Live updates | Cease-fire pleas and Israel-Hamas recriminations rise in wake of Gaza hospital blast
(AP) - President Joe Biden is in Israel on an urgent mission to keep the Israel-Hamas war from spiraling into a broader regional conflict. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that limited humanitarian aid would be allowed into Gaza from Egypt following a request from Biden.
The president’s visit came after hundreds of people were reported killed in an explosion at a Gaza Strip hospital. There were conflicting claims of who was responsible for the hospital blast. Officials in Gaza quickly blamed an Israeli airstrike. Israel denied it was involved and released a flurry of video, audio and other information that it said showed the blast was due to a missile misfire by Islamic Jihad, another militant group operating in Gaza. The Islamic Jihad dismissed that claim.
The Associated Press has not independently verified any of the claims or evidence released by the parties.
The war that began Oct. 7 has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said Wednesday that 3,478 Palestinians have been killed and more than 12,000 injured in the past 11 days.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, and at least 199 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.
1. Biden says the U.S. will provide $100 million in humanitarian assistance for Palestinians affected by conflict in Gaza and the West Bank.
2. Doctors in Gaza City performed surgery on floors, often without anesthesia, in a desperate bid to save wounded victims of a massive blast that killed civilians sheltering in a hospital.
3. Rage at the hospital carnage spread throughout the Middle East.
4. The leaders of Egypt and Jordan, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called off a planned summit with Biden.
Here’s what’s happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
ANY VEHICLE WILL DO IN RUSH TO GET AIRSTRIKE VICTIMS TO GAZA HOSPITAL
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — A steady stream of ambulances, taxis, cars and a motorcycle sped to the entrance of the Khan Younis hospital carrying the victims of reported Israeli airstrikes on Gaza Wednesday.
Sirens blared and horns honked to clear the way before they screeched to a stop. Crowds lining the street outside watched the urgent scene repeat itself.
Men jumped from the vehicles and scrambled to open rear and side doors and remove the casualties laying on car seats. Hospital workers and others standing nearby helped carry bodies that appeared to be in various states of consciousness.
A man rushed into the hospital with a limp child in his arms. A girl with a large cloth on her head as a bandage was helped from the car but still walking. Several of the injured had to be carried by multiple men or hoisted onto gurneys.
As soon as the wounded were unloaded, the drivers sped off and more vehicles arrived.
UNHCR SAYS IT HAS 3,000 TONS OF AID FOR GAZA READY IN EGYPT
GENEVA — The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a Wednesday news release that an estimated 3,000 tons of humanitarian assistance are awaiting entry to Gaza from Egypt.
OCHA said it estimates about one million people are internally displaced, including about 352,000 people sheltering in UNRWA schools in central and southern Gaza “in increasingly dire conditions.”
It said Gaza is “still under a full electricity blackout.”
HOSTAGES’ FAMILIES DECRY ISRAELI DECISION TO LET AID INTO GAZA
JERUSALEM — The families of hostages held in Gaza have harshly criticized the Israeli government’s decision to allow limited humanitarian aid into Gaza.
A statement released Wednesday by the Hostage and Missing Families Forum said the move only increased their suffering.
“Children, infants, women, soldiers, men, and elderly, some with serious illnesses, wounded and shot, are held underground like animals and without human conditions, and the Israeli government pampers the murderers and kidnappers with baklavas and medicines,” the statement read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said earlier Wednesday that Israel would allow deliveries of food, water and medicine to Gaza, as long as the supplies do not reach Hamas.
Hamas says militants are holding 250 hostages in Gaza.
U.S. VETOES U.N. RESOLUTION TO CONDEMN VIOLENCE IN ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR
UNITED NATIONS — The United States has vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have condemned violence against all civilians in the Israel-Hamas war including “the heinous terrorists attacks by Hamas” against Israel, and would have pushed for humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.
Twelve of the 15 Security Council members on Wednesday voted in favor of the resolution sponsored by Brazil. The United States voted against, while Russia and the United Kingdom abstained.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said after the vote that President Joe Biden is in the region engaging in diplomacy to secure the release of hostages, prevent the conflict from spreading, and stress the need to protect civilians.
“We need to let that diplomacy play out,” she said.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of “hypocrisy” and “double standards,” saying the Americans didn’t want a solution in the Security Council.
Brazil, France, China, the United Arab Emirates and many other council members expressed regret and disappointment at the U.S. veto.
U.S. SAYS INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENT SHOWS ISRAEL NOT BEHIND GAZA HOSPITAL BLAST
WASHINGTON — An intelligence assessment shows Israel was “not responsible” for the explosion at a Gaza hospital, but information is still being collected, the White House said Wednesday.
The assessment is “based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a social media post.
The announcement followed President Joe Biden’s comment to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you.”
There have been conflicting claims of who was responsible for the hospital blast. Officials in Gaza quickly blamed an Israeli airstrike. Israel denied it was involved and released a flurry of video, audio and other information that it said showed the blast was instead due to a missile misfire by Islamic Jihad, another militant group operating in Gaza. The Islamic Jihad dismissed that claim.
The Associated Press has not independently verified any of the claims or evidence released by the parties.
Biden said there were “a lot of people out there” who weren’t sure what caused the blast, which sparked protests throughout the Middle East. He later said he made the assertion based off “data from my Defense Department.”
BIDEN SAYS U.S. TO PROVIDE $100M FOR PALESTINIANS IN GAZA AND WEST BANK
TEL AVIV, Israel — The United States is promising $100 million in humanitarian assistance to help Palestinian people who have been displaced or otherwise affected by conflict in Gaza and the West Bank.
President Joe Biden announced in a news release Wednesday that the assistance would be provided through trusted partners, including U.N. agencies and international NGOs.
Biden is in Tel Aviv to show support for Israel following the Hamas attacks more than a week ago that killed some 1,400 people. His announcement came after Israel agreed to allow limited aid into Gaza from Egypt.
“Civilians are not to blame and should not suffer for Hamas’s horrific terrorism,” Biden said. “Civilian lives must be protected and assistance must urgently reach those in need.”
AID GROUP WARNS OF UNNECESSARY DEATHS AT GAZA HOSPITALS
PARIS — Doctors Without Borders says severely injured people at overwhelmed Gaza hospitals are likely to die because the medical system is collapsing.
The aid group’s president in France, Isabelle Defourny, said Wednesday that one of their surgeons in Gaza reported he will likely have to perform amputations on patients in the coming days because the breakdown in medical care means their limbs cannot be saved.
“The seriously injured who arrive every day … are condemned in the days to come,” she said. “The doctors, the nurses courageously continuing to work won’t succeed in saving their lives. Help is needed extremely urgently.”
ISRAEL ALLOWS EGYPT TO DELIVER LIMITED AID TO GAZA
JERUSALEM — Israel says it will allow Egypt to deliver limited quantities of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the decision was approved Wednesday in light of a request from visiting President Joe Biden.
In a statement, it said it “will not thwart” deliveries of food, water and medicine, as long as the supplies do not reach Hamas. The statement made no mention of badly needed fuel.
It was not clear when the aid would start flowing. Egypt’s Rafah crossing has only a limited capacity, and Egypt says it has been damaged by Israeli airstrikes.
Israel, which controls most crossings into Gaza, says it will not allow deliveries from its territory. It also demanded that international Red Cross be allowed to visit kidnapped Israelis held captive in Gaza.
IRAN ACCUSES U.S. OF COMPLICITY IN ISRAELI ATTACKS ON GAZA
TEHRAN, Iran — President Ebrahim Raisi said Wednesday that Iran will retaliate against Israel for its attacks in the Gaza Strip and accused the United States of complicity.
Addressing a crowd of thousands in central Tehran, Raisi warned of “severe revenge.”
Raisi called Washington an “accomplice” of Israel, saying “the bombs that are falling on the people of Gaza belong to you.”
He said Iran and other Muslim nations are ready to defend the Palestinian people.
PRO-PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS CLASH WITH SECURITY FORCES IN LEBANON
BEIRUT — Hundreds of protesters in support of Gaza clashed with Lebanese security forces Wednesday in a suburb of Beirut near the United States Embassy.
Rioters holding Palestinian flags and flags of Palestinian factions took down a security wall and cut a barbed wire barrier on a road leading to the embassy. Riot police lobbed dozens of teargas canisters and fired water canons to disperse the protesters in the intense standoff.
Several protesters were wounded.
Meanwhile, in another suburb south of Beirut, Hezbollah organized a rally in support of the Palestinians and to slam the U.S. for its ongoing support of Israel.
“The time has perhaps come for the peoples of the region to declare their word in the face of American tyranny,” Senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine said in a speech at the rally.
Hezbollah and Israeli troops continue to clash in a handful of towns along the Lebanon-Israel border.
TURKEY DECLARES 3 DAYS OF MOURNING OVER GAZA HOSPITAL BLAST
ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey has declared three days of national mourning following the blast on a Gaza hospital that killed hundreds of Palestinians, a senior official said.
The period of mourning reflects Turkey’s solidarity with the victims, said Omer Celik, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party.
Celik called the blast one of the worst massacres in modern history.
The hospital explosion caused outrage in Turkey, where thousands of people demonstrated outside Israeli diplomatic missions in Istanbul and Ankara. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.
At least 63 people, including 43 police officers, were injured and five people were arrested in Istanbul, according to officials.
FRANCE SAYS 24 FRENCH CITIZENS DIED IN HAMAS ATTACKS, 7 MISSING
PARIS — France’s death toll from the Hamas assault on Israel has climbed to 24, with seven other French citizens still listed as missing, including several thought to be held hostage in Gaza.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne delivered the latest toll in a briefing to senators Wednesday.
The family of 24-year-old French-Israeli citizen Karin Journo is among those who have recently learned of a loved one’s death. Her sister, Meitav Journo, said the funeral was held Tuesday.
GAZA RESIDENTS LINE UP FOR FUEL
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — A shortage of fuel led to a long line of cars and motorbikes blocking a street outside at a gas station in Khan Younis as motorists and people on foot with containers hoped to fill up.
Men and boys stood in a parallel line holding empty plastic jugs and water bottles as they waited for a turn at the pump.
Palestinians are struggling to survive since Israel cut off supplies of food, electricity, water and fuel to Gaza in retaliation for the attack launched Oct. 7 by Hamas militants. Scarce fuel that can be found can help to run generators and power water pumps.
“Everyone needs fuel to pump water to their homes, to irrigate their farms and to provide water for poultry, cattle and sheep,” said Khalid al-Najjar. “The whole world relies on fuel; it is an essential commodity just like food for us.”
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