The United States Government under President Joe Biden has warned its citizens to reconsider travelling to Isreal and Gaza due to civil unrest.
An updated travel advisory issued Thursday, October 19, 2023, by the US Department of State includes a flat “Do not travel” due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict warning for Gaza.
For Israel and West Bank, the government urged its citizens to reconsider travel due to terrorism and civil unrest.
This is coming barely 24 hours after Joe Biden met the Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu over the ongoing bombardment in Gaza.
Recall that at around 1700 GMT on Tuesday, the health ministry in Gaza said an Israeli air strike had hit the Ahli Arab Hospital in central Gaza City. Israel denied it was responsible, pinning the blame on a misfired rocket aimed at Israeli territory fired by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad from inside Gaza near the hospital.
The Gaza health ministry said at least 471 people had been killed and over 300 wounded, some in critical condition.
The AFP correspondents saw dozens of bodies at the scene. Medics and civilians recovered bodies wrapped in white cloth, blankets or black plastic bags. Bloodstains and torched cars could be seen in the hospital courtyard.
Images of the hospital after the strike published by the Maxar satellite monitoring group show the hospital buildings mainly appeared to be intact.
Maxar said their images reveal “a probable discoloured blast area in the main parking area of the hospital compound” with no “significant structural damage to the adjacent buildings”.
Violence has spiralled since Hamas militants on October 7 stormed out of Gaza and across the border into southern Israel and shot, stabbed and burnt to death more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.
At least 3,478 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip both in Tuesday’s hospital strike, and in Israel’s reprisals against the tiny territory for the October 7 attack, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry.
WHATSAPP: Click HERE to join the Kilamity News Room WhatsApp group to receive latest updates on your phone!
Since the start of the Israeli reprisals, tens of thousands of families have flocked to Gaza’s overwhelmed hospitals seeking refuge.
While Hamas immediately said the damage came from an Israeli air strike, the Israeli army said Gaza militants from another Palestinian group — Islamic Jihad — had caused the explosion with a misfired rocket.
“The evidence — which we are sharing with you all — confirms that the explosion at the hospital in Gaza was caused by an Islamic Jihad rocket that misfired,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari told a press conference in Tel Aviv.
He said no Israeli army fire “by land, sea or air” hit the hospital and said Israel’s trajectory analysis showed the rockets were fired “in close proximity to the hospital.”
Islamic Jihad has said that Israel was trying to evade responsibility for the death.
“We therefore affirm that the accusations put forward by the enemy are false and baseless,” the group said.
Hamas said in a statement Israel “is directly responsible for this horrific massacre which was carried out… with American weapons only the occupation possesses”.
Israel has denied that the explosion was caused by its own Iron Dome missile defence system, which seeks to protect Israeli territory from Gaza rocket attacks, with Hagari saying the system is not used to “intercept rockets inside Gaza” but prevent them from hitting Israeli territory.
US President Joe Biden, on a trip to Israel to show solidarity, said he was “deeply saddened and outraged” by the hospital explosion and backed Israel’s account.
“Based on the information we’ve seen to date, it appears as a result of an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza,” he added, after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.
Hamas has accused the US government of being “complicit in the occupation’s massacres”.
Governments in Arab countries and the wider Muslim world have largely backed Hamas’s accounts of the incident, expressing outrage at Israeli strikes on civilian populations.
Even countries with diplomatic relations with Israel, such as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, blamed Israel for the strike.
Thousands of protesters rallied in countries from Lebanon to Morocco, Iran and Turkey, late Tuesday and more demonstrations began Wednesday following calls for a “day of rage” across the region.
Governments in Europe have condemned the explosion, but without attributing blame.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said there is “no excuse for hitting a hospital full of civilians” in Gaza, but did not apportion blame for the blast.
Russia described the strike as a “crime” and an “act of dehumanisation”, calling on Israel to provide proof it was not involved.