Update(1820ET): As expected, the fallout from the al-Ahli Baptist Hospital bombing has been swift, with a domino effect of negative consequences both for diplomacy and on the ‘Arab street’. The situation outside the US Embassy in Beirut is deteriorating tonight, with reports of riot police and tear gas being deployed against large crowds waving Hezbollah flags.
But more importantly, and just as Air Force One is departing Washington for Israel, the White House has canceled the entire leg of Biden’s trip to Jordan. The confirmation was issued within the same hour that Arab leaders announced they were unwilling to meet with Biden, given the US is Israel’s biggest funder and supporter.
Biden issued a statement “deepest condolences” to victims of Gaza “hospital explosion,” according to the White House official statement:
After consulting with Jordan King Abdullah II & in light of the days of mourning announced by Palestinian Authority President Abbas, President Biden will postpone his travel to Jordan and the planned meeting with these two leaders and Egypt President Sisi.
The President sent his deepest condolences for the innocent lives lost in the hospital explosion in Gaza, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded.
So even before arriving in Israel, the Tuesday massacre – which Israel is actually blaming on Palestinian militants (specifically PIJ) – has effectively served to box-in Biden. France’s Macron has just issued a condemnation to boot, saying “nothing can justify targeting civilians” in a statement which appears to place blame squarely on the Israelis. Biden will now also face the pressure to join the chorus of international condemnation. “International humanitarian law is binding on all and must enable the protection of civilian populations. Humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip must be opened up without delay,” the French foreign ministry said in the statement.
Here’s what Jordan had to say:
“There is no point in doing anything at this time other than stopping this war,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Al Jazeera Arabic early Wednesday morning. “There is no benefit to anyone in holding a summit at this time.”
There are emerging reports that crowds are attempting to storm the US Embassy in Beirut, based on unconfirmed but widely circulating footage overnight (local time):
In Beirut, Lebanon everyone is heading towards the US EMBASSY. pic.twitter.com/Q6ncVoWLml
— Iran Observer (@IranObserver0) October 17, 2023
Alleged footage circulating showing US Embassy in Beirut being stormed by a huge crowd of angered Lebanese following the horrific Israeli strike on a hospital in Gaza.#Lebanon #Gaza pic.twitter.com/smtqv5cl3X
— Robert Carter (@Bob_cart124) October 17, 2023
Also, things continue popping off around the Israeli Embassy in Jordan…
Watch: Jordanian security forces block protesters from attempting to storm the #Israeli embassy in Amman following a deadly attack on a #Gaza hospital.
More here: https://t.co/KfJNw90bl3 pic.twitter.com/YKRcrcJ80I
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) October 17, 2023
* * *
Update(1610ET): The IDF, and PM Netanyahu have weighed in on the Gaza hospital bombing, which killed and injured hundreds:
Tal Heinrich, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN Tuesday that the “IDF does not target hospitals,” adding, “we only target Hamas strongholds, arms depots and terror targets.”
Heinrich’s comments came after Palestinian officials said that preliminary estimates indicate between 200 to 300 people were killed in an Israeli strike on the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City.
An analysis of IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit.
Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is…
— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) October 17, 2023
The IDF issued a statement based on a preliminary investigation, claiming that it was an errant missile fired from within Gaza itself. The IDF alleges that Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired the rocket in a “failed shooting” that was intended for Israel.
“According to intelligence information, from several sources we have, the Islamic Jihad [PIJ} terrorist organization is responsible for the failed shooting that hit the hospital,” the IDF statement said, as it appeared in English on the Government of Israel’s “X” account. PIJ responds:
PALESTINIAN ISLAMIC JIHAD SPOKESMAN DENIES ISRAELI ALLEGATIONS THAT THE MILITANT GROUP IS RESPONSIBLE FOR GAZA HOSPITAL STRIKE
Breaking: IDF Spokesperson
From the analysis of the operational systems of the IDF, an enemy rocket barrage was carried out towards Israel, which passed through the vicinity of the hospital when it was hit.
According to intelligence information, from several sources we have,… pic.twitter.com/hdQra9QZAm
— Israel ישראל (@Israel) October 17, 2023
The international reaction has been swift, especially from regional heads of state, with Turkey’s Erdogan and Jordan’s King Abdullah being among the first to condemn the “war crime” and “massacre”. Abdullah said no one can be “silent” about it.
Large evening protests have not only erupted in towns across the West Bank, especially in Ramallah, but in Arab capitals from Tunisia to Amman. There are fresh reports that Israel’s embassy in Jordan is coming under attack. Large groups of demonstrators have also been seen headed toward the US Embassy in Beirut.
BREAKING: Dozens of protesters attempt to storm Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) October 17, 2023
Intifada 3.0?… but with signs this could spread across the Arab world in wake of the al-Ahli Hospital bombing in Gaza City:
Regardless, this is a very dangerous mega-event. Ramallah now. pic.twitter.com/4SWTtoJoub
— Daniel Seidemann (@DanielSeidemann) October 17, 2023
Scenes from Amman, again which could spread to many other countries as the Palestinian death toll continues to rise:
Hundreds of protesters try to storm the #Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan moments ago. pic.twitter.com/LKCQt6GlyT
— Ahmer Khan (@ahmermkhan) October 17, 2023
Meanwhile, in more breaking news…
WHITE HOUSE EYES $100 BILLION UKRAINE, ISRAEL AND BORDER ASK
Will this event be the spark that sets the whole region on fire? Whether what Israel is claiming is true or not, we may be witnessing the first rumblings…
Israel just made a horrible mistake, which will unleash a new major war in the region.
Israel made the impossible possible.
Factions who were fighting yesterday in Syria or the Afghan and Iranian forces. They actually could join tomorrow hands, while fighting Israel.
— Paktیawal (@Paktyaw4l) October 17, 2023
President Biden is on his way to Israel in Air Force One as all of this is escalating fast.
Already, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has canceled a scheduled meeting with Biden, citing the “cold-blooded massacre”.
Hard to see how Biden’s meeting with Arab leaders in Amman will take place after this. And the optics of going just to Israel after the carnage in Gaza are also terrible. https://t.co/gQ4cfHHY0i
— Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) October 17, 2023
And in additional breaking news: Russia and the UAE have called for an extraordinary UN Security Council meeting after the strike on the hospital in Gaza, per Tass.
* * *
Update(1400ET): Horrific reports of a mass casualty bombing are emerging from Gaza, where a hospital suffered direct hit reportedly by Israeli airstrikes. Gaza’s health ministry has said there are at least 500 casualties in the aftermath of the hospital blast, with “hundreds of victims” buried under the rubble. Gaza sources also say that a UN-run school housing refugees was attacked.
Initially, local emergency officials said there were at least 200 killed in the mid-evening bombing of al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, but the count has been steadily rising. Now, per Al Jazeera: “The health ministry in the Gaza Strip says at least 500 people have been killed in an Israeli attack on al-Ahli Arab Hospital.”
The moment the hospital in Gaza was hit by Israeli airstrike pic.twitter.com/OTTdayOGoT
— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) October 17, 2023
Graphic scenes are emerging…
⚡️Scenes from the bombing of Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in the center of Gaza City pic.twitter.com/wUAIKVZziX
— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) October 17, 2023
Gaza’s Health Ministry says Israel killed over 500 people in a targeted strike on the Ahli Arab hospital.
Initial estimates had the death toll at 200-300. These are scenes from immediately after the Israeli strike. pic.twitter.com/lHkjZravJA
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) October 17, 2023
Photographs are circulating of bodies scattered (intentionally blurred) outside of burning hospital wings:
The Israeli military directly bombs the Arab Baptist Hospital in Gaza city.
Many casualties pic.twitter.com/kpdI8zVvpe
— Younis Tirawi | يونس (@ytirawi) October 17, 2023
This humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding as President Biden is en route to Israel. Likely many of the victims of the hospital attack were women and children.
Certainly this greatly raises the pressure and the stakes for Biden, as the White House will have to ‘answer’ for this as Israel’s most powerful ally. No doubt the US administration is scrambling to prepare for how it will respond.
* * *
At this point, exchanges of fire between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and militants in south Lebanon, especially Hezbollah, have become a daily occurrence – and yet still a full assault from Hezbollah has been avoided. Many analysts have speculated that Israel could be holding off its expected major ground invasion of Gaza precisely to avoid provoking a ‘northern front’ from opening up.
But there are continuing signs the situation is sliding toward that feared two-front scenario, as the IDF has initiated a plan to evacuate all civilians who live within two kilometers of the Lebanese border. They said the repeat rocket and mortar fire make it necessary, also in preparation for potential greater military action.
The country’s National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) will oversee transferring of Israeli civilians to state-funded guesthouses. In total a whopping 28 towns and communities will be evacuated.
Israeli army Merkava tanks, file image via AFP/Getty
NEMA has listed them out as follows: Ghajar, Dishon, Kfar Yuval, Margaliot, Metula, Avivim, Dovev, Ma’ayan Baruch, Bar’am, Manara, Yiftah, Malkia, Misgav Am, Yir’on, Dafna, Arab al-Aramshe, Shlomi, Netu’a, Ya’ara, Shtula, Matat, Zar’it, Shomera, Betzet, Adamit, Rosh Hanikra, Hanita and Kfar Giladi.
Many of these in the last several days saw residents flee due to rocket fire from the other side of the border.
Hezbollah has issued new claims it has destroyed an IDF tank and other military assets. Already both sides have taken on a few casualties.
“Hezbollah carried out a number of attacks yesterday in order to try to divert our operational efforts [away from the Gaza Strip], under the direction and backing of Iran, while endangering the state of Lebanon and its citizens,” an IDF spokesman had said Monday.
“We have increased our forces on the northern border and will respond aggressively to any activity against us,” the IDF said. “If Hezbollah dares to test us, the reaction will be deadly. The United States is giving us full backing.”
⚡️Hezbollah published a video showing them “targeting this morning, Tuesday 10/17/2023, a vehicle of the Zionist enemy army in the Metulla site, causing direct hits.” pic.twitter.com/BRhUdpB31E
— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) October 17, 2023
Dozens of rockets have been launched from Hezbollah positions in the last days. Israel has in response shelled militant positions in Lebanon, but has also hit Lebanese residential areas, prompting people in the area to flee.
On Tuesday, Hezbollah announced that its fighters launched an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) at a gathering of Israeli soldiers, which the group said resulted in “a number of casualties”.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s main state backer Iran has continued ratcheting the threats against Israel:
Whatever crimes the Zionist regime commits will fail to compensate for its disgraceful defeat during the Al-Aqsa Storm operation.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) October 17, 2023
A series of statements from multiple sides point toward continued escalation, which could explode well beyond the Gaza crisis:
Israel Ministry of Health: “The war may last a long time, prepare an emergency stock of food for 4 months.”
Iranian Foreign Minister: “The expansion of the war to other fronts has begun to reach unavoidable stages.”
IDF Spokesman: “Israel is prepared on its own both in the north and in the south.”
Israeli Military Spokesman: “If Hezbollah commits a grave mistake, we will respond with devastating force never seen before.”
Iranian leaders have gone so far as to issue threat of ‘preemptive attack’ if Israel continues decimating Gaza…
JUST IN – Iranian Leader Khamenei in Rare Speech:
– “We MUST Respond to What is Happening in Gaza”
– “The usurper Zionist regime must be prosecuted.”
– “This should be realized by those who want Iran to stop certain Resistance groups, and they shouldn’t have any… pic.twitter.com/fz367ZDJvx
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) October 17, 2023
For now, the situation is expected to be contained given President Biden’s expected Wednesday trip to Israel. There’s widespread belief that Israeli will not go into Gaza with full force so long as the US leader is visiting.
Additionally, Israel is still facing condemnation and international pressure related to the Reuters crew which was fired upon: “On Friday, Issam Abdallah, a Reuters video journalist, was killed in southern Lebanon after missiles launched from the direction of Israel struck him,” writes the New York Times. “Six other journalists — from Reuters, Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse — were also injured in the attack, which occurred near the village of Alma al-Shaab.”
From South Front
On the evening of October 17, the IDF committed another act of genocide against the Palestinian people. A precision strike hit the Al-Ahli hospital, where there were thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, and no military. At least 790 people were reportedly killed, the vast majority of victims are children and women. Many patients were burned alive in the fire that broke out in the building. The current death toll is very approximate.
The Palestinian President declared three days of mourning for the victims of the deadly strike. Journalists of the Palestinian TV channel Al-Yum claim that before the attack in the IDF warned local residents about the need to hide in this hospital.
Israel is already trying to blame the attack on the hospital in Gaza on Hamas “misfire”. Netanyahu personally blamed Hamas for the attack. However, the damage suppose that the building was hit by a powerful missile that Hamas does not have in service.
On the other hand, the representative of the Israeli army, actually confirmed Israeli responsibility with his statements: “We have warned the hospitals of Al—Maamdani, Al-Ahli, Al-Arabi and five other hospitals not to use them as a shelter for Hamas.” Earlier, the same representative of the Israeli army stated that the Jews gave the civilians 4 hours to evacuate from the northern Gaza Strip along the provided corridor. It was along the humanitarian corridor near Salah al-Din that another airstrike killed about 70 people and wounded 200 others.
Carnage in Gaza: Reports of 500 dead and injured in hospital bombing – IDF: “Due to a failed Hamas rocket” (vid)
Hezbollah involvement is inevitable…
Nearly 500 people were killed and injured when Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital was shelled today “by the Israeli armed forces,” Palestinian enclave authorities said.
If the numbers are confirmed, then Hezbollah’s entry into the war is now a given.
Israel attributes bombing of Gaza hospital to failed Hamas rocket.
Israeli Armed Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said reports of a hospital bombing in Gaza are being investigated . “There are many false reports from Hamas,” he emphasized, among other things.
American network NBC News reported comments from a spokesman for the Israeli military, who said the hospital struck today in Gaza was not a target.
“A hospital is an extremely sensitive building and is not a target for the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) ,” he said.
“The IDF is currently conducting an investigation and as always prioritizes accuracy. We urge everyone to proceed with caution when passing on information about a terrorist organization.”
If the Israeli attack is confirmed,
Israel: “Leave Turkey immediately” – The Israeli embassies in Ankara, Jordan and other Arab countries are under siege – Chaos in the Middle East
The Arab world has risen – The Middle East is on fire
Israel has called on its citizens to leave Turkey immediately as there are serious incidents against Israeli diplomatic missions around the world.
In Jordan and Turkey, angry Muslims besiege Israeli embassies and consulates.
Serious incidents are taking place in Amman, Jordan where protesters stormed the compound of the Israeli embassy to express their anger after the attack that killed hundreds of people at a hospital in the Palestinian city of Gaza.
The protesters is the roadblock of the security forces and proceeded towards the embassy premises. Security forces used tear gas to disperse them.
Iran, Iraq and Lebanon along with other Arab and Muslim countries are declaring tomorrow a day of mourning.
The Palestinians also rise up in the West Bank where they demand a change of leadership and the removal of M. Abbas.
Judgment Day – The Grayzone live
Max Blumenthal, Wyatt Reed and special guests discuss the latest from Israel-Palestine and the ramifications of the massacre of hundreds of civilians sheltering in the Ahly hospital in Gaza City.
Another conversation with Syrian Girl and others
“People are now drinking contaminated water, the humanitarian disaster is more deadly than the bombing”
Another colleague in Gaza who didn’t evacuate the north says people are now drinking contaminated water, the humanitarian disaster is more deadly than the bombing. Hundreds of victims trapped under rubble for days because rescue workers are bombed trying to get to them. pic.twitter.com/yzePEq8p6u
— Abby Martin (@AbbyMartin) October 17, 2023