US President Joe Bidensaid on Wednesday that Washington would provide Israel with everything it needed to defend itself as it wages war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Biden, who landed in Israel and met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu early on Wednesday, said Hamas was worse than the Islamic State group for its killings of Israeli civilians in a surprise attack on October 7 which sparked the latest Israel-Palestinian violence.Follow our live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
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11:01am: Biden backs Israel account of Gaza hospital strike, denounces Hamas
US President Joe Biden on a solidarity visit to Israel Wednesday backed the ally’s account that Palestinian militants caused a devastating hospital strike in Gaza, adding Hamas had brought “only suffering.”
“I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday. And based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team,” Biden said as he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.
10:12am: Biden arrives on solidarity visit to Israel
US President Joe Biden landed in Israel Wednesday on a solidarity visit following Hamas attacks, under the shadow of a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital that has inflamed regional tensions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally welcomed Biden on the tarmac, putting his arms around the US president who then clasped his hands around Netanyahu in a sign of the newfound bond between the two leaders.
Under unusually tight security even for the US president, Biden and Netanyahu chatted briefly on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport surrounded by their guards before their motorcades set off for a Tel Aviv hotel where they will hold talks.
Hundreds of armed police and troops were stationed around the seafront Tel Aviv hotel where Netanyahu and Biden will meet, with armed snipers on the roofs of nearby villas.
10:05am: Gaza aid stuck in Egypt as Cairo blames Israel
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry rejected as “inaccurate” claims that Egypt had kept the only border crossing with Gaza not controlled by Israel closed.
“As far as we’re concerned, the Rafah crossing on our side is officially open,” Shoukry told the BBC on Tuesday.
He said aid lorries were awaiting guarantees of “safe conditions” after the crossing was “subjected to four aerial bombardments that have made the crossing inaccessible”.
In a separate interview with CNN, Shoukry said one of the strikes came as “we were trying to repair damage, and four Egyptian workers were injured”.
Gaza has nearly run out of electricity, food, water and fuel, after 12 days of siege and air and artillery bombardment by Israel. FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Cairo, Egypt, Eduard Cousin said in Eygpt, “they want to allow aid to go into Gaza, but they don’t want [to let] a large number of Palestinian refugees into Egypt”.
9:51am: Israel says has ‘evidence’ militants to blame for Gaza hospital blast
The Israeli army said Wednesday it had “evidence” that militants were responsible for the blast that killed hundreds at a Gaza hospital, saying a review proved others were at fault.
“The evidence – which we are sharing with you all – confirms that the explosion at the hospital in Gaza was caused by an Islamic Jihad rocket that misfired,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari told a press conference in Tel Aviv.
The comments came after an explosion at a Gaza hospital compound on Tuesday evening killed at least 200 people, according to health officials in the enclave, sparking protests across the Middle East and wide-ranging condemnation.
“There was no IDF (Israeli army) fire by land, sea or air that hit the hospital,” Hagari said.
“Our radar system tracked missiles fired by terrorists in Gaza at the time of the explosion and the trajectory analysis of the rockets shows the rockets were fired in close proximity to the hospital.”
9:27am: Blinken calls Abbas to offer condolences for hospital deaths
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to offer condolences over a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital and voice support for Palestinians’ “legitimate aspirations”, the State Department said Wednesday.
Blinken, who was in Amman on a regional tour, spoke late Tuesday by telephone with Abbas “to express profound condolences for the civilian lives lost in the explosion” at the Ahli Arab Hospital, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
9:25am: Situation in Gaza ‘spiralling out of control’, says WHO chief
The situation in the Gaza Strip is spiralling out of control, the head of the UN health agency warned on Wednesday, following a blast at a hospital that killed hundreds of people.
“The situation in #Gaza is spiralling out of control,” the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X, formerly Twitter. “We need violence on all sides to stop.”
“Every second we wait to get medical aid in, we lose lives,” he added. “We need immediate access to start delivering life-saving supplies.”
9:00am: Scholz ‘horrified’ by Gaza hospital strike, urges ‘thorough’ probe
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday called for a comprehensive investigation of a strike on a Gaza hospital compound which health officials in the impoverished enclave said killed at least 200 people.
“I am horrified by the images of the explosion in a hospital in Gaza. Innocent civilians were injured and killed,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “A thorough investigation of the incident is imperative.”
8:59am: Fury in Beirut as Gaza hospital blast kills hundreds
“The atmosphere in Beirut is very tense, especially after what happend at the hospital in Gaza,” said FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Beirut, Rawad Taha. “Overnight we saw a number of protests targeting the US Embassy, the UNS headquarters, […] the French Embassy, all condeming what has been happening in Gaza”.
Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement on Tuesday called for a “day of rage” to condemn the strike and specifically, for a “protest that should take place this afternoon at 2pm, in Beirut’s southern suburb in Dahiya, where Hezbollah’s headquarters are”.
8:38am: Biden will be plunging into Middle East turmoil on his visit to Israel
US President Joe Biden will touch down in Israel on Wednesday in a diplomatic scramble to prevent the war with Hamas from spiraling into an even larger conflict, a challenge that became more difficult as outrage swept through the Middle East over an explosion that killed hundreds in a Gaza Strip hospital.
Biden was originally scheduled to visit Jordan as well, but his meetings with Arab leaders were called off as he was leaving Washington, costing him an opportunity for the face-to-face conversations that he views as crucial for navigating this fraught moment.
With his trip cut short, Biden will now meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet, first responders, victims’ and hostages’ families as well as President Isaac Herzog.
8:09am: In Gaza, ‘nowhere is safe’
“The Ahli hospital in Gaza City was sheltering thousands of people,” said FRANCE 24’s Andrew Hilliar, reporting from Deir Hanna in northern Israel. “The reality is that in Gaza, especially in the northern part of the territory – nowhere is safe for people and there could still be many more bodies under the rubble.”
7:39am: Russia says Israel should provide evidence it didn’t strike Gaza hospital
Russia‘s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that a strike on a hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds of Palestinians was a shocking crime, adding that Israel should provide satellite images to prove that it was not involved in the attack.
Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Radio Sputnik that the attack was a shocking “dehumanising” crime.
7:14am: Rescuers still pulling bodies from the rubble of Gaza hospital
Al Jazeera carried footage showing a frantic scene as rescue workers scoured blood-stained debris for survivors. Rescuers and civilians were shown carrying away at least four victims in body bags. A Gaza civil defence chief gave a death toll of 300, while health ministry sources put it at 500.
5:50am: Guterres says Hamas attacks do not justify ‘collective punishment’ of Palestinians
The Hamas attacks on October 7 “cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”, Guterres told delegates at a forum of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative in Beijing.
He also called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.
“I call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to … ease the epic human suffering we are witnessing,” Guterres said at the same event.
5:45am: US issues ‘do not travel’ advisory for Lebanon
The US State Department on Tuesday raised its travel alert for Lebanon to “do not travel,” citing the security situation related to rocket, missile, and artillery exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah.
The State Department authorised the voluntary, temporary departure of family members of US government personnel and some non-emergency personnel from the US Embassy in Beirut because of the unpredictable security situation in Lebanon.
For tens of thousands of families in Gaza, hospitals became a refuge from seemingly endless Israeli shelling. Then came the strike Tuesday night on Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza, which the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory said killed at least 500 people.
Residents who have been told to flee the north of the Palestinian territory had packed the courtyards and corridors of the territory’s overwhelmed hospitals in the belief they were a safe haven from the Israeli bombardments. Read more here.
3:41am: Hundreds protest in Libya over hospital air strike
Several hundred people protested in Tripoli and other Libyan cities late Tuesday over the deadly strike on a Gaza hospital, according to AFP journalists.
In Tripoli, hundreds of demonstrators of all ages, brandishing Palestinian flags and some covering their faces with Palestinian keffiyehs, crisscrossed the streets of the city centre before converging on Martyrs’ Square.
They chanted slogans of support for the residents of Gaza and denounced the strike by the “Zionist enemy”. “We give our blood and our souls for Gaza,” they chanted in Tripoli and similarly in Misrata, a city 200 kilometres west of the capital.
3:03am: Biden heads to Middle East despite cancelled summit with Arab leaders
1:38am: Islamic Jihad denies Israeli accusations, calling them ‘lies’
Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad on Wednesday described as “lies” the Israel army’s accusations that it was responsible for a strike on a Gaza hospital that left hundreds dead.
“The Zionist enemy is trying hard to evade its responsibility for the brutal massacre he committed by bombing the Baptist Arab National Hospital in Gaza through his usual fabrication of lies, and through pointing the finger of blame at the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine,” it said in a statement.
“We therefore affirm that the accusations put forward by the enemy are false and baseless,” it added.
1:18am: Biden ‘outraged’, calls on national security team to determine what happened
Biden had “directed my national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened”, he added in a statement
1:13am: UN chief ‘horrified’ by Gaza air strike
“My heart is with the families of the victims. Hospitals and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law,” Guterres said in the message on X, formerly Twitter.
12:55am: Angry protests in front of French, British embassies in Tehran
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the British and French embassies in Tehran in the early hours of Wednesday, an AFP correspondent said, as regional anger grows over a deadly strike on a Gaza hospital.
“Death to France and England,” protesters shouted, throwing eggs at the walls of the French embassy compound in the Iranian capital.
12:07am: Biden summit with Arab leaders canceled after Gaza air strike
Biden decided after “consulting” with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and “in light of the days of mourning” announced by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who was due at the summit along with Egypt‘s president, the White House said in a statement.
“The president sent his deepest condolences for the innocent lives lost in the hospital explosion in Gaza, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded,” the statement added.
12:03am: France’s Macron says ‘nothing can justify’ targeting civilians
French President Emmanuel Macron said “nothing can justify targeting civilians” after a deadly strike on a Gaza hospital and called for humanitarian access to the coastal strip “without delay”.
“Nothing can justify a strike against a hospital. Nothing can justify targeting civilians. France condemns the attack on the Al-Ahli Arabi hospital in Gaza which caused so many Palestinian victims. We think of them,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip must be opened without delay.”
Key developments from Tuesday, October 17:
An air strike on the Ahli hospital in Gaza City has left at least 500 people dead, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)
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