U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to visit Israel to support its war against Hamas after a deadly blast at a Gaza City hospital infuriated tensions and led to the cancellation of his planned summit with Arab leaders. The attack, blamed on a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, killed hundreds and left rescuers pulling bodies from the rubble.
The incident has exacerbated the crisis in the region since Hamas carried out an October 7 cross-border rampage against southern Israel, resulting in at least 1,300 deaths. Prior to the blast, health authorities in Gaza reported at least 3,000 deaths in Israel’s 11-day bombardment that began after the attack.
Jordan cancelled a summit with the U.S., Palestinian President Abbas, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi due to a hospital blast. Palestinian security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesters in Ramallah, occupied West Bank city, and Israel’s embassies in Turkey and Jordan.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Biden would ask “tough questions” to Israeli leaders but did not provide details. He will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli war cabinet to understand Israel’s plans and aims. The U.S. has previously stated that it does not want the conflict to escalate into a wider war and wants humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza despite an Israeli “siege” blocking food, fuel, and water supplies.
Biden will meet with Israeli first responders and families of those who lost loved ones or are Hamas hostages. He left Washington on a diplomatic mission to show support for Israel, calm the region, and boost humanitarian efforts for Gaza. However, the situation is unclear due to the hospital strike, conflicting reports about responsibility, and the cancellation of the summit in Jordan. Biden plans to speak with Abbas and Sisi on his way back to Washington. Richard Gowan, U.N. director at International Crisis Group, emphasized that the event makes diplomacy harder and increases escalation risks.