Doctors in Gaza City faced with dwindling medical supplies performed surgery on hospital floors, often without anesthesia, in a desperate bid to save badly wounded victims of a massive blast that killed civilians sheltering in a nearby hospital amid Israeli bombings and a blockade of the territory.
The Hamas militant group blamed the blast on an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military blamed a rocket misfired by other Palestinian militants. At least 500 people were killed, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said.
Rage at the hospital carnage spread through the Middle East as U.S. President Joe Biden landed in Israel in hopes of stopping a spread of the war, which started after Hamas militants attacked towns and cities across southern Israel Oct. 7.
Biden embraced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his arrival and later said the blast appeared not to be Israel’s fault. “Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” he told Netanyahu in remarks in front of the media.
Shortly before Biden’s arrival, Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel resumed after a 12-hour lull. Israeli strikes on Gaza also continued on Wednesday, including on cities in south Gaza that Israel had described as “safe zones” for Palestinian civilians.
After the hospital blast, Jordan canceled a meeting between Biden, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Biden will now visit only Israel, a White House official said.
The war between Israel and Hamas was “pushing the region to the brink,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told state-run television.
The Israeli military held a briefing Wednesday morning laying out its case for why it was not responsible for the explosion at the al-Ahli Hospital. It was not firing in the area, Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said.