ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 146

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Hamas urges attacks on Israelis; Arab world ignores Israeli claims on hospital blast

Even countries allied with Jewish state accuse it of ‘massacre,’ despite IDF airing extensive evidence that errant Palestinian rocket fire hit Al-Ahli’s parking lot

Supporters of Palestinian terror group Hamas chant slogans during a protest in support of Gaza in Nablus, in the West Bank on October 18, 2023. (Thomas COEX / AFP)
Supporters of Palestinian terror group Hamas chant slogans during a protest in support of Gaza in Nablus, in the West Bank on October 18, 2023. (Thomas COEX / AFP)

The Hamas terror group called on Wednesday for attacks against Israeli forces and urged Arab and Muslim countries to expel Israel’s ambassadors, as Arab fury toward the Jewish state persisted hours after the Israel Defense Forces presented extensive evidence that it wasn’t behind a blast that hit the parking lot of a Gazan hospital the previous evening.

Many Arab states, including allies of Israel, accused the IDF of striking Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza Strip from the air, allegedly causing hundreds of deaths, and condemned Israel in fiercely worded statements. These weren’t retracted even after the IDF published its evidence that a misfired Palestinian rocket was the culprit and after daylight footage from the scene showed that, atypically for an Israeli airstrike, no buildings surrounding the scorched parking lot had suffered significant structural damage and there was no crater in the ground.

The Gazan health ministry — controlled by Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that started the war with its October 7 massacre of at least 1,400 Israelis — initially claimed that over 500 people were killed in the explosion, later amending that number to between 200 and 300. No verified figure was available.

Visiting Israel, US President Joe Biden endorsed the Israeli account at a joint appearance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Based on what I’ve seen, it appears it was done by the other team, and not you,” he said. At the same time, he added, “There’s a lot of people out there who are not sure. So we’ve gotta overcome a lot of things.”

During a press conference in Beirut on Wednesday, a Hamas official called for attacks against Israeli forces in the West Bank and other territories in response to the incident.

“We call on our people in the West Bank and our people in Palestine… to rise up against the Zionist enemy and clash with its forces in all cities, villages and camps,” Osama Hamdan told reporters.

Hamdan called for regionwide protests on Friday and Saturday, demanding the “expulsion of the ambassadors of the Zionist entity in all Arab and Islamic capitals.”

The denunciations of Israel by Arab countries coincided with angry rallies in Lebanon, Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco, Iran and the West Bank, with more planned on Wednesday following calls for a “day of rage” across the region.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which both established ties with Israel in the Abraham Accords of 2020, condemned the “Israeli” attack, which came as the IDF has been conducting a large-scale aerial offensive against Hamas targets in Gaza, ahead of a presumed ground operation with the goal of toppling the terror group’s rule over the Strip.

“The United Arab Emirates strongly condemns the Israeli attack… resulting in the death and injury of hundreds of people,” the UAE’s official WAM news agency said early on Wednesday.

Bahrain’s foreign ministry “expressed the Kingdom of Bahrain’s condemnation and strong denunciation of the Israeli bombing,” the Bahrain News Agency said.

Morocco, another country that recognized Israel in 2020, also blamed it for the strike, as did Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab country to normalize relations.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi condemned in the strongest terms “the Israeli bombing” near the Ahli Arab hospital, which led to “the deaths of hundreds of innocent victims” among the Palestinian citizens of Gaza.

He called the “deliberate bombing” a “clear violation of international law.”

Lebanese protesters wave Palestinian national flags and shout slogans in solidarity with the people of Gaza in downtown Beirut, after a blast in the parking lot of a hospital in the Gaza Strip, October 17, 2023. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP)

Saudi Arabia, which has frozen talks on potential ties with Israel since violence flared, called the blast a “heinous crime committed by the Israeli occupation forces.”

Jordan claimed Israel “bears responsibility for this grave incident” while Qatar, which has close ties to Hamas, slammed the “brutal massacre.”

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation also blamed Israel for the blast, calling it “a war crime, a crime against humanity, and organized state terrorism.”

Gulf Cooperation Council secretary general Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi said it was “glaring evidence of the serious violations by the Israeli occupation forces.”

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on Tuesday for leaders to “stop this tragedy immediately.”

“What diabolical mind intentionally bombards a hospital and its defenseless inhabitants?” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

People lift placards and Palestinian flags during a protest in Libya’s capital Tripoli late on October 17, 2023, in support of Palestinians after a blast hit the parking lot of Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group called for a “day of rage” against Israel following the incident, as hundreds rallied at the US and French embassies overnight, where they scuffled with security forces.

More protests were planned for Wednesday, with Lebanon joining other Arab states in declaring a day of national mourning.

In Tunisia, thousands gathered outside the French embassy and demanded the expulsion of the French and US ambassadors in protest of their governments’ support for Israel.

Iraq, which also blamed Israeli authorities, demanded an “immediate and urgent resolution” from the UN Security Council to stop Israel’s Gaza campaign, as hundreds protested in the capital Baghdad, brandishing Palestinian flags.

Algeria condemned the strike as a “barbaric act” carried out by “occupation forces.”

Libya’s Tripoli-based internationally recognized government called the hospital blast a “despicable crime” as several hundred people protested in Tripoli and other Libyan cities.

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