Mahmoud Abbas, President of Palestine, has said Israel crossed “all red lines” by targeting al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, coining the attack that killed at least 500 people a “hideous war massacre” that cannot be tolerated. He declared that Palestinians would not leave nor allow anyone to expel them from their land, and that any talks that do not aim at stopping the war are unacceptable.
At least 500 people were killed in the bombing, most of whom were women and children. Daniel Hagari, spokesperson for the Israeli army, has denied any responsibility for the attack. “Intelligence from multiple sources we have indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza”, said Hagari. He added that at the time of the strike, Israel was not conducting any aerial operations in the area and that the rockets used were not from their arsenal.
This, however, seems to be a classic misdirection and an attempt to shift the blame after an outpouring of outrage from across the world, including protests outside the UK and France embassies in Tehran. An ally of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad released a statement which outlined that ‘the Zionist enemy is trying hard to evade its responsibility for the brutal massacre’ and dabbling in its usual fabrication of lies by pointing the finger of blame at Palestine. Video evidence released by Israel’s official Twitter handle has since been debunked, with several analysts and experts claiming that the video had been tailored to fit the Zionist propaganda.
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The hospital bombing
According to international law, i.e. the protocols adopted by the Geneva Convention (which Israel has ratified), hospitals are meant to be safe and off-limits to attacks, a principle that was not upheld in Gaza. While at least five hospitals received evacuation warnings from Israel, the al-Ahli Arab Hospital, which is a historic hospital associated with the Anglican Church, did not. With a large number of unidentified bodies, the actual death toll is expected to rise. The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the hospital strike was unprecedented in its magnitude, noting that 115 healthcare facilities in Gaza have come under attack, resulting in the majority of the city’s hospitals being rendered inoperative.
Meeting with President Joe Biden falls through
Mahmoud Abbas was in Jordan at the time of the incident for a four-way meeting with US President Joe Biden, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He pulled out following the attack, post which Jordan announced that the summit had been cancelled. According to a White House official, President Biden is now scheduled to visit only Israel and has postponed his travel to Jordan. Al Jazeera reporter Alan Fischer said that Biden’s purpose of the visit was to act as a broker while showing additional support to Israel, a stance he has been quite vocal about since the initial Hamas attack of October 7. Biden also backs Israel’s stance on the hospital attack.
However, he also claimed that Biden aims to urge Israelis to exercise caution while carrying out their missions, not only to minimise the humanitarian impact but also the risk involved in eroding their global support.
Support from neighbouring countries
Alongside the protests, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi declared a day of public mourning, blaming Israel and its ally US for the attack. Publically expressing his disappointment and anger, he claimed that the flames of the US-Israeli bombs would soon consume the Zionists.
Lebanese group Hezbollah called for a day of rage to condemn the strike, saying “Let tomorrow, Wednesday, be a day of rage against the enemy,” in a statement. They called upon fellow Muslims and Arabs to “move immediately to streets and squares to express intense anger”.