Israel Latest: Biden to Visit as Oil Climbs After Hospital Blast

President Joe Biden travels to Israel with tensions high after an explosion at a Gaza hospital killed hundreds of people. Oil rallied following the blast and Arab leaders canceled a planned summit with Biden on Wednesday, complicating his push to contain a conflict that threatens to engulf the region.

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden travels to Israel with tensions high after an explosion at a Gaza hospital killed hundreds of people. Oil rallied following the blast and Arab leaders canceled a planned summit with Biden on Wednesday, complicating his push to contain a conflict that threatens to engulf the region.

Biden said he was “outraged and deeply saddened” by the explosion and added that he had asked “my national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened.” Hamas and Israel’s army traded accusations over who was to blame. 

Hamas — designated a terrorist group by the US and Europe — called it the result of an Israeli airstrike, while Israel’s army said the hospital was struck in a failed missile attack by Palestinian militants. Anti-Israel protests broke out in several major cities around the region.

For more on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.

Oil Rallies as Hospital Blast Ratchets Up Tensions (4:29 a.m.)

West Texas Intermediate rose above $88 a barrel after a deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital boosted tensions in the Middle East before President Joe Biden’s arrival in the region. Oil swung by more than $2 on Tuesday.

The global oil market has been rocked by the crisis. 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 of the conflict, saying earlier this week that such an outcome was becoming “inevitable.” 

Biden Scraps Trip to Jordan (1:25 a.m.)

The decision to scrap Biden’s trip to Jordan was made after consulting with King Abdullah II of Jordan and in light of the days of mourning that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced following an explosion at a Gaza hospital that killed hundreds of people, according to a White House official.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi announced earlier Tuesday said the proposed summit between Biden, Abdullah, Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had been canceled, saying the decision was taken by mutual consent after reports that more than 500 people were killed in the blast at a hospital in Gaza.

Hundreds Killed in Gaza Hospital Strike (11:30 p.m.)

The Gaza Health Ministry said that at least 200 people had died in the hospital bombing. Officials from the ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory told Al Jazeera television that the toll is 500, which would make it the deadliest attack since the Oct. 7 Hamas assault on Israel. 

The Israeli military said the hospital was hit in an attempted missile strike by a Gaza-based militant group. “The Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed launch that hit the hospital,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, citing intelligence from several sources. Turkey and Egypt were among countries to condemn the attack and blame Israel for it. The Pentagon said it didn’t immediately have information about who was responsible. 

US Says It Doesn’t Have ‘All the Facts’ on Gaza Hospital (10:15 p.m.)

The US doesn’t have “all the facts” about what happened at the Gaza hospital where officials in the Hamas-controlled territory say hundreds were killed by an Israeli airstrike, said Pentagon Deputy Spokeswoman Sabrina Singh. 

“I don’t know who was responsible,” Singh told reporters. “As we learn more, that will inform conversations.” She said that the US expects Israel, like other allies or partners, “to uphold the law of war.” 

Egypt, Turkey Condemn Hospital Strike in Gaza (9:45 p.m.)

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemned what it said was an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza hospital as a violation of international law, and called on Israel to halt strikes near the border between Gaza and Egypt. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also condemned the strike and called for action to “stop Israel’s unprecedented brutality in Gaza.” 

Gaza Officials Say Hundreds Killed in Airstrike on Hospital (8:15 p.m.)

Hundreds of Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit a Gaza City hospital, according to officials in the Hamas-controlled territory, in what would make it the deadliest bombing since Oct. 7. Israeli officials said they could not immediately confirm that the hospital was hit by an air strike.

Officials at the Gaza Health Ministry said at least 200 people were killed, and a spokesman for the ministry told Al Jazeera the casualty toll may be 500.

The Anglican-run Al-Ahli Arab Hospital was housing thousands of displaced Palestinians who fled the Israeli bombing in east Gaza City. Hamas said it fired a long-range rocket toward Israel’s north in response to the bombing at Al-Ahli hospital.

UN Chief Guterres Heads to Egypt for Aid Talks (7:30 p.m.)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to Egypt to meet senior leaders as the world body looks to get vital supplies into the Gaza Strip. “In order to move humanitarian aid through Gaza, we need safe passage,” his spokesman said. “That will be part of the secretary-general’s discussions.”

The UN Security Council late Monday rejected a draft resolution led by Russia, which would have called for a cease-fire and the release of hostages, but was criticized for failing to clearly condemn Hamas. Five of 15 council members voted for the proposal. 

Israel May Get Debt Rating Cut By Fitch on Conflict (7:15 p.m.)

Israel’s issuer rating for long-term debt was placed on Rating Watch Negative by Fitch, signaling a possible cut in the nation’s A+ credit grade.

Fitch said it’s unlikely that “a relatively short conflict largely confined to Gaza” will affect Israel’s rating, but it cited heightened risks of a wider or more prolonged war that could result in “significant additional military spending” as well as damage to infrastructure, putting pressure on credit metrics.

US Puts 2,000 Troops on Alert, Extends Carrier Deployment (6:50 p.m.)

The US put 2,000 troops on heightened alert and extended the deployment of an aircraft carrier in the Middle East, the Pentagon said, as it builds forces in the region in what officials say is a bid to deter other countries from widening the war.

The US also is sending an amphibious task force of more than 4,000 sailors and Marines toward Israel, where they’ll be positioned aboard warships in case the conflict with Hamas expands, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The growing US presence in the eastern Mediterranean will include two aircraft carriers and their escort ships. 

Scholz Pledges ‘Unwavering Support’ During Tel Aviv Visit (6:30 p.m.)

Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated Germany’s unwavering support for Israel at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following talks in Tel Aviv.

Scholz said the two leaders had discussed “improved humanitarian access” to Gaza and pledged that his government would work “to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population.” The German leader will travel on to Egypt for a meeting with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Wednesday.

Israel in Talks With Musk’s Starlink (4:37 p.m.)

Israel said on Tuesday it’s in talks with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to set up a Starlink satellite network to bolster wartime communications ahead of an expected ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.

The Communications Ministry said the network would allow Israeli towns near the frontlines to have continuous internet service. Israel is also weighing a possible cut-off of all internet and phone services in Gaza, the spokesman said.

Israel Says Working to Allow Civilian Exit Through Rafah (11:28 a.m.)

Mark Regev, an adviser to Netanyahu, said Israel is working with international stakeholders to allow civilians to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing that connects the territory with Egypt. He didn’t elaborate on whether all civilians would be allows out or only foreign nationals.

The opening of Rafah “was supposed to happen yesterday. We worked with relevant parties to make that happen yesterday. But unfortunately, Hamas prevented that from happening and they closed their side of the closing,” Regev told Bloomberg Radio. 

Aid Trucks Held Up Near Egypt-Gaza Crossing (10:19 a.m.)

A convoy of humanitarian aid is still unable to enter Gaza, Khaled Zayed, chairman of the Red Crescent in Egypt’s North Sinai, told Al-Arabiya. The TV channel aired footage of dozens of trucks backed up near the Rafah border.

Mark Regev earlier told Times Radio in the UK that the crossing will open to allow foreign nationals to leave, with Israel seeking guarantees incoming aid won’t be commandeered to support Hamas.

Israel Strikes in South Gaza, AP Says (8:50 a.m.)

Palestinians said there’d been heavy Israeli bombing in southern Gaza, the part of the besieged territory where Israel had told civilians to seek refuge, the Associated Press reported.

Israeli bombs struck sites west and southeast of Khan Younis and west of Rafah, the crossing to Egypt where thousands of people have massed to try and get out of Gaza, the agency said, citing local reports.

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