‘The relationships between countries should not be part of international events such as championships.’
Talk of a long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza was interrupted early Thursday when the Israeli military traded blows with Palestinian militants. A rocket was fired toward the southern Israeli city of Beersheba and Israel responded with an airstrike in western Gaza City. A ceasefire was set to begin Thursday night.
A report was released by the Pentagon on Friday which said US military actions killed 499 civilians last year in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan. The report said there were ‘no credible reports’ of casualties due to US military operations last year in Somalia or Libya. The report covers US airstrikes and ground combat operations.