As tensions in the Middle East increased as a result of an attack on a hospital in Gaza, the stakes for US President Joe Biden increased when he traveled to Israel on Wednesday to show support for its conflict with Hamas.
The hospital was reportedly targeted by an Israeli air strike, according to Palestinian sources, and Israel was blamed for a “massacre” by the Palestinian Authority’s health minister.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group disputed responsibility for the unsuccessful rocket launch that Israel said was the cause of the explosion at the Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital.
Since Hamas launched out a cross-border attack against villages in southern Israel on October 7 that resulted in at least 1,300 deaths, the region has been in crisis. Reuters was unable to independently verify the claims surrounding the calamity.
Rescuers are currently extricating bodies from the rubble, according to Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Palestinian ministry.
Al Jazeera broadcast video of a chaotic scene as rescuers searched through blood-stained wreckage for survival.
At least four victims were seen being removed by rescuers and bystanders in body bags.
The head of Gaza’s civil defense estimated 300 fatalities, although 500 were reported by officials in the health ministry.
In the Middle East, Biden’s convoluted diplomatic mission was meant to bring stability and support aid to Gaza.
But following the attack, Jordan called off a meeting with the US president, Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine, and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt.
Security officers used tear gas to disperse protesters near the American embassy in Lebanon as well as at Israel’s embassies in Turkey and Jordan.
Health officials in Gaza estimated that during Israel’s 11-day bombing that started after the Hamas attack, which caught Israel off guard and resulted in over 200 individuals being taken as hostages and killed at least 3,000 people, before the hospital strike.
On Wednesday, the Israeli military advised people in Gaza City to leave, claiming that Al-Mawasi, 28 kilometers (17 miles) along the Palestinian enclave’s coast, was a “humanitarian zone” with aid available.
According to a military social media post, “The IDF calls on #GazaCity residents to evacuate south for their protection.”
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House on national security, told reporters as Biden was in flight to Tel Aviv that Biden would ask “tough questions” of Israeli officials but did not provide any other information.
According to Kirby, Biden will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli military cabinet to learn more about Israel’s goals and objectives.
He also wants to send humanitarian goods into Gaza, where the Israeli embargo is leaving millions of Palestinians with little access to food, fuel, and water.
“He’ll be asking some tough questions, he’ll be asking them as a friend, as a true friend of Israel, but he’ll be asking some questions of them,” Kirby declared.
What Biden could do while there was a mystery. On his way back to Washington, the U.S. president, according to Kirby, planned to speak with Sisi and Abbas.
According to Richard Gowan, UN director at International Crisis Group, “this kind of murky but horrific event makes diplomacy harder and increases escalation risks.”
The United States does not want the fight to escalate into a larger war, according to Biden’s earlier statements.
Iran, which backs Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas, has threatened escalation against Israel if it doesn’t stop its attacks on Palestinians.
Following gunfights between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, the U.S. State Department advised citizens not to visit Lebanon.
Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, described himself as “horrified” by the number of people killed in the hospital attack on Tuesday.
In addition to pleading with Israel to permit urgent, unhindered access to humanitarian aid for Gaza, Guterres also pleaded with Hamas to release hostages immediately and unconditionally.