Arab Leaders Refuse To Meet Biden As Protests Rage Around The World After Gaza Hospital Strike

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2023 - 09:01 AM

Update (2100ET): Wednesday is shaping up as quite a global day of rage as the following series of clips from major cities around the world demonstrates.














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Update(1820ET): As expected, the fallout from the al-Ahli Baptist Hospital bombing has been swift, with a domino effect of negative consequences both for diplomacy and on the 'Arab street'. The situation outside the US Embassy in Beirut is deteriorating tonight, with reports of riot police and tear gas being deployed against large crowds waving Hezbollah flags. 

But more importantly, and just as Air Force One is departing Washington for Israel, the White House has canceled the entire leg of Biden's trip to Jordan. The confirmation was issued within the same hour that Arab leaders announced they were unwilling to meet with Biden, given the US is Israel's biggest funder and supporter.

Biden issued a statement "deepest condolences" to victims of Gaza "hospital explosion," according to the White House official statement:

After consulting with Jordan King Abdullah II & in light of the days of mourning announced by Palestinian Authority President Abbas, President Biden will postpone his travel to Jordan and the planned meeting with these two leaders and Egypt President Sisi.

The President sent his deepest condolences for the innocent lives lost in the hospital explosion in Gaza, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded.

So even before arriving in Israel, the Tuesday massacre - which Israel is actually blaming on Palestinian militants (specifically PIJ) - has effectively served to box-in Biden. France's Macron has just issued a condemnation to boot, saying "nothing can justify targeting civilians" in a statement which appears to place blame squarely on the Israelis. Biden will now also face the pressure to join the chorus of international condemnation. "International humanitarian law is binding on all and must enable the protection of civilian populations. Humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip must be opened up without delay," the French foreign ministry said in the statement.

Here's what Jordan had to say:

"There is no point in doing anything at this time other than stopping this war,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Al Jazeera Arabic early Wednesday morning. “There is no benefit to anyone in holding a summit at this time."

There are emerging reports that crowds are attempting to storm the US Embassy in Beirut, based on unconfirmed but widely circulating footage overnight (local time): 

Also, things continue popping off around the Israeli Embassy in Jordan...

According to one US special forces veteran, now journalist:

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Update(1610ET): The IDF, and PM Netanyahu have weighed in on the Gaza hospital bombing, which killed and injured hundreds: 

Tal Heinrich, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN Tuesday that the "IDF does not target hospitals," adding, "we only target Hamas strongholds, arms depots and terror targets."

Heinrich's comments came after Palestinian officials said that preliminary estimates indicate between 200 to 300 people were killed in an Israeli strike on the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City.

The IDF issued a statement based on a preliminary investigation, claiming that it was an errant missile fired from within Gaza itself. The IDF alleges that Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired the rocket in a "failed shooting" that was intended for Israel.

"According to intelligence information, from several sources we have, the Islamic Jihad [PIJ} terrorist organization is responsible for the failed shooting that hit the hospital," the IDF statement said, as it appeared in English on the Government of Israel's "X" account. PIJ responds:


The international reaction has been swift, especially from regional heads of state, with Turkey's Erdogan and Jordan's King Abdullah being among the first to condemn the "war crime" and "massacre". Abdullah said no one can be "silent" about it.

Large evening protests have not only erupted in towns across the West Bank, especially in Ramallah, but in Arab capitals from Tunisia to Amman. There are fresh reports that Israel's embassy in Jordan is coming under attack. Large groups of demonstrators have also been seen headed toward the US Embassy in Beirut.

Intifada 3.0?... but with signs this could spread across the Arab world in wake of the al-Ahli Hospital bombing in Gaza City:

Scenes from Amman, again which could spread to many other countries as the Palestinian death toll continues to rise:

Meanwhile, in more breaking news...


Will this event be the spark that sets the whole region on fire? Whether what Israel is claiming is true or not, we may be witnessing the first rumblings...

President Biden is on his way to Israel in Air Force One as all of this is escalating fast.

Already, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has canceled a scheduled meeting with Biden, citing the "cold-blooded massacre".

And in additional breaking news: Russia and the UAE have called for an extraordinary UN Security Council meeting after the strike on the hospital in Gaza, per Tass.

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Update(1400ET): Horrific reports of a mass casualty bombing are emerging from Gaza, where a hospital suffered direct hit reportedly by Israeli airstrikes. Gaza's health ministry has said there are at least 500 casualties in the aftermath of the hospital blast, with "hundreds of victims" buried under the rubble. Gaza sources also say that a UN-run school housing refugees was attacked.

Initially, local emergency officials said there were at least 200 killed in the mid-evening bombing of al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, but the count has been steadily rising. Now, per Al Jazeera: "The health ministry in the Gaza Strip says at least 500 people have been killed in an Israeli attack on al-Ahli Arab Hospital."

Graphic scenes are emerging...

Photographs are circulating of bodies scattered (intentionally blurred) outside of burning hospital wings:

This humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding as President Biden is en route to Israel. Likely many of the victims of the hospital attack were women and children.

Certainly this greatly raises the pressure and the stakes for Biden, as the White House will have to 'answer' for this as Israel's most powerful ally. No doubt the US administration is scrambling to prepare for how it will respond.

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At this point, exchanges of fire between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and militants in south Lebanon, especially Hezbollah, have become a daily occurrence - and yet still a full assault from Hezbollah has been avoided. Many analysts have speculated that Israel could be holding off its expected major ground invasion of Gaza precisely to avoid provoking a 'northern front' from opening up.

But there are continuing signs the situation is sliding toward that feared two-front scenario, as the IDF has initiated a plan to evacuate all civilians who live within two kilometers of the Lebanese border. They said the repeat rocket and mortar fire make it necessary, also in preparation for potential greater military action. 

The country's National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) will oversee transferring of Israeli civilians to state-funded guesthouses. In total a whopping 28 towns and communities will be evacuated.

Israeli army Merkava tanks, file image via AFP/Getty

NEMA has listed them out as follows: Ghajar, Dishon, Kfar Yuval, Margaliot, Metula, Avivim, Dovev, Ma’ayan Baruch, Bar’am, Manara, Yiftah, Malkia, Misgav Am, Yir’on, Dafna, Arab al-Aramshe, Shlomi, Netu’a, Ya’ara, Shtula, Matat, Zar’it, Shomera, Betzet, Adamit, Rosh Hanikra, Hanita and Kfar Giladi.

Many of these in the last several days saw residents flee due to rocket fire from the other side of the border.

Hezbollah has issued new claims it has destroyed an IDF tank and other military assets. Already both sides have taken on a few casualties. 

"Hezbollah carried out a number of attacks yesterday in order to try to divert our operational efforts [away from the Gaza Strip], under the direction and backing of Iran, while endangering the state of Lebanon and its citizens," an IDF spokesman had said Monday.

"We have increased our forces on the northern border and will respond aggressively to any activity against us," the IDF said. "If Hezbollah dares to test us, the reaction will be deadly. The United States is giving us full backing."

Dozens of rockets have been launched from Hezbollah positions in the last days. Israel has in response shelled militant positions in Lebanon, but has also hit Lebanese residential areas, prompting people in the area to flee.

On Tuesday, Hezbollah announced that its fighters launched an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) at a gathering of Israeli soldiers, which the group said resulted in "a number of casualties".

Meanwhile, Hezbollah's main state backer Iran has continued ratcheting the threats against Israel:

A series of statements from multiple sides point toward continued escalation, which could explode well beyond the Gaza crisis

Israel Ministry of Health: "The war may last a long time, prepare an emergency stock of food for 4 months."

Iranian Foreign Minister: "The expansion of the war to other fronts has begun to reach unavoidable stages."

IDF Spokesman: "Israel is prepared on its own both in the north and in the south."

Israeli Military Spokesman: "If Hezbollah commits a grave mistake, we will respond with devastating force never seen before."

Iranian leaders have gone so far as to issue threat of 'preemptive attack' if Israel continues decimating Gaza...

For now, the situation is expected to be contained given President Biden's expected Wednesday trip to Israel. There's widespread belief that Israeli will not go into Gaza with full force so long as the US leader is visiting

Additionally, Israel is still facing condemnation and international pressure related to the Reuters crew which was fired upon: "On Friday, Issam Abdallah, a Reuters video journalist, was killed in southern Lebanon after missiles launched from the direction of Israel struck him," writes the New York Times. "Six other journalists — from Reuters, Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse — were also injured in the attack, which occurred near the village of Alma al-Shaab."