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Hundreds feared dead at Gaza hospital as Israel denies strike

From BBC

With updates from Rushdi Abualouf in Gaza; Lyse Doucet, Lucy Williamson and Nick Beake in southern Israel; Jeremy Bowen, Yolande Knell, Tom Bateman and Joel Gunter in Jerusalem; Anna Foster in northern Israel; and Hugo Bachega in southern Lebanon


  1. Hundreds of Palestinians are feared dead after a huge blast at a hospital in Gaza City, blamed by the Hamas group on an Israeli air strike
  2. Israel says the blast was caused by rockets misfired by another group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and both sides deny blame
  3. US President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday but a planned summit in Jordan with Arab leaders has been cancelled
  4. At least 600,000 Palestinians have fled the northern Gaza Strip for the south since Israeli military warnings
  5. Israel has blocked essential supplies to Gaza in retaliation for a Hamas attack on 7 October that left 1,300 Israelis dead

Protests outside US embassy in Beirut

Reuters Copyright: Reuters

Protesters enraged by the Gaza hospital blast have gathered outside the US embassy in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, and have set a large fire. 

Pictures on social media show that protesters have raised a Palestinian flag on the walls of the US compound in Aukar, a northern suburb of Beirut. 

Tear gas has been fired at the crowd in order to get them to disperse, Reuters reported. 

Meanwhile, a small crowd has also gathered outside the French embassy and are reportedly throwing rocks at the building.

Earlier, Hezbollah, the militant group that controls southern Lebanon and fought a war with Israel in 2006, released a statement condemning the deaths of civilians at the Al Ahli hospital.

It also called for “a day of unprecedented anger” to be held on Wednesday.

Protesters clash with Lebanese security forces on outside the US embassy during a demonstration in solidarity with the people of GazaImage caption: Protesters clash with Lebanese security forces on outside the US embassy during a demonstration in solidarity with the people of Ga

9:10 17 Oct

Israel is sharing information on blast with US – official

Mark Regev, a former Israeli ambassador to the UK and now an advisor to Netanyahu, has told CNN that Israel has shared the information they had on the blast with US officials. 

Speaking earlier today with the BBC’s Radio 4 World Tonight programme, he said Israeli intelligence indicates the blast at the Al Ahli hospital was caused by a rocket from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group that fell short of its target.

The group, which he described as “Hamas’s younger brother”, has denied that was the case. 

Regev says that Islamic Jihad failed to hit Israeli territory in previous rounds of fighting.

Asked by BBC presenter James Coomarasamy if Israel believes this was an “accident”, he said: “Well, yes, they didn’t intend to kill their own people quite possibly. But the truth is, if you’ve got such a high rate of missiles falling short, in your own territory, you could accuse them of being negligent terrorists.”

“Though I wouldn’t be flippant about the loss of human life that’s been incurred,” he continued.

18:51 17 Oct

UN secretary general condemns civilian deaths at hospital

We’re continuing to get international reaction to the deadly hospital blast.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has condemned the strike on the Al Ahli hospital, tweeting:” “I am horrified by the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians.”

He “strongly condemned” it, adding that “hospitals, clinics, medical personnel, and UN premises are explicitly protected under international law”.

In his statement, Guterres also extended “sincere condolences” to the six people who were killed in an attack at a UN school in the Al Maghazi refugee camp earlier on Tuesday.

18:42 17 Oct

Listen: The Gaza Hospital Strike

In this emergency Newscast episode recorded tonight in Israel, BBC International Correspondent Lyse Doucet and Middle East correspondent Anna Foster grapple with the breaking news about the huge blast at a hospital in Gaza City

They look into the claims and counter claims as protests break out across the region.

You can listen to it in full here.

8:25 17 Oct

More on cancelled Jordan summit

There is more information coming out on Jordan’s reason for cancelling the summit between President Biden and Arab leaders that was meant to take place tomorrow in Amman.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said they would meet at a time when the parties could agree to end the “war and the massacres against Palestinians”, blaming Israel for pushing the region to “the brink of the abyss”.

This comes in the wake of the hospital explosion that both Israel and Hamas deny responsibility for.

President Biden was briefed by his national security team about the hospital blast, the White House said, and also spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan and with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. 

“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,” the US president said.

8:08 17 Oct

Young Palestinian woman flees south – but won’t leave homeland

Hassan Al-Hasani

BBC News

UGCCopyright: UGCR Rahaf pictured while sheltering at the Al-Quds hospit

Previously, we brought you a personal account from Rahaf, a young Palestinian woman who has made the arduous journey to Khan Younis in southern Gaza with her family.

The BBC has been keeping in touch with her. Having finally reached Khan Younis, we asked Rahaf if she and her family planned to try to cross the (currently closed) Rafah crossing in order seek refuge in Egypt. 

Rahaf says while she and her family “all don’t know what will come to us,” she is “confident that I won’t leave my house (homeland) and repeat the 1948 Nakba.”

The Nakba (or Catastrophe) refers to when more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes in the conflicts surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.

On 14 May 1948, Israel declared independence, and in a war which began the next day, up to 750,000 Palestinians who had lived on that land fled or were expelled from their homes. Neither they nor their descendants have been allowed by Israel to return.

17:55 17 Oct

Hospital blast ‘a horror show’ – Anglican church leader

One of the Anglican Church’s leading figures in Jerusalem has called the huge blast at a hospital in Gaza City “an unmitigated disaster”.

Hundreds of people are feared dead after the blast at the Al Ahli hospital, which is fully funded by the Anglican Church.

“It is absolute horror show which is unfolding,” Canon Richard Sewell, dean of St George’s College, told BBC Radio 4’s World Tonight programme.

“I have no way of proving who did it, that will transpire in time. 

“But we deal with the tragedy, we deal with the disaster and the recriminations will have to run their course.”

He said the international community “needs to learn the lessons and to see exactly the nature of the disaster that is unfolding”.

“There is also no justification for this type of attack, accidental or deliberate.”

Hamas have blamed an Israeli air strike for causing the explosion at the Al Ahli hospital. Israel denied its military was involved and said the blast was caused by rockets fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The militants have also denied blame.

17:34 17 Oct

Israel has crossed all red lines – Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is now giving a speech. 

He begins by calling the blast at the Al Ahli hospital a “hideous war massacre”. 

Israel has “crossed all red lines”, he adds. 

Israel denied its military was involved and said the blast was caused by rockets fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. 

The militants have also denied blame.

17:14 17 Oct

Red lights flashing in Middle East – and Biden flying into it

Jeremy Bowen

International Editor, reporting from southern Israel

On all fronts now – the humanitarian situation in Gaza; the military situation between Israel and Gaza, the political situation across the region – things are escalating very quickly and this is a very volatile and difficult time. 

Everything is showing as critical – red lights are flashing all over the Middle East – and Biden is flying into the heart of all of this.

And the fact that the Arabs felt so comfortable about cancelling their meeting with the president is also revealing. 

That is a reflection of the gravity of the situation here, but also of the waning power of America. 

A few years ago I don’t think they would have dared to deliver what is effectively a great big snub to the President of the United States.

Posted at 17:09 17 Oct17:09 17 Oct

Biden postpones visit to Jordan – White House

President Biden will postpone his travel to Jordan and a planned meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and President Sisi of Egypt, the White House says.

“The president sent his deepest condolences for the innocent lives lost in the hospital explosion in Gaza, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded,” it said in a statement. 

“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.”

Biden will still visit Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

6:42 17 Oct

BREAKINGJordan cancels summit with Biden

Jordan’s foreign minister has just said the country is pulling out of a planned summit with US President Joe Biden. 

The summit was to be held in Amman and was to included Biden as well as Egyptian, Palestinian and Jordanian officials.

“There is no use in talking now about anything except stopping the war,” said Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. 

Earlier today Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also cancelled his meeting with Biden.

The US leader is currently on his way to the Middle East, where he is also expected to meet with Israeli officials.

16:30 17 Oct

What’s been happening?

Hundreds of people are feared dead after a huge explosion at a hospital in Gaza City where Palestinians injured in the Israel-Hamas war were being treated, while others were seeking safety after days of Israeli air strikes.

  • The Hamas-led authorities in Gaza say 500 people died in the explosion at the Al Ahli hospital. Hamas blamed Israel, which in turn blamed Palestinian militants (who too deflected the blame)
  • The BBC spoke with an unnamed doctor who was working at the hospital – which is funded by the Anglican Church – when the explosion occurred, and who said there was total devastation, and that hundreds were killed or injured
  • Hamas said an Israeli air strike on the hospital was to blame, describing it as a “war crime”, while Israel denied its military was involved and said the explosion was caused by rockets fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad
  • Islamic Jihad, the second biggest militant group in the Gaza Strip, has denied responsibility
  • The incident came not long after the UN said a school sheltering thousands of people in central Gaza was also hit, killing at least six people
  • There were also protests in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallahon Tuesday night, with demonstrators opposed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas clashing with security forces who responded by firing tear gas 
  • The dramatic day of developments comes ahead of a visit to the Middle East by US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, which will include a trip to Israel

16:20 17 Oct

Red Cross ‘shocked and horrified’ by hospital strike

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it is “shocked and horrified” by reports of the huge blast at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza.

“Hospitals should be sanctuaries to preserve human life, not scenes of death and destruction,” the ICRC said in a statement.

“No patient should be killed in a hospital bed. No doctors should lose their lives while trying to save others. Hospitals must be protected under international humanitarian law.”

Hamas have blamed an Israeli air strike for causing the explosion.

But Israel denied its military was involved and said the blast was caused by rockets fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The militants have also denied blame.

16:09 17 Oct

Middle Eastern states react to hospital blast in Gaza

Here’s how neighbouring countries have reacted to the Gaza hospital blast – with Arab states and Iran blaming Israel:

  • Egypt’s President Sisi said he condemned “in the strongest of terms Israel’s bombardment”, calling it a “clear violation of international law”.
  • Iran’s foreign ministry – alleging the blast was the result of an Israeli air strike – said “unarmed and defenceless people” were killed and injured
  • The Syrian presidency called it “one of the most heinous and bloodiest massacres against humanity”; words echoed by Saudi Arabia, which called it a “heinous crime”
  • Jordan’s King Abdullah described it as a “war crime”
  • And the UAE has, jointly with Russia, called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday morning

Israel has denied it was to blame saying the blast was caused by a rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants – although that group said it was not responsible.

BBC News is attempting to verify what happened at the facility on Tuesday.

15:57 17 Oct

Israeli prime minister says ‘barbaric terrorists’ behind hospital blast

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying “barbaric terrorists” are responsible for the blast at the hospital in Gaza.

He rejects Hamas’s claims that the Israel Defense Force carried out the strike.

The BBC is working to verify what happened at the location on Tuesday evening.

15:44 17 Oct

Hamas leader blames US for hospital blast

Ismail Haniyeh, who is widely considered to be Hamas’s overall leader, says that the US is responsible for the attack on Al Ahli hospital – stressing that Washington gave Israel the “cover for its aggression”.

“The hospital massacre confirms the enemy’s brutality and the extent of his feeling of defeat,” said Haniyeh in a televised address.

He is calling on all Palestinian people “to get out and confront the occupation and the settlers” and for all Arabs, and Muslims to stage protests against Israel.

For much more on this story and video go to: BBC

See also “Israel says it won’t block aid reaching Gaza from Egypt” From BBC


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