The White House said Wednesday that its current intelligence assessment is that Israel was “not responsible” for the deadly strike on Gaza’s al-Ahli Hospital that killed 471 people on Tuesday.
According to an Oct. 18 The Washington Post article, the statement came after President Biden visited Israel and said U.S. defense officials presented him classified “data” suggesting the strike did not originate from Israel but rather from “the other team.”
Biden did not provide further specifics on the nature of the intelligence or how U.S. agencies reached their conclusion. Earlier during his trip, he embraced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and remarked that the data indicated “it was done by the other team, not you.” Palestinian authorities have firmly blamed Israel for carrying out the devastating strike.
The al-Ahli hospital bombing has raised grave international concern over a potential escalation
The al-Ahli hospital bombing has raised grave international concern over a potential escalation, with U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths saying the perpetrator has “a hell of a lot to answer for.” On Wednesday, Biden was initially set to meet with Netanyahu and the leaders of Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority to discuss de-escalating the raging conflict. However, the regional summit was abruptly canceled following the strike and the uncertainty around who was responsible.
During his closely-watched visit to Israel, President Biden announced an “unprecedented” aid package that includes $100 million in new humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The deal also facilitates the delivery of urgent humanitarian aid into Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, which had recently closed off as tensions soared.
The situation on the ground in Gaza is growing increasingly dire, as damaged electricity infrastructure has caused rolling blackouts and left most residents with only limited access to electricity, water, and other basic services due to an ongoing Israeli blockade. Hospitals are struggling to cope with the overwhelming number of wounded.
The rising death toll reflects the intensity of the fighting since violence erupted earlier this month. In Israel, at least 1,400 people have been killed and over 4,500 injured since October 7, when the militant group Hamas unleashed an unprecedented barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Hamas said the attack was in response to clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in Jerusalem.
In Gaza, health officials say 3,478 Palestinians have now died, and more than 12,500 have been wounded in the ensuing Israeli air campaign against Hamas and other armed groups. Hamas is also believed to be holding between 200 to 250 hostages, according to estimates from a spokesman for Hamas’s military wing.
The U.S. State Department has warned Americans not to travel to neighboring Lebanon, given the potential for wider regional escalation of the conflict. At least 31 U.S. nationals are dead, with 13 still unaccounted for in Gaza and Israel.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!