The US, Egypt and Israel have all signaled readiness for aid to begin moving into Gaza, following a high-profile visit to Israel by US President Joe Biden. The glimmer of hope for civilian relief in Gaza comes one day after a devastating hospital blast in the enclave that likely killed hundreds and infuriated the region.
Palestinian officials have blamed Israeli airstrikes for the massive loss of life at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in the middle of Gaza City, but on Wednesday, US intelligence analysis echoed Israel’s claims it was “not responsible.”
The US National Security Council (NSC) said it had analyzed overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information. It found that “Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday,” NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
Initial evidence gathered by the American intelligence community suggested that the hospital strike came from a rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group – a rival Islamist militant group to Hamas in Gaza – officials told CNN separately.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had previously accused Palestinian Islamic Jihad of causing the explosion when one of its rockets launched at Israel misfired. In a televised news conference, the IDF said it had intelligence of “communications between terrorists” of rockets misfiring, which included mention of the hospital.
Islamic Jihad denied Israel’s assertions describing them as “false and baseless,” according to a statement Wednesday. CNN cannot independently confirm what caused the explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital.
The Palestinian Health Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, said in a statement on Wednesday that at least 471 people died and more than 300 were injured after the blast.
Biden’s wartime visit to Tel Aviv on Wednesday was his most forceful public show of support for Israel since the brutal October 7 Hamas attacks, in which the Islamist militant group killed at least 1,400 people and took more than 150 hostages, including children and the elderly.
Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a meeting that the hospital attack “appears as though it was done by the other team, not you.”
The competing narratives on what caused the blast come at a dangerous new phase in Israel’s war with Hamas, which threatens to spill over regionally as growing anger saw protests erupt across the Middle East on Wednesday.
Fears are also growing that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is spiraling “out of control.”