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This is the second megathread for discussion regarding the crisis.

Informal/Satirical news sources are not allowed on the main feed of the community but you are free to post them in this thread.

Please remember that all community and instance rules apply to this thread hence keep is civil.

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Iranian armed forces have seized a container ship near the Strait of Hormuz amid rising tensions across the region after a deadly Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria.

The ship was commandeered by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the elite force that lost seven members, including two generals, in the Syria strike, Iranian state media reported on Saturday.

“The ship has now been guided towards the territorial waters of our country,” state-run IRNA reported.

The vessel was identified as the Portugal-flagged MSC Aries, which reportedly departed from a port in the United Arab Emirates en route to India. It is associated with the London-based Zodiac Maritime, a part of the Zodiac Group run by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer and his family.

Footage from the deck of the vessel obtained by The Associated Press news agency on Saturday showed soldiers rappelling down from a helicopter.

The helicopter appeared to be a Soviet-designed Mil Mi-17, which is operated by the naval forces of the IRGC. ⠀

Another Israeli-linked container ship was attacked and damaged by a drone in the Indian Ocean in late November, which the United States blamed on Iran.

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  • Sitonholy, which has been added to the US Entity List, is one of a few ‘elite-level’ Nvidia data centre product solutions providers in China
  • The company has also been distributing Huawei Technologies’ Ascend 910B AI chips, an alternative to Nvidia’s A100 GPUs ⠀

Chinese companies have lost access to one of the country’s largest distribution channels for Nvidia processors after the US added a major reseller to its export blacklist, strengthening Washington’s efforts to curb artificial intelligence (AI) development in China while pushing more Chinese businesses towards local replacements.

Sitonholy (Tianjin) was among four Chinese companies added to the US Entity List on Wednesday for allegedly helping China’s military acquire AI chips, according to a post published on the Federal Register. ⠀

Sitonholy is one of a few “elite-level” Nvidia data centre product solutions providers in China, having retained its franchise rights for being able maintain strong sales year after year, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter who declined to be named because they are not authorised to speak to the media.

While Nvidia has been banned by the US from exporting to China its advanced A100 and H100 data-centre graphics processing units (GPUs), which have become sought-after for AI training, it has come up with new replacements for China-based clients, such as the H20, L20 and L2 GPUs.

However, being blacklisted by the US has effectively ended Sitonholy’s distributorship of Nvidia products, forcing it to sell mostly domestic chips from now on, sources said. ⠀

China has accelerated efforts to substitute foreign chips and software with domestic products to safeguard national and industrial security.

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Seven journalists were among the wounded after Israeli forces attacked a refugee camp in Gaza, CNN reported on Friday.

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  • Tehran views the attack as equivalent to an attack on its own territory, so a direct response on Israeli soil by Iran itself is a serious possibility

  • Countries including India, France, Poland and Russia have warned their citizens against travel to the region, already on edge over the war in Gaza ‎⠀

“The revenge will come,” wrote Israel’s largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. “For the moment, the premise is that it will be very soon, in the next few days.” ⠀

“It’s going to be very difficult for Iran not to retaliate,” said Raz Zimmt, senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.

“I still believe that Iran doesn’t want to engage in full-scale, direct military confrontation against Israel, and certainly not with the United States. But it has to do something.” ⠀

Iranian sources and diplomats from the United States, Israel’s main protector, say Tehran has signalled to Washington that it wishes to avoid escalation and will not act hastily.

But the risk remains that any response might spin out of control. ⠀

Iran has missiles capable of hitting Israel directly and in recent weeks, Israel has bolstered its air defences, which have intercepted thousands of rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza and by Hezbollah from Lebanon.

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