US President Joe Biden landed in Israel on Wednesday, hours after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds and threatened to plunge the region into chaos. The blast drew condemnation from Arab governments — who blamed Israel — and will complicate US efforts to contain the conflict.
(Bloomberg) — US President Joe Biden landed in Israel on Wednesday, hours after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds and threatened to plunge the region into chaos. The blast drew condemnation from Arab governments — who blamed Israel — and will complicate US efforts to contain the conflict.
Israel said it has evidence that the blast was the result of a failed attack by Islamic Jihad. Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the US and Europe, blamed an Israeli airstrike. Gold and oil rose, while stocks slipped.
Earlier, Biden had said he was “outraged and deeply saddened,” and that he’d asked “my national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened.”
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Biden Lands in Israel (10:50 a.m.)
President Joe Biden arrived Wednesday in Tel Aviv, seeking to salvage his high-stakes diplomatic endeavor after a deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital threatened to plunge the Middle East into chaos.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the UAE were among countries to condemn the attack and blame Israel for it, and a summit between Biden, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was canceled.
The Gaza Health Ministry said at least 500 people were killed in the explosion, which it blamed on an Israeli airstrike. The Israeli military said the hospital had been hit in an attempted missile strike by the Gaza-based militant group Islamic Jihad, while the Pentagon said it didn’t immediately have information about who was responsible.
Israel Blames Islamic Jihad (10:03 a.m.)
Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari said Israel has evidence that Tuesday’s hospital blast that killed hundreds of people in Gaza was the result of a failed attack by Islamic Jihad.
Islamic Jihad fired about 10 missiles starting from 6:59 p.m. local time, shortly before the blast at the Gaza hospital, Hagari said at a press briefing in Tel Aviv. Hagari said Israel has also intercepted calls between Islamic Jihad members that prove the existence of a failed missile launch by the group.
Israel Continues to Strike Targets in Gaza (9:16 a.m.)
Over the past day, Israeli jets targeted Hamas operational command centers and military infrastructure and the strikes have killed two Hamas commanders, the IDF said.
Shekel Steady, Oil Rises (8:25 a.m.)
The shekel was steady in early trade, following losses of more than 4% since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Late on Tuesday, the Bank of Israel underscored the urgency of stabilizing the shekel following its slide to an eight-year low, shifting expectations among economists and traders who bet on a big interest-rate cut as soon as next week.
In global markets, investors sought the safety of gold, which jumped to the highest level in four weeks, while crude oil rose above $88 a barrel. The oil market has been rocked by the crisis and traders are on alert in case the fighting spreads beyond Gaza, potentially embroiling Iran — which supports Hamas.
A wider conflict could endanger crude flows, further tightening what was an already-stretched oil market following months of OPEC+ supply cuts. Iran has already warned of the scope for escalation, saying earlier this week that such an outcome was becoming “inevitable.”
US Says Thwarts Drone Attack on Troops in Iraq (8:10 a.m.)
The US military thwarted an attack targeting its forces in Iraq early on Wednesday, intercepting two drones before they could strike, Reuters reported, citing two unidentified US officials. Officials declined to say who was behind the attack.
The drones were intercepted as they attempted to strike Iraq’s al Asad air base, which hosts American troops.
Israel Reiterates Calls for Gazans to Move South (7:21 a.m.)
The Israel Defence Force ordered Gaza residents to move to the humanitarian zone in the Al-Mawasi area, where international aid will be directed in case needed. The IDF reiterated its call for residents of the northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City to move to the Al-Mawasi area, located south of the Gaza Valley.
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