Israel denied its involvement and blamed a rocket of Islamic Jihad for the carnage. However, international media outlets and growing video evidence suggested that it was an Israeli missile that targeted the hospital where. several hundred Palestinians besides patients had taken refuge from bombing. Hospitals are protected from attacks during wartime under First Geneva Convention. However, the United Nations says Israel continues to target its facility, including dozens of UN run schools in Gaza. At least six students died in one such attack on Tuesday.
The attack invited global condemnation and massive protests in several countries against Israel, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Iran, UAE, France and the. US.
Biden said, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he was “outraged and deeply saddened” by the attack on Al-Ahdi Arab Hospital, but did not criticize Israel.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “horrified” by the deadly strike on a hospital in Gaza, he said in a social media post Tuesday.
“Saudi Arabia categorically rejects this brutal attack, which is a flagrant violation of all international laws and norms, including international humanitarian law,” the foreign ministry said.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi issued a statement on Tuesday, saying: “I condemn in the strongest of terms Israel’s bombardment” on a hospital in Gaza, and calling it a “clear violation of intl law.”
Biden was scheduled to meet Jordanian Monarch King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and Palestinian Authority president Mehmood Abbas to discuss the situation. However, Jordan, and PA cancelled the meeting. The White House later announced the meeting was cancelled “after mutual consultations.
King Abdullah said Israel’s bombing of the Gaza hospital was a “massacre” and a “war crime” that one cannot be silent about.
The situation complicated Biden’s mission who embarked on his unprecedented visit to Israel to show support to the Jewish state. However, he found himself in a changed geopolitical environment which risked turning into a regional conflict.
Biden’s presence on Israeli soil would mean higher expectations from him in times of extreme crisis. Will he succeed in opening the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza and let the relief goods reach Palestinians in Gaza is still not clear. Gazans are under siege with Israel cutting off water, fuel, food and electricity supplies, setting off a humanitarian crisis that the United Nations is calling “catastrophic”. Biden has not issued a call for a ceasefire since war broke out after October 7 attack by Hamas militants.
If President Biden fails to win any major announcements from Israel, it will land him in a more serious challenging situation where the US would risk losing its status as an honest peace broker.