Joe Biden says Gaza hospital blast 'appears to have been caused by the other team' as he stands alongside Israeli PM

18 October 2023, 09:16 | Updated: 18 October 2023, 11:03

The Israeli PM greeted Biden in Israel amid concerns of a wider conflict in the Middle East
The Israeli PM greeted Biden in Israel amid concerns of a wider conflict in the Middle East. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Joe Biden has said the Gaza hospital blast appeared to have been caused by the "other team" as he stood alongside Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Biden said he was "deeply saddened and outraged" by the explosion in the Gaza hospital.

At least 500 were killed when the explosion hit the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday night while it was being used to treat and shelter civilians.

"Based on what I've seen it, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you," Mr Biden told Mr Netanyahu.

"But there's a lot of people out there who are not sure, so we have got to overcome a lot of things."

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) denied being behind the attack, saying it came from a failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad terror group.

Doctors gave a press conference surrounded by dead children at another hospital in Gaza, al-Shifa, in a stark image of the deadly impact of the war on innocent people between Israel and Hamas.

But the IDF released new surveillance images of the hospital compound, saying it showed the failed launch site nearby which it claims triggered the blast.

It also released audio on Wednesday morning, claiming it contained admissions by Islamic Jihad that they were responsible for the explosion.

A spokesperson for the military, Brigadier General Daniel Hagari, said: "We have intelligence... of communication between terrorists talking about rockets misfiring.

"The terrorists realise that the rocket has misfired and make specific reference to the al-Ahli hospital."

He translated the alleged conversation, saying it was fired from a cemetery behind the hospital but that it "misfired and fell on them".

It's 'not the first time' a Hamas rocket has fallen short of intended target says Israeli gov rep

Read more: 'It wasn't us': Israel releases new audio of Islamic Jihad 'admitting to hospital blast' that killed hundreds in Gaza

Read more: Thousands take to streets across Middle East after hundreds killed in Gaza hospital air strike

It comes after Biden greeted Mr Netanyahu with an embrace as he arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning.

The explosion curtailed Mr Biden's trip to the region, with planned face-to-face talks with King Abdullah of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cancelled.

Protests have swept through the region, with hundreds of Palestinians flooding 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.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Jordan had declared three days of mourning after the hospital explosion.

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

The president will now only stop in Tel Aviv, where he is expected to push for allowing critical humanitarian aid into Gaza during meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The US previously sent two aircraft carriers to the eastern Mediterranean in a bid to deter further escalation of the conflict across the Middle East.

Mr Kirby said that Mr Biden "wants to get a sense from the Israelis on the situation on the ground" and will "ask some tough questions".

"He'll be asking them as a friend," he added.