The White House has strongly criticized Iran's recent seizure of a Portuguese-flagged ship with Israeli ties in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz.

The vessel, affiliated with Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer's Zodiac Maritime, was detained by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The United States has urged Iran to release the ship and its crew immediately, denouncing the seizure as an act of piracy.,

Efforts underway to refloat M/V Dali and reopen Baltimore Channel Efforts underway to refloat M/V Dali and reopen Baltimore Channel

Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized the cargo vessel in the Strait of Hormuz days after Tehran vowed to retaliate for a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1. Iran had said it could close the crucial shipping route.

"The vessel was diverted into Iran's territorial waters as a result of violating maritime laws and not answering calls made by Iranian authorities," spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said.

Iran launched a barrage of missiles and explosive drones on Saturday in its first direct attack on Israeli territory, a strike that Tehran said was self-defence after the bombing of the consulate.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded the MSC Aries and taken it into Iranian waters.

In response to escalating tensions, President Joe Biden has curtailed his weekend plans to address the situation, emphasizing the gravity of the Middle East dynamics. Concurrently, the Jordanian Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority has temporarily closed its airspace due to "regional tensions."

Iran's warnings of retaliation against Israel for an earlier attack on Tehran's embassy in Damascus, coupled with Israel's vow to respond to any direct threat, have intensified concerns. Biden has cautioned against potential Iranian strikes on Israel, reaffirming America's unwavering support for its ally.

The situation further escalated with reported missile and drone incursions into Israeli territory from Lebanon, following Israeli airstrikes on alleged Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon.

In parallel, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza persists, with casualties mounting amid ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Despite UN Security Council calls for a ceasefire during Ramadan, Israel has continued its offensive.