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Joe Biden's Israel visit: 'I'm outraged, deeply saddened by explosion at hospital in Gaza', says US President

US President Joe Biden in Israel: Biden was originally scheduled to visit Jordan as well, but his meetings with Arab leaders were called off as he was leaving Washington, costing him an opportunity for the face-to-face conversations that he views as crucial for navigating this fraught moment.

Ajeet Kumar Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Washington Updated on: October 18, 2023 11:24 IST
US President Joe Biden as he departs for Israel amid deadly attack on hospital in Gaza.
Image Source : AP US President Joe Biden as he departs for Israel amid deadly attack on a hospital in Gaza.

Israel-Hamas War: US President Joe Biden on Tuesday left for a quick trip to Israel to show solidarity with the people of the country in the aftermath of the deadliest terrorist attack by Hamas militants. But, Biden had to abruptly scrap his trip to Jordan for a meeting with leaders of Jordan, Egypt and Palestine after the Palestinian Authority cancelled the summit following a huge explosion at a hospital in Gaza.

Blame game continues 

Hundreds of civilians are feared dead after a deadly blast at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza. Israel has denied its involvement in the bombing, while the Palestinians have held it responsible.

“I am outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, and the terrible loss of life that resulted. Immediately upon hearing this news, I spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and have directed my national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened,” Biden said in a statement minutes before he boarded Air Force One for Israel.

“The United States stands unequivocally for the protection of civilian life during conflict and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocents killed or wounded in this tragedy,” Biden said.

Biden's Jordan Summit cancelled 

In a statement, the White House said after consulting with King Abdullah II of Jordan and in light of the days of mourning announced by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Biden will postpone his travel to Jordan and the planned meeting with these two leaders and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt.

“The President (Biden) sent his deepest condolences for the innocent lives lost in the hospital explosion in Gaza and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded. He looks forward to consulting in person with these leaders soon, and agreed to remain regularly and directly engaged with each of them over the coming days,” said a White House official.

Following reports of the huge toll due to the Gaza hospital blast, Biden was briefed by his national security team, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer.

“The President spoke by phone with Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who is still in the region. The President also spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan and with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The President continues to receive regular updates,” said the official.

Biden has been backing Israeli calls for eliminating Hamas following the attacks carried out by it on Israel on October 7 in which more than 1,300 people were killed and between 200 and 250 Israelis are said to have been taken to Gaza as hostages.

US broker deal to let humanitarian aid move into Gaza 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, bouncing back and forth between Arab and Israeli leadership ahead of Biden's visit, spent seven and a half hours meeting on Monday in Tel Aviv in an effort to broker some kind of aid agreement and emerged with a green light to develop a plan on how aid can enter Gaza and be distributed to civilians.

“We're optimistic that we'll be able to get some humanitarian assistance in," State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said.

Although only a modest accomplishment on the surface, US officials stressed that Blinken's talks led to a significant change in Israel's position going in — that Gaza would remain cut off from fuel, electricity, water and other essential supplies.

US officials said it has become clear that already limited Arab tolerance of Israel's military operations would evaporate entirely if conditions in Gaza worsened.

Their analysis projected that outright condemnation of Israel by Arab leaders would not only be a boon to Hamas but would likely encourage Iran to step up its anti-Israel activity, adding to fears that a regional conflagration might erupt, according to four officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss internal administration thinking.

(With inputs from agencies)

Also Read: Israel-Hamas war: Tel Aviv denies involvement in Gaza hospital blast, Biden-led Jordan Summit cancelled


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