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U.S. Pledges Military Support to Israel as Protests Erupt Across Mideast Over Hospital Blast, Israeli Attacks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday met with U.S. President Joe Biden in Israel, where they agreed on “unprecedented” U.S. military assistance to Israel in its ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In a broadcast statement, Netanyahu said that he and Biden, who arrived in the morning for a brief visit to Israel, agreed on “actions and cooperation that guarantees the continuation of our just war.”

Biden, who travelled back to Washington in the afternoon after a pre-scheduled four-way Arab summit in Jordan was canceled, said during his brief stay that Pentagon intelligence indicates that the blast on the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital on Tuesday was caused by “the other team” and not an Israeli airstrike. The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) said Israeli airstrikes caused the explosion in the hospital that killed at least 471.

Israel released intercepted communications between two Hamas operatives discussing how the hospital was struck by a failed rocket fire.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesman Daniel Hagari presented the audio recording during a press briefing, denying Israeli responsibility for the blast and accusing the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) of a failed rocket launch.

In the audio, two individuals can be heard conversing in Arabic over a phone call. During the conversation, one person informs the other that the explosion resulted from a rocket misfire by the PIJ, an armed group in Gaza.

According to Hagari, the failed rocket, carrying an ignited propellant load, was fired from near the hospital.

He also presented aerial photos and infrared images of the explosion’s location, collected by the Israeli military. “Analysis of our aerial footage confirms that there was no direct hit on the hospital itself,” he said.

According to Hagari, since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, militants in Gaza carried out 450 failed rocket launches.

Israel’s wartime cabinet announced on Wednesday it will allow a limited humanitarian aid to enter Gaza through Egypt’s border. Netanyahu’s office announced in a statement that “Israel will not obstruct humanitarian supplies from Egypt as long as they consist of only food, water, and medicine for the civilians located in the southern Gaza Strip,” warning “any supplies that reach Hamas will be thwarted.”

In addition, the cabinet stated that Israel demands to allow visits by the Red Cross to the hostages held by Hamas.

Hamas on Oct. 7 showered Israel with thousands of rockets in a rare surprise attack, to which Israel responded with massive airstrikes on Gaza and punitive measures, including a siege on the enclave with supplies of water, electricity, fuel, and other necessities being cut off.

Over the past few days, tons of aid supplies from Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Türkiye, and the World Health Organization have arrived at the Rafah border crossing, waiting for access to the Palestinian coastal enclave from the Egyptian side.

Earlier on Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi expressed Egypt’s firm support for the Palestinian people and a strong rejection of any attempts to relocate them to Egypt’s adjacent Sinai Peninsula.

Meanwhile, violence along the Israeli-Lebanese border has continued to escalate on Wednesday. The Israeli military said that militants in Lebanon launched rockets and anti-tank missiles at Israeli communities near the border. The Israeli military responded with fire toward the origins of the shootings, the military said in a statement, adding that an Israeli military drone thwarted “a terrorist cell which fired mortar shells toward the area of Turmus.”

Following the hospital blast, thousands of Egyptians on Wednesday held demonstrations in the capital Cairo and other provinces to show their solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Protests also took place in Iran, Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia to condemn Israel’s attacks on Gaza. Lebanese and Palestinian demonstrators clashed with security forces near the U.S. embassy in Awkar, north of Beirut, resulting in several injuries.

The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, now in its twelfth day, has killed more than 4,000 people on both sides. 

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