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Netanyahu at a Cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP via Getty

Israel could be risking escalation with Iran and tensions with the Biden administration by continuing to strike Iranian ships — a risk that is exacerbated by Israel's political crisis and dysfunctional interim government.

Why it matters: An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship was attacked in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday, the same day the Vienna talks opened.

The backstory: Over the last two years, Israel has been engaged in a secret military campaign to sabotage dozens of Iranian ships and tankers which had transferred oil to Syria or missile parts to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

  • This campaign was kept under the radar until it was reported several weeks ago by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
  • Around the same time, the Iranians belatedly retaliated by attacking two Israeli-owned ships in the Gulf. Tuesday's attack was an Israeli response.

What they're saying: The Pentagon was quick to tell reporters that the U.S. wasn't involved in the attack, and U.S. officials later told the New York Times that Israel was responsible.

  • The Israeli government has been silent on the attacks other than general statements against Iran.
  • The attacks could complicate U.S.-Iran nuclear diplomacy and the Biden administrations efforts to end the war in Yemen.

What next: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is due in Israel on Sunday. The regional escalation with Iran will be one of the main topics in his discussions.

Go deeper

Apr 6, 2021 - World

Scoop: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to visit Israel next week

Lloyd Austin at the White House. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to travel to Israel next week, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This will be the first Cabinet-level visit to the Middle East from the Biden administration, which has been shifting attention away from the region and toward China and Russia.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

3 killed, 2 wounded overnight in Kenosha bar shooting

Three people died and two others were hospitalized with serious injuries after a gunman entered bar in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, the police department said in a statement on Sunday.

The latest: Officers arrested a "person of interest" Sunday afternoon in connection with the 12:42 a.m. shooting and there's "no threat to the community at this time," per a later police statement.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Big European soccer teams announce breakaway league

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) after striking the ball during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Liverpool F.C. and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, England, last Wednesday. Photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

12 of world soccer's biggest and richest clubs announced Sunday they've formed a breakaway European "Super League" — with clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona Real Madrid, Juventus and A.C. Milan among those to sign up.

Why it matters: The prime ministers of the U.K. and Italy are among those to express concern at the move — which marks a massive overhaul of the sport's structure and finances, and it effectively ends the decades-old UEFA Champions League's run as the top tournament for European soccer.

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