A huge explosion at a Gaza hospital has derailed the diplomatic efforts led by the United States to mobilise support for ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’ with a summit between American President Joe Biden and Arab leaders in Jordan’s Amman being called off.
Hundreds of people are feared dead after a deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza for which Hamas and Israel traded charges holding each other responsible for the incident.
Biden is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday on a solidarity visit to express support for Israel.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi announced that Biden’s summit in Amman scheduled to take place on Wednesday with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been cancelled.
Biden has been backing Israeli calls for eliminating Hamas following the attacks carried out by it on Israel on October 7 in which more than 1,300 people were killed and between 200 and 250 Israelis are said to have been taken to Gaza as hostages.
Hamas was quick to blame an Israeli air strike for causing the explosion at the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday, but Israel vehemently denied the charges insisting that a misfired rocket by the Islamic faction caused the explosion.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, widely considered to be the faction’s overall leader, in a surprising move, blamed the US as responsible for the attack stressing that Washington, DC gave Israel the ‘cover for its aggression’.
“The hospital massacre confirms the enemy’s brutality and the extent of his feeling of defeat,” Haniyeh said in a televised address.
He called upon all the Palestinian people ‘to get out and confront the occupation and the settlers’ and for all Arabs and Muslims to stage protests against Israel.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey also accused Israel of bombing the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held the ‘barbaric terrorists in Gaza’ responsible for the deaths.
‘So the whole world knows: The barbaric terrorists in Gaza are the ones who attacked the Gaza hospital, not the IDF (Israel Defence Forces),’ Netanyahu said in a statement.
‘Those who cruelly murdered our children, murder their children as well,’ he stressed.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog went on to describe the accusations by Hamas as a ‘blood libel’.
‘An Islamic Jihad missile has killed many Palestinians at a Gazan hospital — a place where lives should be saved,’ Herzog said in a tweet.
Islamic Jihad has denied the allegations.
‘Shame on the media who swallow the lies of Hamas and Islamic Jihad — broadcasting a 21st-century blood libel around the globe. Shame on the vile terrorists in Gaza who wilfully spill the blood of the innocent,’ the Israeli president wrote.
‘Never before has the choice been clearer. Israel is standing against an enemy made of pure evil. If you stand for humanity — for the value of all human life — you stand with Israel,’ he emphasised as the tensions in the region look to intensify further following the deadly incident.
A statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that an analysis of Israel Defence Forces (IDF) operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing close to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit.
‘Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicate that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza,’ it said.
Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, backing his government’s position said, “We know that at the time of this tragedy in Gaza, there was a huge barrage against targets in central Israel. We had the siren here in Tel Aviv, and I went to a bomb shelter.”
“We know they fired rockets at that same time. Hamas put out a statement that they were sending a long-range rocket on Haifa [northern Israel] at this time,” Regev pointed out.
“Now no rocket actually reached Haifa. Where did that rocket go? Where did it land?” he questioned.
Regev also noted that based on Israel’s past conflicts with Gaza factions, it is known that about 33 per cent of their rockets fall short and land in Gaza.
Earlier on Tuesday evening, a senior Palestinian official said that Abbas had cancelled his participation in the meeting with Biden following huge spontaneous protests in the West Bank after the news of the explosion came out.
The Palestinian Authority’s security forces had to use force to quell the protests.
The West Bank so far had been relatively quiet amid escalating tensions between Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
The UAE and Russia have called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday following the blast at the hospital.
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