Joe Biden travels to Israel on Wednesday, with tensions high after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds of people and prompted Arab leaders to cancel a summit with the US president.
(Bloomberg) — Joe Biden travels to Israel on Wednesday, with tensions high after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds of people and prompted Arab leaders to cancel a summit with the US president.
Hamas and Israel traded accusations over who was to blame for the blast that will complicate US efforts to contain the conflict. Biden said he was “outraged and deeply saddened,” and that he’d asked “my national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened.” Oil rallied.
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.
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Hospital Strike Ratchets Up Tensions (7:30 a.m.)
Hundreds of Palestinians were killed in an explosion at a Gaza City hospital on Tuesday, according to officials in the Hamas-controlled territory. The Gaza Health Ministry said at least 500 people died, and blamed an Israeli airstrike. The Israeli military, however, said that the hospital had been hit in an attempted missile strike by the Gaza-based militant group Islamic Jihad.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates 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.
The explosion risks derailing Biden’s dramatic war-time visit to the region. A proposed summit between the US President, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had been canceled.
Israel Reiterates Calls for Gazans to Move South (7:21 a.m.)
The Israeli 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.
Oil Rallies (4:29 a.m.)
West Texas Intermediate rose above $88 a barrel after the Gaza hospital blast. The global 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.”
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.
Separately, Mark Regev, an adviser to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel is working with international stakeholders to allow civilians to leave the Gaza strip through the Rafah crossing.
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