Biden backs Israel over Gaza hospital blast; Israel says it will not prevent Gaza aid from Egypt

Israel says it will not prevent aid from entering Gaza through Egypt following a crippling days-long siege on the Palestinian territory that has cut off vital supplies. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement the decision was made in light of a request from President Biden, who visited Israel Wednesday.

The aid from Egypt must only be food, water and medicine for civilians in Gaza’s south and will be allowed as long as supplies don’t go to Hamas, which governs Gaza, Netanyahu’s office said. Israel said it won’t allow aid into Gaza through its own border as long as Hamas is holding hostages

It is unclear when much-needed aid would enter the territory through the Rafah crossing, which is the only official passage between Egypt and Gaza. Mr. Biden said in remarks from Tel Aviv Wednesday that the U.S. was working in close cooperation with regional partners to get trucks moving across “as soon as possible.”

The announcements came a day after a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital that officials in the Hamas-run territory said had killed at least 500 people. Mr. Biden has backed Israel’s firm denial of responsibility for the explosion, saying U.S. military data led him to conclude it was a Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike, that caused it.

The blast in Gaza City — which Palestinian leaders and neighboring Arab nations quickly blamed on Israel — severely complicated what was already a challenging diplomatic mission for Mr. Biden amid escalating tension in the region and fears the Israel and Hamas conflict could spread.

U.S. President Biden visits Israel amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas
President Biden is welcomed by Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu as he visits Israel amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 18, 2023.


Officials in Gaza say Israel’s bombardment of the Palestinian enclave since Hamas attacked Israeli civilians and soldiers on Oct. 7 has killed almost 3,500 people and wounded more than 12,000 others, a majority of them women and children.

In Israel, officials say Hamas’ attack killed some 1,400 people and wounded 3,500 others. Hamas is said to be holding almost 200 hostages, and 13 U.S. nationals remain unaccounted for.

In Tel Aviv Wednesday, Mr. Biden lamented the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and vowed that the world would “not stand by again and do nothing,” as he said it had done when Jews were slaughtered in the Holocaust.

He also said there was “no higher priority” for him than securing the release of the hostages held by Hamas.


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