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The world holds its breath: Israel-Palestine war dramatically escalates after hundreds die in Gaza hospital strike as Iran warns ‘time is up’ and Hezbollah calls for ‘day of rage’ – hours before Biden flies in to Tel Aviv


The world is today holding its breath after a devastating strike on a Gaza hospital killed 500 people, sparking furious outrage across the Middle East and putting the region on the brink of an all-out war.

A huge explosion ripped through the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City last night while it was being used to treat and shelter thousands of civilians who were trying to avoid Israel’s relentless barrage of airstrikes. 

The devastating fireball has sparked a venomous blame game between Hamas and Israel, with the terrorists claiming it was the result of an Israeli air strike while the IDF blamed the Islamic Jihad militants for a misfired rocket. 

The hospital strike has sparked global anger, with Iran – Israel’s foe – declaring last night warning that the ‘time is up’ for the country and Tehran-backed terror group Hezbollah calling for a ‘day of rage’. 

The blast came just hours before US President Joe Biden touched down in Israel for a diplomatic scramble to prevent the war with Hamas from spiralling into an even larger conflict. 

But the blast has thrown Biden’s visit to the region into chaos, with a planned meeting involving him, the president of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, and leaders from Egypt and Jordan cancelled by the Arab nations in protest.

Children injured in the hospital strike cry as they receive treatment in the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern of Gaza Strip on Tuesday

Children injured in the hospital strike cry as they receive treatment in the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern of Gaza Strip on Tuesday

Palestinians at Al Shifa hospital mourn over the body of a family member after a blast at the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday

Palestinians at Al Shifa hospital mourn over the body of a family member after a blast at the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday

An injured man is delivered to Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City after he was injured in a blast at the al-Ahli Hospital on Tuesday

An injured man is delivered to Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City after he was injured in a blast at the al-Ahli Hospital on Tuesday 

Wounded Palestinians wait for treatment in al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, after arriving from al-Ahli hospital following an explosion there on Tuesday

Wounded Palestinians wait for treatment in al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, after arriving from al-Ahli hospital following an explosion there on Tuesday 

Wounded Palestinian children lay at the al-Shifa hospital, following a blast there on Tuesday

Wounded Palestinian children lay at the al-Shifa hospital, following a blast there on Tuesday 

Palestinian paramedic carries a child injured in the blast at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern of Gaza Strip on Tuesday

Palestinian paramedic carries a child injured in the blast at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern of Gaza Strip on Tuesday

People inspect the area of Al-Ahli hospital where hundreds of Palestinians were killed in a blast that Israeli and Palestinian officials blamed on each other on Wednesday

People inspect the area of Al-Ahli hospital where hundreds of Palestinians were killed in a blast that Israeli and Palestinian officials blamed on each other on Wednesday

The scene of destruction at Al Ahli hospital after a blast in Gaza City on Tuesday. Israel and Hamas terrorists have blamed each other for the blast

The scene of destruction at Al Ahli hospital after a blast in Gaza City on Tuesday. Israel and Hamas terrorists have blamed each other for the blast

Pictured: The burning hospital building after the strike on Tuesday night

Pictured: The burning hospital building after the strike on Tuesday night 

This damning move by the Middle Eastern states has cost Biden an opportunity for the face-to-face conversations he views as crucial for navigating this fraught moment.

Hellish video taken from the hospital, which was sheltering around 6,000 Palestinians and is funded by the Anglican Church, shows fire engulfing the building and the dozens of bodies strewn over the ground, many of them young children.

Ambulances and private cars rushed some 350 casualties from the al-Ahli blast to Gaza City’s main hospital, al-Shifa, already overwhelmed with wounded from other strikes, said its director, Mohammed Abu Selmia. 

‘We are squeezing five beds into a single tiny room. We need equipment, we need medicine, we need beds, we need everything,’ Mr Abu Selmia said, warning that the fuel supply for the hospital’s generators will run out on Wednesday. ‘I think Gaza’s medical sector will collapse within hours.’ 

In a press conference at al-Shifa doctors stood in a sea of dead children who had been brought from the stricken hospital, holding some of their faces to the cameras to show the horror that had befallen them.

The head of the World Health Organisation today issued a stark warning, saying the situation in Gaza is ‘spiralling out of control’ while calling for the ‘violence on all sides to stop’ so that Israel’s siege can be lifted and medical supplies let into the enclave. 

‘Every second we wait to get medical aid in, we lose lives,’ Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. ‘We need immediate access to start delivering life-saving supplies.’ 

In the immediate aftermath of the devastating blast, Hamas called the devastation a ‘horrific massacre’ and a ‘crime of genocide’, laying blame at the feet of Israel. But Israel quickly refuted that claim, instead blaming Hamas for striking the hospital with a misfired rocket. 

The horrific strike has raised already heightened fears that the Hamas-Israel conflict will engulf the Middle East, with Iran’s foreign minister declaring that the ‘time is over’ for Israel. 

Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist group based in Lebanon, called for ‘a day of unprecedented anger’ against Israel, while Libya’s foreign ministry accused the Jewish state of ‘war crimes and genocide’.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, later arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night after the hospital bombing – a remarkable show of unity between two former sworn enemies. 

While there, Amir Abdollahian issued a stark warning to Israel, with the foreign minister tweeting: After the terrible crime of the Zionist regime in the bombing and massacre of more than a thousand innocent women and children in the hospital, the time has come for the global unity of humanity against this fake regime more hated than ISIS and its killing machine. Time is OVER.’ 

Justin Bronk, a RUSI analyst, said that Iran’s threats, and the international revulsion sparked by the Gaza hospital attack, were deeply troubling in a region already on tenterhooks. 

Anger boiled over across the Middle East following the hospital strike, with demonstrators in Beirut, Lebanon, setting the U.S. embassy on fire before security forces fired tear gas at them in fierce clashes. 

Angry protesters also descended on the streets of Turkey and Jordan close to Israel’s embassies there, while Palestinian security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse anti-government protesters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. 

This anger could boil over to Europe, with protests expected in London later today. It comes as the head of MI5, the UK’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency, warned the conflict in Gaza could increase the chance of a terrorist attack on British soil. 

Palestinian children injured in the blast await treatment at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern of Gaza Strip on Tuesday

Palestinian children injured in the blast await treatment at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern of Gaza Strip on Tuesday

Palestinian children injured in the blast await treatment at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern of Gaza Strip on Tuesday

Palestinian children injured in the blast await treatment at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern of Gaza Strip on Tuesday

People inspect the damage at Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza on Wednesday following a blast which ripped through it a day earlier killing hundreds

People inspect the damage at Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza on Wednesday following a blast which ripped through it a day earlier killing hundreds

Protesters demonstrate in front of the Israeli Consulate after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds on Tuesday in Istanbul, Turkey

Protesters demonstrate in front of the Israeli Consulate after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds on Tuesday in Istanbul, Turkey

A flare launched by protesters lands amid Lebanese security forces at the entrance of the French embassy complex in Beirut early on Wednesday

A flare launched by protesters lands amid Lebanese security forces at the entrance of the French embassy complex in Beirut early on Wednesday

Lebanese people gather in front of the United States Embassy to stage a protest against an airstrike on Gaza's Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon on Wednesday

Lebanese people gather in front of the United States Embassy to stage a protest against an airstrike on Gaza’s Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon on Wednesday

Lebanese people gather in front of the United States Embassy to stage a protest against an airstrike on Gaza's Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon on Wednesday

Lebanese people gather in front of the United States Embassy to stage a protest against an airstrike on Gaza’s Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon on Wednesday

Protesters clash with police officers during a rally in support of the Palestinians, outside the Embassy of Israel, in Ankara on Wednesday

Protesters clash with police officers during a rally in support of the Palestinians, outside the Embassy of Israel, in Ankara on Wednesday 

Protestors rally outside the Israeli Consulate against a strike on a hospital in Gaza, in Istanbul, on Tuesday

Protestors rally outside the Israeli Consulate against a strike on a hospital in Gaza, in Istanbul, on Tuesday 

Protesters demonstrate in front of the US embassy after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds on Tuesday in Beirut, Lebanon, on Wednesday

Protesters demonstrate in front of the US embassy after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds on Tuesday in Beirut, Lebanon, on Wednesday

Israel’s military today reiterated its denial it was behind the strike on the hospital, accusing Hamas of carrying out the attack before adding that some 450 rockets fired from Gaza have fallen short and landed inside the strip in the last 11 days.

IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari accused Hamas of inflating the number of casualties from the explosion and said it could not know as quickly as it claimed what caused the blast. 

Hagari told a news conference this morning: ‘I want to make something clear: it is impossible to know what happened as quickly as Hamas claimed they knew. 

‘That should have been an initial warning sign for many. Unlike Hamas, the IDF launched an immediate examination.’

He added that the military had seen no evidence of a direct hit on the hospital, adding that there was no structural damage to buildings around the building and no craters consistent with an airstrike.

However, the terror group has labelled Israel’s claims as ‘completely incorrect’ and accused the IDF of ‘trying to cover for the horrifying crime and massacre they committed against civilians’. 

The deadly hospital blast comes just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the ‘world to unite to defeat Hamas as it defeated ISIS and the Nazis’ while warning Iran and Hezbollah ‘not to test us’.

Netanyahu warned Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and their Iranian backers that they will pay a ‘high price’ if they enter the conflict and join Hamas in its war against Israel.

But with Iran and Hezbollah’s threatening Israel its ‘time is up’ following the blast at the hospital, there are growing fears that the terrorist group will do just that. 

Netanyahu had earlier warned Israel was ‘approaching a fateful hour’ with more than 400,000 Israeli soldiers now gearing up for a battle in Gaza that will see street-fighting erupt in the tiny 25-mile long enclave in response to Hamas’ attacks on October 7, which killed 1,400 Israelis.  

More than one million people have now fled their homes in northern Gaza in scenes of chaos and despair in a desperate attempt to escape Israel’s imminent invasion and continued aerial bombardment of the Hamas-ruled territory.

But the United Nations has warned that a ‘spectre of death’ looms over Gaza where millions are stranded amid Israel’s total siege that is blocking food, water, medicine and fuel from reaching the enclave. 

The enclave’s food and water supplies are running dangerously low, and its hospitals are warning that they are on the verge of collapse, with medics saying health centres are quickly turning into morgues. 

The bodies of Palestinians who were killed in Israeli strikes, are transported on the back of a vehicle, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday

The bodies of Palestinians who were killed in Israeli strikes, are transported on the back of a vehicle, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday

An injured Palestinian is carried away from Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital after it was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on Wednesday

An injured Palestinian is carried away from Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital after it was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on Wednesday

A view of the surroundings of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital after it was hit in Gaza City on Wednesday

A view of the surroundings of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital after it was hit in Gaza City on Wednesday

Mourners stand near the bodies of Palestinians who were killed in Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday

Mourners stand near the bodies of Palestinians who were killed in Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday

A view of the surroundings of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital after it was hit in Gaza City on Wednesday

A view of the surroundings of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital after it was hit in Gaza City on Wednesday

Doctors stand outside al-Shifa hospital surrounded by a sea of dead children brought in from nearby al-Ahli hospital after the explosion

Doctors stand outside al-Shifa hospital surrounded by a sea of dead children brought in from nearby al-Ahli hospital after the explosion

A doctor at the scene of Al Ahli hospital after a blast in Gaza City on Tuesday

A doctor at the scene of Al Ahli hospital after a blast in Gaza City on Tuesday 

Meanwhile, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters aboard Air Force One that Biden ‘wants to get a sense from the Israelis on the situation on the ground’ and will ‘ask some tough questions’.

Biden will meet Netanyahu and the Israeli war cabinet seeking to get a sense of Israel’s plans and aims, Kirby said. Biden also aims to get humanitarian aid into Gaza, where millions of Palestinians are surviving with scant food, fuel and water due to Israel’s siege.

‘He’ll be asking some tough questions, he’ll be asking them as a friend, as a true friend of Israel, but he’ll be asking some questions of them,’ Kirby said.

Biden also planned to meet Israeli first responders and the families of those killed and hostages taken when Hamas made its incursion into Israel.

It was unclear what Biden could accomplish during his visit. Kirby said the U.S. president planned to speak with Abbas and Sisi on his way back to Washington.

‘This sort of murky but horrific event makes diplomacy harder and increases escalation risks,’ said Richard Gowan, U.N. director at International Crisis Group.

Roughly 2,800 Palestinians have been reported killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza. Another 1,200 people are believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead, health authorities said.

Those numbers predate the explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital on Tuesday. No clear cause has been established for the blast.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said an Israeli airstrike caused the destruction but the Israeli military denied involvement and blamed a misfired rocket from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group which also denied responsibility.

Mr Biden said in a statement that he was ‘outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, and the terrible loss of life that resulted.’

He also said he ‘directed my national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened’.

Protests swept through the region after the deaths at the hospital, which had been treating wounded Palestinians and sheltering many more seeking a refuge from the fighting.

People gather by destroyed vehicles at the site of the Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza on Wednesday in the aftermath of an overnight blast there

People gather by destroyed vehicles at the site of the Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza on Wednesday in the aftermath of an overnight blast there

An Israeli Merkava battle tank moves along the border with the Gaza Strip by Israel's southern city of Sderot on Wednesday

An Israeli Merkava battle tank moves along the border with the Gaza Strip by Israel’s southern city of Sderot on Wednesday

Hundreds of Palestinians flooded the streets of major West Bank cities including Ramallah. More people joined protests that erupted in Beirut, Lebanon and Amman, Jordan, where an angry crowd gathered outside the Israeli Embassy.

In Jordan, King Abdullah II had planned to host meetings with Mr Biden alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

But Mr Abbas withdrew in protest and the summit was cancelled outright.

Mr Kirby said Jordan had declared three days of mourning after the hospital explosion and Mr Biden understood the move and was part of a ‘mutual’ decision to call off the Jordan portion of his trip.

He said Mr Biden would have an opportunity to speak to the Arab leaders by phone as he returned to Washington.

Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, told a state-run television network the war is ‘pushing the region to the brink.’

There are also fears that a new front could erupt along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where Iran-backed Hezbollah has been skirmishing with Israeli forces.

Mr Biden’s trip will test the limits of US influence in the Middle East at a volatile time. It is his second trip to a conflict zone this year, after visiting Ukraine in February.

The visit to Israel coincides with rising humanitarian concerns in Gaza, where Israel has cut off the flow of food, fuel and water.

Mediators have been struggling to break a deadlock over providing supplies to desperate civilians, aid groups and hospitals.



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