US President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport
US President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport following a solidarity visit to Israel, on October 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Image Credit: AFP

President Joe Biden was in Israel on Wednesday 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 comes after hundreds of people were reported killed in an explosion at a Gaza Strip hospital a day earlier. The Hamas militant group blamed the blast on an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military blamed a rocket misfired by other Palestinian militants.

Follow the latest developments from the war front:

Protesters clash with Lebanese security forces near US Embassy

Hundreds of protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces in a Beirut suburb near the US Embassy during demonstrations in support of both Gaza's civilian residents and the militant group Hamas in its war with Israel.

The protest in the Aukar neighbourhood came as US President Joe Biden made a show of solidarity with Israel during his visit there Wednesday.

Demonstrators holding Palestinian flags and the flags of various Palestinian factions took down a security wall and cut a barbed wire barrier on a winding road that leads to the US Embassy outside of Beirut.

Riot police lobbed dozens of teargas canisters and fired water canons to disperse the protesters, eventually pushing them back. Several protesters were injured.

Israel will let Egypt deliver some aid to Gaza

Israel said that it will allow Egypt to deliver limited quantities of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, the first crack in a 10-day siege on the territory. The announcement to allow water, food and other supplies came as rage over Tuesday night’s blast at Al Ahli Baptist Hospital spread across the Middle East, and just as US President Joe Biden visited Israel in hopes of preventing a wider conflict in the region.

Biden reassures Israel, addresses Palestinian suffering

US President Joe Biden, wrapping up a rapid trip to Israel on Wednesday to offer assurances following a deadly attack by Hamas, said the United States would do everything it could to ensure the country was safe.

Biden urged Israelis not to be consumed by rage and said the vast majority of Palestinians were not affiliated with Hamas.

The Palestinian people are suffering as well, he said.

In remarks after meeting Israeli leaders, Biden said he would ask Congress for an "unprecedented" aid package this week.

The president made reference to the Nazi Holocaust of World War Two when saying that Israel had the backing of its friends. "We will not stand by and do nothing again. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever," he said.

Israel agrees to let aid into Gaza: Biden

US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that Israel has agreed to allow aid into the impoverished Gaza Strip even as it wages a military campaign in response to Hamas attacks.

"Israel agreed the humanitarian assistance can begin to move from Egypt to Gaza," Biden said on a visit to Israel, adding that the United States was working with partners to get "trucks moving across the border as soon as possible".

US President Joe Biden is welcomed by Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu
US President Joe 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, October 18, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

'Not backing down from the plan to destroy Hamas'

As leaders lined up to condemn a deadly explosion that fueled concerns a humanitarian crisis may be escalating in Gaza, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear the same event had only hardened his resolve.

After hundreds of Palestinians were killed by the blast at a Gaza City hospital Tuesday night, "The objective is clear and remains unchanged "- to dismantle Hamas "- and that is what we are going to do," Ophir Falk, a close aide to Netanyahu, said by phone.

The blast at Al Ahli Baptist Hospital put the Israeli government in tensions with an array of international voices, as Arab leaders cancelled the summit that had been planned with US President Joe Biden in Jordan.

Hundreds protest in West Bank

Palestinian protesters took to the streets in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, blaming Israel for a strike on a hospital in war-torn Gaza that killed hundreds.

Israel has denied blame and said the hospital was hit by an Islamic Jihad rocket that misfired.

Hundreds of protesters in Nablus, many draped in Palestinian flags and some holding Hamas banners, chanted slogans against Israel and its ally the United States.

"Free, free Palestine," chanted the protesters.

Others derided Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whose Fatah movement is Hamas's rival and has been criticised by Palestinians over its collaboration with Israel.

"Down, down with Abbas," they chanted.

Thousands protest in Jordan outside Israel embassy

Around 5,000 Jordanians gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Amman Wednesday to protest the deaths of hundreds of people in a strike on a Gaza hospital they blame on Israel.

Security forces blocked off roads leading to the embassy but the size of the demonstration looked set to swell amid a wave of anger in Jordan, home to many Palestinian refugees.

Despite strong denials from the Israeli army, which has blamed a misdirected Islamic Jihad rocket for the hospital deaths, the Jordanian government has said Israel "bears responsibility for this grave incident".

British Foreign Secretary urges people to 'wait for facts'

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 other Palestinian militants caused the massive explosion. President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that the explosion appeared to not have been caused by Israel.

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.”

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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. “It is imperative once again, that the protection of civilians and adherence to international law is paramount. The rights of children apply all the time to every single child in every circumstance.”

Pope announces prayer for peace

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.

Saying he was thinking of both Palestinians and Israelis, Francis said the situation in Gaza was desperate.

“Silence the weapons. Listen to the cry for peace of the poor, of the people, of children,” he said. “War never resolves any problem. It only sows death and destruction, increases hatred, multiplies vendettas.”

Biden says hospital blast appears to not have been caused by Israel

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

- Joe Biden | US President

“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.

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US President Joe Biden (L) listens on, as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during their meeting in Tel Aviv.

Egypt rejects displacement of Palestinians into Sinai

Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi said on Wednesday that Egyptians would reject the forced displacement of millions of Palestinians into Sinai, adding that any such move would turn the peninsula into a base for attacks against Israel.

The Gaza Strip is effectively under Israeli control and Palestinians could instead be moved to Israel’s Negev desert “till the militants are dealt with”, Al Sissi told a joint news conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The border between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip is the site of the only land crossing from the Palestinian territory that is not controlled by Israel.

Biden lands in Israel, to consult on Gaza war

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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) greets US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport.

President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday, beginning a visit to show solidarity and confer on the spiralling Gaza war, a Reuters correspondent on board Air Force One said.

Descending from the plane amid a large security contingent, Biden embraced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog on the tarmac.

"Welcome, Mr. President. God bless you for protecting the nation of Israel," Herzog's office quoted him as telling Biden.

Blinken calls Abbas to offer condolences

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to offer condolences over a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital and voice support for Palestinians' "legitimate aspirations," the State Department said Wednesday.

Blinken, who was in Amman on a regional tour, spoke late Tuesday by telephone with Abbas "to express profound condolences for the civilian lives lost in the explosion" at the Ahli Arab Hospital, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Rafah border crossing remains shut

No humanitarian aid or people were passing through the Rafah border crossing as of Wednesday morning, an Egyptian official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak with the media.

During an interview with CNN on Tuesday evening, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Rafah was not open due the damage inflicted by numerous Israeli airstrikes on the access roads linking the Egyptian and the Gaza sides of the crossing.

“The Rafah crossing over the last days has been bombed four times,” Shoukry said. “Among them, once when we were trying to repair some of the damage. Four Egyptian workers were injured.”

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Situation in Gaza 'spiralling out of control'

The situation in the Gaza Strip is spiralling out of control, the head of the UN health agency warned on Wednesday, following a blast at a hospital that killed hundreds of people.

"The situation in Gaza is spiralling out of control," the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X, formerly Twitter. "We need violence on all sides to stop."

"Every second we wait to get medical aid in, we lose lives," he added. "We need immediate access to start delivering life-saving supplies."

Gaza's largest hospital will soon run out of fuel

Shifa Hospital, where hundreds of victims of the al-Ahli Hospital blast were taken, will run out of fuel on Wednesday unless more supplies enter the Gaza Strip, the hospital's general director says.

The hospital, Gaza’s largest, is stretched far beyond its capacity following the al-Ahli explosion, Mohammed Abu Selmia said Wednesday, adding that health workers were still treating severely wounded patients.

“They are all in a terrible situation,” he told The Associated Press. “A young woman whose limbs were amputated, a child whose intestines came out, many others have had limb amputations, bleeding in the brain, bleeding in the liver and spleen."

He said earlier that doctors were performing operations on the floor without anesthesia and that a shortage of essential medical supplies was an urgent issue.

If the hospital runs out of fuel, it could be forced into a total shutdown of services, he said, adding that doctors would “remain with the sick and wounded.”

Hezbollah says it hit Israeli tank, inflicting casualties

Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group says its fighters have hit an Israeli Merkava tank with an anti-tank missile, inflicting casualties among the troops.

The group said the attack early Wednesday targeted an Israeli army position across the border from the Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab. The Israeli army said it is checking reports that an anti-tank missile was fired from Lebanon.

Summit 'would not be able to stop war now'

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Israeli soldiers duck as they fire into Gaza from a position outside kibbutz Beeri near the border with the Palestinian strip on October 17, 2023, in the aftermath of an October 7 attack by Palestinian militants. US President Joe Biden will visit Israel on October 18 in a show of "ironclad" support as Washington tries to prevent the escalating war against Hamas in Gaza from spilling over into a wider Middle East conflict. Image Credit: AFP

Jordan canceled a planned summit with President Joe Biden, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II because it “would not be able to stop the war now,” Jordan’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs said.

Ayman Al-Safadi said in a statement on Wednesday that “Jordan will continue to work with everyone so that when this summit is held, it will be able to achieve what is required of it, which is to stop the war, deliver humanitarian support to the people of Gaza, and put an end to this crisis.”

The summit, originally scheduled for later Wednesday, was cancelled after a blast at a Gaza City hospital killed hundreds of people, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. Hamas blamed an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military blamed a rocket misfired by other Palestinian militants.

US raises travel advisory for Lebanon

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Israeli artillery shelling smoke covers Dahaira, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon. Image Credit: AP

The State Department has raised the travel advisory for Lebanon, urging people not to travel to the country “due to the unpredictable security situation related to rocket, missile, and artillery exchanges between Israel and Hizballah or other armed militant factions.”

The advisory issued on Tuesday also urged people to reconsider travel to Lebanon “due to terrorism, civil unrest, armed conflict, crime, kidnapping” and the U.S. Embassy in Beirut’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens. The State Department authorized the voluntary, temporary departure of family members of U.S. government personnel and some non-emergency personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut due to the unpredictable security situation in Lebanon.

The advisory was hiked to Level 4, “Do not travel” — the highest level — from Level 3, “Reconsider travel.”

US Treasury official warns over Hamas funding

A Treasury official said the U.S. IS renewing plans to pursue Hamas funding streams and called on allies and the private sector to do the same or “be prepared to suffer the consequences.”

“We cannot, and we will not, tolerate money flowing through the international system for Hamas’ terrorist activity,” said Brian Nelson, under secretary for terrorism and illicit finance, at an anti-money laundering conference.

“Treasury will bring our tools to bear against Hamas’ financing and the overall funding of terrorism,” he said.

Arab countries at UN demand immediate cease-fire

The 22 Arab countries at the United Nations joined in demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza following the devastating explosion and fire at a Gaza City hospital.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said Arab Group members are “outraged by this massacre” and also united in demanding the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid and preventing “forcible displacement” of Palestinians.

Mansour said that after the “massacre,” the highest objective is a cease-fire because “saving lives is the most important thing.”

Also Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “horrified” at the deaths and “hospitals and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law.”

The Security Council scheduled a Wednesday vote on a draft resolution that currently condemns “the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas” against Israel and all violence against civilians. It also calls for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver desperately needed aid to millions in Gaza.

Biden 'outraged and deeply saddened' by hospital blast

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Rescue personnel work at the scene at Al-Ahli Hospital, after hundreds of Palestinians were killed in a blast at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza. Image Credit: Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden said he is “outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, and the terrible loss of life that resulted.”

Biden said he spoke “immediately” after hearing the news with King Abdullah II of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and “directed my national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened.”

“The United States stands unequivocally for the protection of civilian life during conflict and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocents killed or wounded in this tragedy,” Biden said in a statement issued after he departed for the Middle East.

He is to visit Israel on Wednesday, but a meeting with Arab leaders in Jordan has been postponed following the destruction at the hospital.

Islamic Jihad group denies responsibility for hospital blast

The Palestinain Islamic Jihad group denied Israel's claim that it was behind the deadly blast at Al-Ahli hospital. It accused Israel of “trying hard to evade responsibility for the brutal massacre it committed.”

“The accusations promoted by the enemy are baseless,” Islamic Jihad said, adding that the group “does not use places of worship or public facilities, especially hospitals, as military centers or weapons stores.”

The group said details such as “the angle of the bomb’s fall and the extent of destruction it left behind” confirm it was similar to Israeli strikes.

The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, also denied Israel's claim, calling it “lies.”

4-way summit in Jordan cancelled

Jordan has called off a four-way summit scheduled for Wednesday with U.S. President Joe Biden and other leaders, the country’s foreign minister told state-run television.

Ayman Safadi told al-Mamlaka TV that the war between Israel and Hammas was “pushing the region to the brink” and the summit would be postponed.

After visiting Israel Wednesday, Biden had planned to travel to Amman for the meeting.

The White House said Biden had hoped to use the summit to discuss the bloody Oct. 7 Hamas militant attack on Israel with the United States' Arab allies and the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited autonomy in parts of the occupied West Bank.

Grief, condemnation after hundreds killed at Gaza hospital

Expressions of condemnation and grief are pouring in after hundreds of people were killed in an explosion at a Gaza City hospital that Hamas attributed to an Israeli airstrike but the Israeli military said was caused by a misfired militant rocket.

Countries such as Syria and Saudi Arabia blamed Israel for the blast, with Libya’s Foreign Ministry accusing Israel of “war crimes and genocide” in the Gaza Strip. Iraq declared three days of mourning, and there were protests there and in Lebanon.

Egypt’s President, Abdul-Fattah el-Sissi, condemned what he called Israel’s “deliberate bombing” of Ahli Arab hospital and “a clear violation of international law ... and humanity.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that his country condemns “the attack on the Al Ahli Arabi hospital” and there's no justification for targeting a hospital or civilians.

Richard Peeperkorn, World Health Organization representative for the West Bank and Gaza, expressed “our deepest grief at the horror that has unfolded,” calling it “unprecedented even in a region that has seen consistent attacks on healthcare.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement that it was “shocked and horrified by reports that Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza was destroyed.”

The United Arab Emirates and Russia called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday.

Israel denies involvement in bombing of hospital

The Israeli military says it had no involvement in an explosion that killed hundreds of people at a Gaza City hospital and that the blast was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says an Israeli airstrike caused the blast, which killed some 500 people, many of whom had sought shelter from an ongoing Israeli offensive.

The Israeli military, however, said Palestinian militants fired a barrage of rockets near the hospital.

“Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch,” it said.

Islamic Jihad is a smaller, more radical Palestinian militant group that often cooperates with Hamas in their shared struggle against Israel.

Palestinian official drops out of Biden meeting

A senior Palestinian official says President Mahmoud Abbas has canceled his participation in a meeting scheduled Wednesday with President Joe Biden and other Mideast leaders.

Abbas was scheduled to join Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at Wednesday’s summit in Amman, Jordan, where they are to discuss the Israel-Hamas war with Biden.

But the senior official said Abbas was withdrawing to protest an alleged Israeli airstrike on a hospital in Gaza that health officials say has killed over 500 people.

“The president is very angry after the news of the Israeli massacre at the hospital in Gaza, and he decided to immediately return to Ramallah,” the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the cancelation has not been formally announced.