Biden meets Netanyahu amid Gaza hospital blast outrage

October 19, 2023 by AAP
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A massive blast at a Gaza hospital killed huge numbers of Palestinians, wrecking an emergency diplomatic mission by US President Joe Biden, who backed Israel’s account that the explosion was caused by militants, not by Israel.

Joe Biden met with Benjamin Netanyahu amid outrage and recrimination over the Gaza hospital blast. (AP PHOTO)

Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday to show support for its war against Hamas, but following the explosion at the hospital, Arab leaders called off the second half of his itinerary, a summit with Arab neighbours in Amman.

Palestinian officials blamed an Israeli air strike for the huge blast and fireball which engulfed the Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital, and said it killed as many as 500 people.

Israel said the blast was caused by a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, which denied blame.

Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden said: “I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion of the hospital in Gaza yesterday, and based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you.”

“But there’s a lot of people out there not sure, so we’ve got a lot, we’ve got to overcome a lot of things,” Biden added.

“The world is looking. Israel has a value set like the United States does, and other democracies, and they are looking to see what we are going to do.”

Biden’s trip to the Middle East was supposed to calm the region, even as he demonstrated US support for its ally Israel, which has vowed to annihilate the Hamas movement whose fighters killed 1400 Israelis in a rampage on October 7.

But after the hospital blast, Jordan cancelled the second half of Biden’s itinerary: a planned summit in Amman with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to shore up aid to Gaza and avert wider war.

Netanyahu thanked Biden for his “unequivocal support”. Herzog’s office said Herzog had told Biden: “God bless you for protecting the nation of Israel.”

The scenes of destruction from the hospital were horrific even by the standards of the past 12 days, which have confronted the world with relentless images, first of Israelis slaughtered in their homes and then of Palestinian families buried under rubble from Israel’s retaliatory strikes.

Rescue workers scoured blood-stained debris for survivors. A Gaza civil defence chief gave a death toll of 300, while health ministry sources put it at 500. Palestinian ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qudra said rescuers were still recovering bodies.

“People came running into the surgery department screaming, ‘Help us, help us, there are people killed and wounded inside the hospital!'” said Dr Fadel Naim, Head of the hospital’s Orthopedic Surgery Department, who he had just finished an operation and was about to start another when the explosion hit.

“The hospital was full of dead and wounded, dismembered bodies, and dead,” he told Reuters. “We tried to save whoever can be saved but the number was too big for the hospital team to be able to save … We saw them alive but we couldn’t help them and they were martyred.”

Israel later released drone footage of the scene of the hospital explosion, which it said showed it was not responsible because there was no impact crater from any missile or bomb.

The Israeli military also published what it said was an audio recording of “communication between terrorists talking about rockets misfiring”. Israel added that Palestinian figures of up to 500 killed appeared to be exaggerated.

Palestinians were convinced the explosion was an Israeli attack, with no warning for civilians to leave a hospital that was being used as a shelter by thousands of Gazans already made homeless by Israeli bombing.

The blast unleashed new fury on streets across the Middle East, even as Biden was desperately trying to calm emotions and prevent the conflict from sweeping across borders.

Palestinian security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse anti-government protesters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, seat of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, one of the Arab leaders who cancelled meeting Biden.

Protests also erupted at Israel’s embassies in Turkey and Jordan and near the US embassy in Lebanon, where security forces fired tear gas toward demonstrators.

The Israeli military announced on Wednesday that humanitarian aid would be made available in a “humanitarian zone” in Al-Mawasi on the south of the Gaza Strip coast near the Egyptian border. It did not spell out how aid would get there.

By: Nidal al-Mughrabi and Steve Holland /AAP


One Response to “Biden meets Netanyahu amid Gaza hospital blast outrage”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    The media are to blame for the explosion of rage and the accompanying hysteria amongst Palestinians in the West Bank and pro-Palestinian supporters around the world. They did not wait to get the facts, but named and blamed Israel straightaway – this has done enormous damage, for even as the facts are outlined people prefer to stick with the original ‘Israel did it’ cry.
    Is this then the way the war will go? Lies from Hamas being accepted immediately and outrage inflicted on Israel, who are defending their existence rather than wreaking vengeance. If so, we shall have to ignore it completely and let them enjoy their feeding frenzy. It is, though, a disgrace after what happened on October 7.

    The Palestinians of Gaza are the responsibility of Hamas, not Israel. As for the number of dead given by Hamas as over 3000, why is it that journalists accept that figure without question? It is Hamas we’re talking about here. What is wrong with these people? Are they naive or are they eager to see Israel as the evil one?

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