President Biden suggested on Wednesday that Hamas was responsible for the Gaza hospital explosion that killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians. Speaking in Tel Aviv alongside Israeli Prime Minister , Biden declared his “outrage” over the blast at al-Ahli Hospital and echoed Israeli claims that it was done by Palestinian militants.
“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” Biden told the Israeli leader. “But there’s a lot of people out there not sure, so we’ve got to overcome a lot of things.”
After his trip to Israel, Biden planned to visit Jordan, where he was supposed to meet with King Abdullah II, Palestinian Authority and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. But the blast caused Abbas to pull out of the meeting, which was then canceled. The Palestinian Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, said the hospital was hit by an Israeli airstrike.
More than 4,700 people have been killed on both sides since the war began, with tens of thousands of others injured. U.S. officials have said at least 31 Americans are among the overall death toll, with another 13 missing.
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Egypt caught between Israel and Hamas as crisis deepens
Palestinians with dual citizenship gather outside Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the hope of getting permission to leave Gaza, amid the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip October 16, 2023. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)
Egypt has a decisive role to play as the war between Israel and Hamas threatens to spiral into a regional crisis, as it controls the only crossing to or from Gaza not controlled by the Israeli government.
That link, Rafah, remains closed. Aid trucks with food and supplies for Gazans are stuck on the Egyptian side of the border. Palestinians with dual citizenship — including hundreds with U.S. passports — are trying to get out.
Negotiations are ongoing in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, where strongman President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week. He was expected to meet with President Biden in Jordan on Wednesday, but the summit was called off after the destruction of a hospital in Gaza.
Like all Arab states, Egypt supports Palestinian statehood. But it also has a peace treaty with Israel — and receives $1.3 billion in American aid annually — making Egypt a uniquely influential nation as the Middle East reaches a point of extreme tension.
Read more from Yahoo News Senior White House Correspondent Alexander Nazaryan
U.S. working with partners in the region to free hostages, Biden says
President Biden said his administration was working with partners across the region to free hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7.
Although he said he was unable to speak about the “details” of what was going on behind the scenes, Biden reassured the family members of those kidnapped that there was no “higher priority” than freeing their loved ones. “You are not alone,” he said.
Humanitarian aid can move into Gaza: Biden
President Biden delivers remarks in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
President Biden said Israel has agreed to allow “life-saving” humanitarian support into Gaza, and he pledged $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank.
Speaking at a news conference in Tel Aviv, Biden said the aid will travel from Egypt and will be subjected to inspection. He added that if the aid was stolen by Hamas, the U.S. would stop the international community from being able to provide any aid. “The people of Gaza need food, water and shelter,” Biden said.
Americans should not travel to Lebanon, State Department warns
The State Department on Tuesday issued a new travel advisory urging U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to Lebanon, which shares a border with Israel.
The U.S. government raised the travel warning “due to the unpredictable security situation related to rocket, missile, and artillery exchanges” between Israel and Hezbollah, a militant group in Lebanon that’s backed by Iran and is supporting Hamas.
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, has a “limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens,” the State Department said.
Read more from Reuters: What you need to know about Hezbollah
U.N. agency calls on foreign ministers to support Gaza humanitarian efforts
The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has asked foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to fully support the humanitarian efforts that are in place to safeguard Palestinians in Gaza. In a statement released ahead of a meeting between foreign ministers of the OIC on Wednesday, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini asked that they support an immediate ceasefire and allow the movement of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
For more on UNRWA’s statement, click here.
Biden says he’s seen Defense Department data on Gaza hospital attack
After he made brief remarks to Israelis in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, President Biden said he relied on data from the U.S. military to make his determination that Israel wasn’t responsible for the hospital attack that Gaza says left hundreds of Palestinians dead.
When a reporter asked him how he was certain, Biden said: “The data I was shown by my Defense Department.”
Red Cross ready to deliver aid to Gaza
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday it has 60 tons of aid, including medical supplies, ready to be delivered to Gaza, but it is waiting for “safe humanitarian access” to the area.
The ICRC said in a statement that it has a four-person surgical team on standby to help wounded Palestinians in Gaza hospitals.
“It’s critically important to deploy. We all know the situation is very bad,” the ICRC’s chief surgeon, Tom Potokar, said. “There are a huge number of wounded people and a lot of displaced people, and ICRC has a role in helping these people in their suffering. The situation this time is much more difficult. There are far bigger numbers in terms of the people injured. The humanitarian crisis that is unfolding is on a much bigger scale.”
Gaza hospital blast fatalities
Figures released by the Gaza Health Ministry on Wednesday state that 471 Palestinians were killed and another 314 were injured in Tuesday night’s explosion at the al-Ahli Hospital. At least 28 of those are in critical condition, the ministry confirmed.
European leaders call for investigation over Gaza hospital strike
“European leaders called for clarity on the cause of the Gaza hospital blast which reportedly killed hundreds of people.
E.U. prime ministers and presidents were holding a video summit to forge a common position on the Israeli-Hamas war, when the explosion occurred at the Ahli Arab Hospital.
Israel has claimed the strike was a failed rocket fired from the Palestinian territories, rather than a missile fired by its own forces.
The morning after the attack Charles Michel, the European Council president said: ‘It’s imperative that all the facts surrounding this incident are thoroughly investigated, and those responsible are held accountable.’
In Berlin, protesters, armed with stones and rocks, clashed with police in the Neukölln district after news of the bombing broke.
Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, who is in Israel, said: “I am horrified by the images of the explosion in a hospital in Gaza. Innocent civilians were injured and killed.” Mr Scholz was forced to take cover on Monday night after his plane came under rocket fire at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. ‘Our thoughts are with the families of the victims. A thorough investigation of the incident is imperative,’ he said.”
(Cover photo: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)