Hundreds killed in blast at Palestinian hospital
Hundreds of people were killed by an explosion at a hospital in Gaza City where thousands of civilians had been sheltering last night, local officials said, a devastating loss of life that ignited protests against Israel and the U.S. across the Arab world. The Health Ministry in Gaza said the number of casualties was expected to rise.
Photographs and videos showed bloodied and charred bodies strewn across the courtyard of the Ahli Arab Hospital. Blankets, backpacks and mattresses lay nearby, traces of families who had come to seek refuge at the hospital after their homes had been destroyed.
Palestinian officials said the blast was caused by an Israeli airstrike. Israeli officials said the explosion was the result of a failed rocket attack by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group aligned with Hamas, which a spokesman for the group denied. The Times could not verify either claim.
Context: The deadly explosion came as conditions in Gaza grew ever more desperate. Food, fuel and water supplies are dwindling fast. Israel said yesterday that it had intensified its bombing in the southern cities of Khan Younis and Rafah. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has killed 2,800 people and wounded 10,000 others, Palestinian officials said, and Israel’s orders to evacuate northern Gaza have displaced at least 600,000, according to the U.N.
Rising anger: Aid and human rights groups have stepped up criticism of Israel’s bombing campaign and evacuation orders which are taking an ever deadlier toll on civilians.
First person: “I can’t describe what I saw. I swear to God — I witnessed the killing of my family, but I couldn’t even handle what I saw today,” Ali Jadallah, a longtime war photographer, said of the hospital blast. “I can’t handle what is happening.”
President Biden will not attend summit in Jordan
President Biden is set to land today in Israel, in a politically and personally treacherous trip in the midst of an ever-worsening war. His visit had been intended to deter Iran and its proxy forces in the region and prevent the conflict from expanding beyond Israel and Hamas.
But the trip, which also was meant to show solidarity with Israel and urge it to avoid civilian casualties, has already hit hurdles: White House officials yesterday said that a planned summit in Jordan, during which Biden planned to stress to Middle Eastern leaders the risks of the crisis expanding beyond Gaza, had been canceled.
Officials said the decision to cancel the Jordan meeting was “made in a mutual way” between Biden and King Abdullah II of Jordan after Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, said that he wanted to cut his own trip to Jordan short to return home.
Quotable: Biden said that he was “outraged and deeply saddened” by the devastating blast that struck the Ahli Arab Hospital just hours before he left Washington. “The U.S. stands unequivocally for the protection of civilian life during conflict,” he said, “and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocents killed or wounded in this tragedy.”
Analysis: “The timing and optics of such a significant visit couldn’t be any worse,” said Charles Lister, the director of counterterrorism at the Middle East Institute. “Whatever the circumstances behind this strike at the hospital in Gaza, it doesn’t really matter at this point. The tensions have been inflamed beyond anything we’ve seen over the last week.”
Ukraine uses long-range missiles against Russia
Ukraine’s forces struck Russian air bases using powerful American-made long-range missiles, after President Biden overcame his longstanding reluctance to providing the weapons. It represented a shift by the U.S. at a time when the Ukrainian military is struggling in a counteroffensive in the country’s south and east.
Here’s the back story on how Biden decided to reverse course and give the missiles to Ukraine.
Related: Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, the leaders of Russia and China, will meet in Beijing this week. They are expected to demonstrate the strength of their “no limits” partnership in challenging the Western-dominated global order.
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