President Joe Biden arrived in Israel Wednesday to reaffirm U.S. support for Israel’s security and to tell his host that a deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza was apparently “done by the other team,” The Associated Press reported.
Arab nations condemned Israel In the early hours after the blast that killed hundreds at the al-Ahli Hospital on Tuesday. Hamas and Palestinian authorities blamed Israel for the explosion, which Hamas says killed 500 people.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco — all of which have recently normalized relations with Israel — issued strong condemnations after the blast, BBC News reported.
Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi described it as a “clear violation of international law.”
By Tuesday evening, Israeli officials had put the blame for the explosion on Hamas, saying it had proof the militant Palestinian Islamic Jihad group had misfired a rocket and hit the hospital.
Hamas countered saying Israel planned and carried out the strike on the hospital.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that it was the “barbaric terrorists in Gaza” that attacked the al-Ahli Hospital.
Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters late Tuesday evening that an initial internal review showed it was a misfired rocket from Gaza, based on footage from Israeli drones and chatter among militants calling it a PIJ misfire, NPR reported.
“We don’t see a direct hit at the hospital, we see kind of a hit in the parking lot but we’re still finishing the investigation of that,” Hagari said before adding that Israel continues to gather intel, including off Al Jazeera live footage and other sources.
Biden didn’t offer details on why he believed the blast was not caused by the Israelis, according to the AP. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said an Israeli airstrike caused the destruction and hundreds of deaths.
Biden, who landed in Tel Aviv, was met by Netanyahu. According to The New York Times, warning sirens sounded in Kissufim, a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip, minutes after Biden landed in the country.
According to the Times, aides told reporters that Biden would press for humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza. The president will also give a speech expressing solidarity with the Israeli people.
Hamas launched an attack on Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7 that left 1,300 people dead. At least 3,000 people have been killed in retaliatory Israeli strikes on Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials.
A Hamas official reportedly claimed yesterday the group would release the civilian hostages it took from Israel during the surprise attack on Oct. 7 if Israel ends its airstrikes in Gaza, NBC reported.
The official also claimed Hamas would release soldiers held hostage if Palestinians held in Israeli jails were released. At least 199 people are being held hostage by Hamas, according to Israel.