U.S. President Joe Biden arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday morning, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog. While there was no formal welcoming ceremony, Biden shared warm embraces with both Israeli officials upon his arrival. "Welcome, God bless you for protecting the Israeli nation," Herzog told the U.S. leader upon his arrival.
Following a private meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden said: "I want you to know you are not alone. We will continue to have Israel's back as you work to defend your people."
Netanyahu addressed the blast at a Gaza hospital that left hundreds dead, and that Israel says, with documentation, was caused by an Islamic Jihad rocket. "The entire world was rightfully outraged," he said. "But that outrage should be directed to Hamas." He added that the current conflict will be long and that "this will be a different kind of war, because Hamas is a different kind of enemy."
During Biden's meeting with Israel's war cabinet, rockets were fired from Gaza toward southern Israeli communities, following a prolonged period of tense calm.
Thousands of Palestinians rally in support of Gaza in Ramallah in the West Bank, and demonstrations of thousands also take place in Jordan. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry evacuated the staff of the Israeli embassies in Rahat, Morocco and Cairo, Egypt due to the demonstrations over the situation in Gaza. The evacuation joins the high alert announced in all Israeli embassies around the world, additional security and the transfer of envoys from sensitive countries to safer countries.
Also on Wednesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan spoke at a gathering of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and called for the formation of a Palestinian state.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in Gaza claimed Wednesday afternoon that 471 people were killed in the explosion at Al-Hali Hospital.
Biden and Netanyahu delivered statements before the start of their private meeting. Biden called the courage of the Israeli people "stunning" and appeared to accept Israel's version of the bombing of a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday night, saying it was "done by the other team." Netanyahu thanked Biden for coming, adding: “I have seen your support every day in the breadth and depth of cooperation that we have had since the beginning of this war.”
The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday morning released a video taken by air force operational systems that records the Al-Ahli Hospital area in Gaza before and after the explosion that blew up the hospital and that shows the blast was caused by the failed launch of the Islamic Jihad. The terror organization on Wednesday morning continued to deny that it was responsible.
The White House said that Biden spoke to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah following the explosion at the hospital. Abdullah canceled the scheduled meeting between him, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the president that was scheduled to be held in Amman after Biden's hours-long visit to Israel.
Meanwhile, the IDF called on the residents of the northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City to evacuate to the Al-Mawasi area, which is located in the southwest of the Gaza Strip and to which, if necessary, international humanitarian aid will be directed, and recommended evacuating to the open areas in western Khan Yunis, according to the IDF spokesman.
The IDF said Tuesday night that a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group was the reason behind a deadly blast at a hospital in the Gaza Strip that caused hundreds of casualties.
“An analysis of IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit,” a statement read.
“Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response, "Let the world know: the barbaric terrorists in Gaza are the ones who attacked the Gaza hospital, not the IDF. Those who brutally murdered our children are also murdering their own."
President Isaac Herzog wrote on X, “An Islamic Jihad missile has killed many Palestinians at a Gazan hospital - a place where lives should be saved. Shame on the media who swallow the lies of Hamas and Islamic Jihad - broadcasting a 21st-century blood libel around the globe. Shame on the vile terrorists in Gaza who wilfully spill the blood of the innocent. Never before has the choice been clearer. Israel is standing against an enemy made of pure evil. If you stand for humanity - for the value of all human life - you stand with Israel.” Islamic Jihad denied the allegations.
The Palestinian enclave's health ministry claimed that at least 500 people were killed in a massive explosion at the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in Gaza City's Zeitoun neighborhood.
Hezbollah denounced Israel for the attack, announcing Wednesday "a day of unprecedented anger" against Israel and U.S. President Biden's visit to the country, according to a statement released by the terrorist group late on Tuesday.
While Hamas was quick to accuse the IDF of the deadly blast, Israeli authorities were at first unsure whether the hospital, which had been sheltering thousands of refugees whose homes were destroyed since the beginning of the war, was attacked by Israeli forces and attributed the blast to a misfired rocket launched from Gaza.
Egypt's Foreign Ministry accused Israel of a "deliberate bombing" on the Gaza hospital, where, according to Palestinian claims, hundreds of people were killed. However, the IDF is still investigating whether it might have been a misfired rocket. "Egypt condemns in strongest terms the Israeli bombing of the hospital in the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the death of innocent Palestinians and wounded others in Gaza."
Meanwhile, Hundreds of people protested in Ramallah against Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in response to the deadly explosion, chanting, "The people want to overthrow the leader" for his supposed inaction in the face of Israeli strikes in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Israel's National Security Council issued a warning on Tuesday evening, urging all Israelis in Turkey to leave the country immediately due to heightened terror threats against Israelis overseas. The travel advisory for Turkey has now been raised to its highest level, level 4, while the advisory for Morocco has been increased to level 2.
Heavy rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip targeted central Israel Tuesday evening as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was making a solidarity visit. Meanwhile, sporadic rocket attacks into southern Israel towns and cities persisted through the evening.
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing, claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks toward Tel Aviv, claiming they were a response to the "Zionist massacre of civilians". The group also added that it shelled the northern Israeli city of Haifa with an R-160 rocket although no incoming rocket alarms were triggered.
In a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the German leader emphasized his country's commitment to Israel's security, citing Germany's responsibility for the Holocaust.
At least eight rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the southern city of Sderot, where 85% of the population had been evacuated to safety.
Air raid sirens sounded in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona and neighboring communities along the Lebanon border Tuesday afternoon. The IDF later reported that two rocket launches were detected from Lebanon - one was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, while the second landed in an unpopulated area. The IDF later said that it struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon and intercepted an unmanned aircraft that approached Israel's airspace from Lebanese territory. No alert was activated during the incident.
Earlier Tuesday, two anti-tank missiles, accompanied by gunfire from Lebanon, were directed at military outposts near the border. In response, Israeli forces targeted Hezbollah positions using tank and artillery fire. There were no reported injuries among the IDF personnel in the incident.
In total, the Lebanese terrorist group has fired five anti-tank missiles into Israeli territory since morning hours. One of the missiles targeted a tank in the Israeli border town of Metula, inflicting mild and moderate injuries on three Israeli soldiers, two of them reservists. The organization later released footage of the strike.
The IDF launched a series of retaliatory attacks in Southern Lebanon following the anti-tank missile fire, in which four people were killed, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah is focusing efforts on neutralizing Israel's observation capabilities along the border at several points, according to a report on the Lebanese Al Mayadeen network.
The organization also announced Tuesday afternoon the deaths of two of its operatives, Hussein Abbas Fasa'i and Mahmoud Ahmad Biz, "while fulfilling their jihadist duty," though no specific details about the incident leading to their deaths were provided. Palestinian sources claim that the two were killed in an IDF strike. The group later reported that its operative, Ibrahim Habib Al-Dabak, also died, bringing its total death toll on Tuesday to five.
First published: 17:04, 10.17.23