Israel has agreed to let “life-saving” humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, President Biden said on Wednesday during his trip to the war-torn nation.
Biden also announced the U.S. would provide $100 million in funding to help civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.
Following his whirlwind, high-stakes visit to the Middle East, Biden is now heading back to the U.S.
He was initially supposed to travel from Israel to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
However, Abbas withdrew from the meeting after the Palestinian Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, claimed hundreds of Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a hospital. Biden’s trip to Jordan was then canceled in what the White House said was a “mutual” decision.
Israel has blamed the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, a Hamas ally, for the attack. Biden also claimed Israel was not responsible, citing data from the U.S. Defense Department he was shown.
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Egypt caught between Israel and Hamas as crisis deepens
Palestinians with dual citizenship gather outside Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the hope of getting permission to leave Gaza on Oct. 16. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)
Egypt has a decisive role to play as the war between Israel and Hamas threatens to spiral into a regional crisis, as it controls the only crossing to or from Gaza not controlled by the Israeli government.
That link, Rafah, remains closed. Aid trucks with food and supplies for Gazans are stuck on the Egyptian side of the border. Palestinians with dual citizenship — including hundreds with U.S. passports — are trying to get out.
Negotiations are ongoing in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, where strongman President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week. He was expected to meet with President Biden in Jordan on Wednesday, but the summit was called off after the destruction of a hospital in Gaza.
Like all Arab states, Egypt supports Palestinian statehood. But it also has a peace treaty with Israel — and receives $1.3 billion in American aid annually — making Egypt a uniquely influential nation as the Middle East reaches a point of extreme tension.
National Security Council: We don’t believe Israel is responsible for hospital attack
Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Wednesday that based on U.S. intelligence community analysis, the White House doesn’t believe Israel was responsible for the attack on a hospital in Gaza Tuesday that the Hamas-led Palestinian Health Ministry claims has killed hundreds of people.
Israel’s military has claimed the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad is responsible.
Netanyahu’s office: Aid can enter Gaza through Egypt, but not Israel
In a statement on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed Israel would allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to Gaza from Egypt. He said President Biden requested “basic humanitarian assistance.”
Netanyahu’s office said as part of this agreement, the Israeli Security Cabinet wouldn’t allow any assistance to enter Gaza from Israel if their hostages were not released and demanded the Red Cross visit those who were kidnapped.
His office said Israel won’t prevent food, water and medicine from being delivered through Egypt.
3 questions for Neel Shelter, whose Oscar-qualifying short ‘Perspectives’ addresses Israeli-Palestinian tensions
Israeli-British director Neer Shelter discusses his Oscar-qualifying short film, Perspectives, which addresses Israeli-Palestinian tensions. (Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; Photos: Courtesy Itay Goldstein, Neer Shelter)
There are myriad perspectives on the Israel-Hamas war that’s unfolding in the Middle East. Social media in particular offers a spectrum of opinion and hot takes about the circumstances surrounding the current conflict, and its roots in decades, if not centuries, of history. But as Israeli-British filmmaker Neer Shelter tells Yahoo Entertainment, those extremely online perspectives can come weighted with their own baggage — baggage that drags down the larger conversation.
“What’s happening on the ground in Israel now is heartbreaking,” says Shelter, who served in the Israeli military nearly two decades ago and has friends among the reservist troops that have been called up for service. “My heart goes out to all the citizens that are currently being forced to live in war. But to my mind, just as the traumatic events of the war that’s currently happening will stick around for generations to come, so will the opinions formed around it. It’s those opinions that will potentially prevent further wars from happening in the future. Seeing what’s happening in real life is a clear indication that hasn’t happened.”
U.S. working with partners in the region to free hostages, Biden says
President Biden said his administration was working with partners across the region to free hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7.
Although he said he was unable to speak about the “details” of what was going on behind the scenes, Biden reassured the family members of those kidnapped that there was no “higher priority” than freeing their loved ones. “You are not alone,” he said.
Humanitarian aid can move into Gaza: Biden
President Biden delivers remarks in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
President Biden said Israel has agreed to allow “lifesaving” humanitarian support into Gaza from Egypt, and he pledged $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank.
Speaking at a news conference in Tel Aviv, Biden said the aid will travel from Egypt and will be subjected to inspection. He added that if the aid was stolen by Hamas, the U.S. would stop the international community from being able to provide any aid. “The people of Gaza need food, water and shelter,” Biden said.
Americans should not travel to Lebanon, State Department warns
The State Department on Tuesday issued a new travel advisory urging U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to Lebanon, which shares a border with Israel.
The U.S. government raised the travel warning “due to the unpredictable security situation related to rocket, missile, and artillery exchanges” between Israel and Hezbollah, a militant group in Lebanon that’s backed by Iran and is supporting Hamas.
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, has a “limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens,” the State Department said.
Read more from Reuters: What you need to know about Hezbollah
U.N. agency calls on foreign ministers to support Gaza humanitarian efforts
The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has asked foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to fully support the humanitarian efforts that are in place to safeguard Palestinians in Gaza. In a statement released ahead of a meeting between foreign ministers of the OIC on Wednesday, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini asked that they support an immediate ceasefire and allow the movement of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
For more on UNRWA’s statement, click here.
Biden says he’s seen Defense Department data on Gaza hospital attack
After he made brief remarks to Israelis in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, President Biden said he relied on data from the U.S. military to make his determination that Israel wasn’t responsible for the hospital attack that Gaza says left hundreds of Palestinians dead.
When a reporter asked him how he was certain, Biden said: “The data I was shown by my Defense Department.”
Red Cross ready to deliver aid to Gaza
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday it has 60 tons of aid, including medical supplies, ready to be delivered to Gaza, but it is waiting for “safe humanitarian access” to the area.
The ICRC said in a statement that it has a four-person surgical team on standby to help wounded Palestinians in Gaza hospitals.
“It’s critically important to deploy. We all know the situation is very bad,” the ICRC’s chief surgeon, Tom Potokar, said. “There are a huge number of wounded people and a lot of displaced people, and ICRC has a role in helping these people in their suffering. The situation this time is much more difficult. There are far bigger numbers in terms of the people injured. The humanitarian crisis that is unfolding is on a much bigger scale.”
(Cover photo: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)