The United States President Joe Biden has backed reports that the explosion at a Gaza hospital which killed at least 500 civilians was caused by a misfired Palestinian militant rocket launch, rather than an Israeli air strike, in a joint press conference in Tel Aviv with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Wednesday.
“Based on what I have seen, it was done by the other team, not you,” Biden stated. “But there’s a lot of people out there who are not sure, so we’ve got to overcome a lot of things.”
Biden further assured that Washington would provide Israel with everything it needed to defend itself.
During the press conference, Biden went to say that for its killing of Israeli civilians in the 7 October surprise attack, Hamas was worse than Islamic State (ISIS). “[Hamas] committed evils and atrocities that make Isis somewhat more rational,” he added.
Following Tuesday’s deadly hospital strike, Biden conveyed his “outrage and deep sadness” over the incident, for which both Palestinian armed groups and Israel have blamed each other. He further mentioned that he had directed his national security team to gather information and determine precisely what occurred. However, Biden’s statement today came before any investigation.
The US President’s visit to the Middle East, which started with Israel, was originally intended to pacify the region and bolster humanitarian efforts for Gaza. Heavy Israeli bombardment of Gaza continued during Biden’s visit to Tel Aviv.
However, following the hospital strike, Jordan cancelled a planned summit with President Biden, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. President Abbas also cancelled his plans to meet with Biden separately.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, speaking on state-run television, emphasised that the war between Israel and Hamas was pushing the region to the brink. He stated that Jordan would only host the summit when all parties agreed on its purpose: “To stop the war, respect the humanity of the Palestinians, and deliver the aid they deserve.”
While Israel had barred the entry of water, fuel, and food into Gaza since Hamas’ surprise attack, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken managed to secure an agreement with Netanyahu to discuss the creation of a mechanism for delivering aid to Gaza’s 2.3 million people. US officials noted that the progress might appear modest but stressed its significance.
As of Wednesday, however, no deal had been finalised. A senior Israeli official stated that their country was demanding guarantees that Hamas militants would not seize aid deliveries. Tzahi Hanegbi, head of Israel’s National Security Council, suggested that the entry of aid also depended on the return of hostages held by Hamas.
The United Nations reported that over one million Palestinians have fled their homes, approximately half of Gaza’s population, with 60% now residing in the roughly 14-kilometre (8-mile) long area south of the evacuation zone. At the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s sole connection to Egypt, truckloads of aid have been waiting to enter. The World Food Program noted that it had more than 300 tons of food ready to cross into Gaza.