Live Updates | Cease-Fire Pleas and Israel-Hamas Recriminations Rise in Wake of Gaza Hospital Blast
President Joe Biden is in Israel on an urgent mission to keep the Israel-Hamas war from spiraling into a broader regional conflict and to encourage the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.
The president’s visit on Wednesday came after hundreds of people were reported killed in an explosion at a Gaza Strip hospital the night before. The Hamas militant group blamed the blast on an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military blamed a rocket misfired by members of another Palestinian militant group.
The war that began Oct. 7 has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said Wednesday that 3,478 Palestinians have been killed and more than 12,000 injured in the past 11 days.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, and at least 199 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.
1. Doctors in Gaza City performed surgery on floors, often without anesthesia, in a desperate bid to save wounded victims of a massive blast that killed civilians sheltering in a hospital. Video that The Associated Press confirmed was from the hospital showed the grounds strewn with torn bodies, blankets and school backpacks.
2. Rage at the hospital carnage spread through the Middle East. Protesters hurled stones at Palestinian security forces in the occupied West Bank and at riot police in neighboring Jordan, venting fury at their own leaders for failing to protect Palestinians. The leaders of Egypt and Jordan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called off a planned summit with Biden,
3. The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution about the fighting between Hamas and Israel, but negotiations on the wording were still underway.
4. Israel says at least 199 people taken during the Hamas attack are being held captive in Gaza. They range from babies to the elderly. Most are civilians. Some of their families received frantic phone calls or texts during the attack. Others heard nothing and later saw video evidence their loved ones were taken.
Here’s what’s happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
EGYPTIAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINIANS
CAIRO — Thousands of students rallied at Egyptian universities to condemn Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza. The pro-Palestinian demonstrations took place in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities.
Videos posted on social media showed scores of mostly student protesters marching in the city of Fayoum, roughly 60 miles, or 100 kilometers, from Cairo and chating, “With our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice for you, Al-Aqsa.”
The Al-Aqsa mosque sits on a hilltop in Jerusalem’s contested old city. The mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam and stands in a spot known to Jews as the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism.
A Tuesday night explosion at a Gaza City hospital also triggered protests in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry blamed the blast on Israel, while the Israeli military said it resulted from a misfired rocket launched by Palestinian militants.
Dozens of aid workers waiting on the Egyptian side of the Egypt-Gaza Rafah crossing point held a symbolic funeral for the Palestinians who were killed in the hospital explosion. Wearing black T-shirts, they said they were holding a sit-in until Israel allows the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, according to a local rights group, Sinai for Human Rights.
HEZBOLLAH MILITANTS KILLED NEAR LEBANON-ISRAEL BORDER
BEIRUT — A Hezbollah spokesperson says the Lebanese Red Cross has collected the remains of four of the group’s militants.
An AP photojournalist saw three three body bags and a bag of remains transferred from the Lebanese Red Cross to Hezbollah’s Islamic Health Unit at Hiram Hospital, which is near southern Lebanon’s city of Tyre.
The Hezbollah spokesperson said the bodies belonged to militants who were pronounced dead Tuesday. He did not provide details of how they died.
The Lebanese Red Cross had said it was on its way to Lebanon’s tense southern border with Israel to collect the bodies.
The Israeli military said Tuesday that its forces killed four militants who were allegedly carrying an explosive device and suspected of attempting a cross-border operation.
DEATH TOLL FROM GAZA HOSPITAL EXPLOSION UNCLEAR
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry revised the death toll from an explosion at a Gaza City hospital down from 500 to 471 on Wednesday but did not elaborate on how authorities reached that figure.
Staff members at al-Ahli Hospital said they could not gauge the toll because the blast had dismembered so many bodies. Hospital director Suhaila Tarazi and Episcopal Church officials that run al-Ahli could only estimate that the toll was “in the hundreds” and refrained from giving an exact number.
Mohammed Abu Selmia, general director of Shifa Hospital where all the wounded and dead were transferred following the explosion, told The Associated Press early Wednesday he believed the death toll was closer to 250, with hundreds more wounded.
SURVIVOR RECOUNTS FRIENDS ‘TORN TO PIECES’ BY BLAST AT GAZA HOSPITAL
A displaced Gaza resident says he was wounded and not killed by a blast at a hospital because he had gone to fetch coffee for a group of men with whom he’d been sitting on a staircase.
“When I returned, they were torn to pieces,” Mohammed al-Hayek, wearing a head cloth covering one injured eye, said. The blood of his relatives and friends splattered the stone walls, he said.
He and his family, including several cousins, had gone to the hospital from the Zeytoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City, thinking it would be a safe place to find refuge.
“No one knows anyone,” al-Hayek said, referring to the difficulty of identifying the victims. “They became pieces, all of those poor people, civilian citizens.”
UK LEADER URGES LAWMAKERS NOT TO ‘RUSH TO JUDGEMENT’ ON HOSPITAL BLAST
LONDON — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says U.K. intelligence services are “rapidly analyzing the evidence to independently establish the facts” behind the devastating explosion at a Gaza hospital.
Sunak urged lawmakers in the House of Commons not to “rush to judgment” about the blast at the al-Ahli hospital, which Hamas blames on Israel and Israel blames on Palestinian militants.
Calling it an “awful situation,” Sunak said: “Every member will know that the words we say here have an impact beyond this House.”
He added: “The Israeli president has made it very clear that their armed forces will operate in accordance with international law, and we will continue to urge the Israelis to take every precaution to avoid harming civilians.”
BISHOP SAYS STAFF FAILED TO HEED WARNINGS TO EVACUATE CHURCH-RUN HOSPITAL
JERUSALEM — The Anglican bishop of Jerusalem said a Gaza City hospital run by the Episcopal Church had received at least three Israeli military orders to evacuate that staff members refused to heed before a lethal Tuesday night explosion.
The Israeli army delivered the warnings by phone beginning Sunday after Israeli shelling hit two floors of the al-Ahli Hospital hospital, Bishop Hosam Naoum said.
Naoum refused to assign blame for the blast, and urged the public to focus on the wider destruction and deaths unfolding in Gaza. “As people of the cloth, we are not military experts,” he said. “We just want to let people see what is happening on the ground and hope that people will come to the conclusion that we’ve had enough of this war.”
Naoum said the blast at the hospital also ripped through a church at the center of a courtyard where Palestinians had taken refuge. He said the casualties were “in the hundreds” based on reports he heard from local staff.
PALESTINIAN DIPLOMAT ACCUSES ISRAEL OF INTENTIONALLY BOMBING GAZA HOSPITAL
BEIRUT — Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki accused Israel of “intentionally” bombing a hospital in Gaza and said the strip’s residents are being subjected to genocide.
Malki, who spoke in Saudi Arabia during a Wednesday meeting of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, alleged the Israeli military had attacked the same hospital two days earlier and warned doctors there.
He added that he thinks the international community is allowing Israel to kill under the “slogan of self-defense.”
Malki asserted that Israeli bombing has killed 1,300 children in the Gaza Strip in past 11 days. Israel’s military retaliated after Hamas militants broke through a border fence and killed more than 1,400 people in the country, according to Israeli authorities.
RED CROSS SAYS IT HAS 60 TONS OF AID READY FOR GAZA DELIVERY WHEN IT’S SAFE
GENEVA — The International Committee of the Red Cross said it has mobilized a convoy carrying 60 tons of aid, including medical supplies, for deployment into Gaza, but it needs safe access to deliver them.
“The recent violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory is at a level that the ICRC has not witnessed in many years,” the Geneva-based humanitarian organization said in a statement Wednesday.
EGYPT’S PRESIDENT DECLARES NATIONAL MOURNING FOR VICTIMS OF GAZA HOSPITAL BLAST
CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi declared three days of national mourning for those killed in the blast at al-Ahli Hospital and other Palestinians killed in the ongoing Hamas-Israel war. In a statement on social media, El-Sissi blamed Israel for a deadly blast at a Gaza City hospital. The Hamas-led Health Ministry in Gaza says the blast killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians, many of whom were sheltering from Israeli airstrikes at the hospital.
GAZA HOSPITAL DIRECTOR MAKES URGENT APPEAL FOR WAR TO END
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The director of al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza made an urgent and emotional appeal for an end to the latest Hamas-Israel war after a devastating blast there Tuesday night.
Speaking to The Associated Press by phone, Suhaila Tarazi said the grisly scenes she encountered in the aftermath of the explosion were “unlike anything I have ever seen or could ever imagine.” She was not at the hospital at at the time of the Tuesday night blast but described body parts of children strewn everywhere in the hospital and the courtyard.
“Our hospital is a place of love and reconciliation,” Tarazi said. “We are all losers in this war. And it must end.”
Tarazi declined to comment directly on the death toll reported by the Hamas-run Health Ministry of at least 500 victims. “It could be more, it could be less. There are so many body parts that no one can really tell.”
HAMAS SPOKESPERSON PRAISES CANCELLATION OF BIDEN SUMMIT
BEIRUT — A spokesperson for Hamas in Lebanon praised the decision to cancel a summit in Jordan between Arab governments and U.S. President Joe Biden following a deadly hospital blast in Gaza.
Biden was supposed to meet with Jordanian, Egyptian, and Palestinian leaders on Wednesday in Amman in hopes of resolving the ongoing Gaza-Israel war.
Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan called for an immediate cease-fire, a humanitarian corridor into the blockaded Gaza Strip and the continuation of mass regional protests that took place after Tuesday night’s blast at the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City.
He also called for Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Israel to “rise up against the Zionist enemy and clash with it in all cities, villages, and camps.”
ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE DESTROYS A BAKERY AT A GAZA REFUGEE CAMP
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Fierce Israeli airstrikes hit houses in Gaza City and the southern border town of Rafah. Near the port, survivors said an Israeli airstrike hit a three-story building belonging to the Haboush family, killing 40 people and wounding 25.
In the central Gaza Strip, an airstrike hit a bakery at the Nuseirat refugee camp and ignited a massive fire that killed four bakers, witnesses told a journalist for the AP. Dozens of other bakeries across Gaza were forced to shut down due to a lack of water and electricity.
Supermarkets have dwindling supplies and are unable to restock because wholesalers cannot navigate the territory’s ravaged infrastructure to make deliveries.
The World Food Program has warned that Gaza’s population is at “the risk of starvation” if 310 tons of food aid languishing at the Gaza-Egypt Rafah crossing are not urgently let through.
IRAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR OIL EMBARGO AGAINST ISRAEL
JERUSALEM — Iran’s top diplomat is calling on Muslim nations to expel their Israeli ambassadors and launch an oil embargo on Israel after an explosion at a hospital in the Gaza Strip.
The comments Wednesday by Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian mark the first time an oil embargo has been discussed as Israel wages war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip after its unprecedented Oct. 7 attack.
“We expect the Islamic countries that have diplomatic relations with the Zionist regime to cut off their relations immediately and expel the Israeli ambassador from their country,” Amirabdollahian said in a clip aired by state television in Iran. “Secondly, the export of oil to the country of Israel and any project that exists between any Islamic state and Israel must be stopped immediately.”
There was no immediate acknowledgment of the call by Israel, nor any other nation.
BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY URGES PEOPLE TO ‘WAIT FOR FACTS’ ON HOSPITAL BLAST
LONDON — British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has urged people to “wait for the facts” about what caused the explosion at al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza.
The U.K. government has not formally attributed blame for the blast, which Hamas said was caused by an Israeli airstrike. The Israeli military said a rocket misfired by Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad caused the massive explosion.
Cleverly wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Last night, too many jumped to conclusions around the tragic loss of life at Al Ahli hospital. Getting this wrong would put even more lives at risk. Wait for the facts, report them clearly and accurately. Cool heads must prevail.”
SAVE THE CHILDREN CALLS FOR HUMANITARIAN CORRIDOR
As people in Gaza continue to suffer from dire shortages of water, food, electricity and fuel, aid organizations are pleading for a humanitarian corridor to allow for the entry of urgently needed supplies.
Jason Lee, Save the Children’s country director for the Palestinian territory, told The Associated Press that until that happens humanitarian agencies will be unable to deliver life-saving and essential assistance — and that time is running out.
“We have no visibility in our offices, on warehouses, the facilities that we have because we have all been told to move south,” he said. Despite this, some Save the Children staff are still delivering what services they can.
POPE FRANCIS ANNOUNCES PRAYER FOR PEACE IN ST. PETER’S SQUARE
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has announced an evening prayer service in St. Peter’s Square next week to pray for peace as he begged for an end to the Israeli-Hamas conflict and the unfolding “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.
Francis announced the day of fasting and prayer Oct. 27 during his weekly general audience Wednesday. He urged all Christians and believers of other faiths to join in with local initiatives, while he presides over an evening hour of prayer in the Vatican.
Francis begged for all sides to do whatever is possible to prevent the war from spreading and to avoid a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, where a blast Tuesday at a hospital killed hundreds.
“Silence the weapons. Listen to the cry for peace of the poor, of the people, of children,” he said.
BIDEN SAYS HOSPITAL BLAST IN GAZA APPEARS TO NOT HAVE BEEN CAUSED BY ISRAEL
TEL AVIV — President Joe Biden says that an explosion that killed hundreds in a Gaza Strip hospital appears to not have been caused by Israel.
“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” Biden said Wednesday during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But Biden said there were “a lot of people out there” who weren’t sure what caused the blast.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said an Israeli airstrike caused the destruction. The Israeli military denied involvement and blamed a misfired rocket from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group. However, that organization also rejected responsibility.
EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS CALLS TO MOVE PALESTINIANS TO SINAI PENINSULA
CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi says his country rejects what he calls efforts to force Palestinians in Gaza to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, warning that such an effort would jeopardize his country’s peace with Israel.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, el-Sissi said Wednesday that his government views Israel’s siege on Gaza as a scheme to expel the Palestinians to Egypt.
“We are rejecting the liquidation of the Palestinian cause and the explosion of Palestinians to Sinai,” the Egyptian leader said, adding that Sinai would be turned into a launching ground for “terrorist attacks” against Israel, which would in turn blame Egypt for such attacks.
He proposed that Israel move the Palestinians to Negev in Israel until it ends “its announced mission” of destroying Palestinian militant groups.
GERMAN SYNAGOGUE ATTACKED WITH MOLOTOV COCKTAILS, POLICE SAY
BERLIN — A Berlin synagogue has been attacked with Molotov cocktails, police in Germany say. It comes as antisemitic incidents in the German capital have been rising following the violent escalation in the Middle East.
The Kahal Adass Jisroel community said its synagogue in the city’s Mitte neighborhood was attacked early Wednesday with two incendiary devices. The complex in the center of Berlin houses a synagogue, a kindergarten and a community center.
Police also said there were clashes overnight between Muslim immigrants and police in the city’s Neukoelln and Kreuzberg neighborhoods and at Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate.
ISRAELI MILITARY LAYS OUT INTELLIGENCE ON HOSPITAL EXPLOSION
JERUSALEM — An Israeli military spokesman said Israel crosschecked intelligence that proved a failed Islamic Jihad rocket launch caused a deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital.
Had it been an Israeli strike, “we would have seen craters and structural damage to the building, both of which haven’t been identified,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said.
Most of the damage was caused by propellant in the rocket and not by the warhead, he said. Propellant remained because the launch failed and the rocket didn’t travel as far as intended, he said.
According to Israeli intelligence reports, Islamic Jihad fired about 10 rockets from a nearby cemetery at 6:59 p.m. Tuesday, and there were reports of an explosion at the hospital at that time, Hagari said.