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Biden Heads to Israel as Blast at Gaza Hospital Kills Hundreds, Escalating Tensions Across the Region

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The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 500 people were killed Tuesday when an airstrike hit a hospital compound in the center of Gaza City. But Israeli officials deny targeting the hospital and say they believe the blast was caused by a rocket from Hamas or Islamic Jihad that fell short and struck the site.

The blast sparked protests in many Arab nations and the West Bank.

News of the deadly explosion came just hours before President Biden departed for Israel for a visit Wednesday to deliver a message of support to a key U.S. ally following Hamas’ terror rampage in southern Israel. Mr. Biden had also planned to meet with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority on a stop in Jordan, but that meeting was canceled in the wake of the hospital tragedy.

Ahead of the president’s visit, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. and Israel had “agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multinational organizations to reach civilians in Gaza,” the small, densely populated Palestinian territory that has been run by Hamas for almost two decades.

Relentless Israeli airstrikes and a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip, imposed by Israel in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, have driven roughly half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents from their homes and created a humanitarian crisis as food, fuel and water all run desperately short.

Palestinian officials say Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has killed about 3,000 people and wounded around 12,500 others, a majority of them women and children. In Israel, officials say Hamas’ terror attack and ongoing rocket attacks have killed some 1,400 people and wounded 3,500 others. Hamas is said to be holding almost 200 hostages.

Thirteen U.S. nationals remain unaccounted for after the Hamas raids in Israel and 31 U.S. citizens have been confirmed killed. As many as 600 U.S. nationals are thought to be among the hundreds of thousands of people trapped in Gaza.

Source: CBS News

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