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Israel will allow basic humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, the government announced, a move that came as US President Joe Biden began his visit to the Jewish nation amid fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas militants in the Palestinian enclave, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would allow “humanitarian assistance from Egypt as long as it is only food, water and medicine” for civilians in southern Gaza only. He added the passage of aid was possible as long as it did not end up in the hands of Hamas, which controls the entire enclave.
Fighting between Israel and Hamas flared again after Palestinian militants launched a bloody attack from Gaza on Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,400 people and resulted in the kidnapping of nearly 200 others.
The Israeli government responded by declaring war on Hamas and imposing a siege on Gaza. Israeli bombings have resulted in more than 3,300 deaths, according to Palestinian health officials.
President Biden arrived in Israel Wednesday in a show of solidarity with the country, urged the Israeli government to show restraint regarding Palestinian civilians, discussed ways to reach a peaceful resolution to the war, and also prevent it from turning into a regional conflict.
But the US leader’s trip was overshadowed by the deadly blast at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, with both Israel and Palestinian militants blaming each other for the bombing.
Palestinian officials estimated more than 500 people were killed in the explosion.
Following an internal investigation, the Israel Defense Forces said the explosion at the hospital was caused by a misfired rocket launched by militants from a nearby cemetery.
Biden also backed the Israeli accounts even as the strike prompted strong condemnation from Arab leaders in the region, with protests breaking out from Morocco to Turkey and Iran, the Washington Post reported. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called it a “heinous war crime,” while the United Arab Emirates – which normalized relations with Israel in recent years – called it “an Israeli attack.”
The deadly blast resulted in Jordanian King Abdullah II canceling a summit with Biden, Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.
Meanwhile, el-Sissi accused Israel of trying to push Palestinians into Egypt, which borders Gaza, and warned that such a move risked turning the war into a regional conflict.