US President Joe Biden suggested Israel wasn’t responsible for the deadly blast at a Gaza City hospital that killed hundreds and threatened to plunge the region into chaos.
(Bloomberg) — US President Joe Biden suggested Israel wasn’t responsible for the deadly blast at a Gaza City hospital that killed hundreds and threatened to plunge the region into chaos.
“Based on what I’ve seen that appears as though it was done by the other team,” Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after landing in Tel Aviv. The attack will complicate US efforts to contain the conflict. Israel and Hamas — designated a terrorist group by the US and Europe — traded blame for the attack.
Meanwhile, Iran called for an embargo against Israel by Muslim countries. Visiting Beijing, Russian President Vladimir Putin — under international sanctions for the war on Ukraine — said the blast was a sign that the war should end as soon as possible.
Oil Jumps, US Equity Futures Fall (2:20 p.m.)
Crude prices jumped more than 3% and stocks tumbled globally as investors responded to Iran’s call for an oil embargo. S&P 500 futures contracts lost 0.5%, while gold prices rose on haven demand.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. led a slump among airlines after warning of the potential blow to earnings from the suspension of flights to Tel Aviv.
“The risks of an escalation have risen on the back of the latest news reports regarding the hospital bombing,” said Jane Foley, head of foreign-exchange strategy at Rabobank. “On any clear escalation, we can expect to see a ratcheting up of risk aversion.”
Putin Says Conflict Should Be Ended (1:30 p.m.)
The blast at the hospital in Gaza should be a signal for the conflict to be stopped as soon as possible, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Beijing, where he met Chinese President Xi Jinping and attended a forum marking 10 years of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Putin said that after talks with the leaders of five Middle East states this week, he is “under the impression that no one wants to continue the conflict” or for it “to turn it into a large-scale war.”
Putin, who is under international sanctions for Russia’s war on Ukraine, spoke on Monday with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Iran Calls for Oil Embargo Against Israel (12:20 p.m.)
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called for imposing an oil embargo against Israel, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s official Telegram channel.
Speaking ahead of an emergency meeting of Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries over the Israel-Hamas conflict, Amirabdollahian also called on Muslim nations to “fully and immediately boycott” Israel and expel its ambassadors.
Oil prices surged after the comments. Still, Israel is a small importer. And while other Middle Eastern energy producers, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have criticized Israel for its strikes on Gaza, they’ve not talked of halting sales to it or any of its allies.
Biden Meets Netanyahu (11:53 a.m.)
President Joe Biden suggested Israel wasn’t responsible for the blast at a Gaza City hospital. In Tel Aviv, Biden was due to sit with Netanyahu and senior aides before a larger discussion with Israel’s war cabinet to discuss the country’s defense-assistance needs.
“I’m deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital,” Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after landing in Tel Aviv. “And based on what I’ve seen that appears as though it was done by the other team.”
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were among countries to blame Israel for causing the blast, 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 air strike. 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.
Protests broke out in several major cities around the region.
Higher UK Domestic Terror Threat (12:00 p.m.)
The head of Britain’s domestic spy agency warned the current conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories increases the nation’s terror risk, as he singled out Iran as a cause for concern.
“There clearly is the possibility that profound events in the Middle East will either generate more volume of UK threat and/or change its shape in terms of what is being targeted, in terms of how people are taking inspiration,” Ken McCallum, MI5 director general, told media in the US on Wednesday. His office confirmed the remarks.
Egypt Rejects Attempt to Move Palestinians (10:20 a.m.)
Moving Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula could lead to that territory being used as a base for operations against Israel, Egypt’s El-Sisi said Wednesday. At a joint press conference with Germany’s chancellor, El-Sisi suggested Palestinians could be relocated to Israel’s Negev Desert until the end of the fighting.
Germany’s Scholz said his country and Egypt are “united in their goal of preventing a conflagration in the Middle East” and reiterated a warning to Iran and Hezbollah that it would be a “grave mistake” for them to intervene.
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 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.
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