Biden in Tel Aviv: Gaza hospital bombing not Israel’s doing

United States President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday to meet with officials amid a global outrage after the massacre of hundreds in a bombing of a hospital in Gaza, as the enclave faces an intense Israeli shelling and a life-crippling blockade.

While Israel and Palestinian militant groups have blamed each other for the carnage on Tuesday, Biden, upon landing in Tel Aviv, stated that he believed the Israeli military was not responsible for the hospital bombing.

“It appears that it was done by the other team, not you, but some people are not sure,” Biden said, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Air Force One, the presidential plane, landed in Tel Aviv around 10:55 a.m., where Biden received a warm welcome from Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

Initially, Biden had planned to visit Jordan as well, but he canceled the trip after Arab leaders called off a meeting following the hospital bombing.

The summit was to include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The meeting was supposed to address the escalating conflict in the Middle East, which has claimed thousands of lives over the past 11 days.

According to Palestinian health sources, the bombing at the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza caused at least 500 deaths.

Palestinians have blamed the Israeli military airstrikes for the bombing. Israel disputes the claim, saying that the hospital building remains intact and that the damage was limited to a minor explosion in the parking lot, caused by a rocket of the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad group.

Biden condemned the incident and reaffirmed his support for Israel. “I want to say to the people of Israel. Their courage, their commitment, their bravery, is stunning, it is really stunning. I am proud to be here.”

Due to security concerns, Biden’s visit to Israel is expected to be brief, lasting only a few hours. He will leave the region later in the day.

Following Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct.7, which resulted in significant Israeli casualties, the US has consistently affirmed its strong support for Israel’s right to self-defense.

The war, now in its 12th day, has left more than 3,000 dead and 12,500 injured in the Gaza Strip, with over 1,400 Israelis having lost their lives and more than 4,200 injured.

In addition, at least 61 Palestinians, including 16 children, have died in the West Bank since the current wave of hostilities began, according to the UN. Most of these deaths in the West Bank occurred during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians.

However, Israeli settlers killed five Palestinians, including a minor, in two attacks in Nablus, as reported by the UN.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Israeli Army said that it had killed two Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip. Since the start of the war, Israel has claimed to have eliminated at least 10 senior Hamas commanders.

Israel maintains that its bombing of Gaza was targeted to eliminate elite Hamas commandos accused of orchestrating the multi-pronged attack that triggered the war.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga