🔺 The Israel-Hamas war took yet another sombre turn after a devastating explosion at the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist hospital in the Gaza Strip on the night of the 17th of October killing more than 500 people.
🔺Consequently, protests erupted in Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Turkey outside US, French, and Israeli embassies.
🔺Accusations ran both ways as the IDF blamed an Islamic Jihad rocket misfire whereas Palestinian Authorities blamed an Israeli airstrike.
🔺The explosion in the hospital has been unequivocally condemned by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Qatar has dubbed it ‘a dangerous escalation’ and Saudi Arabia called it a ‘heinous crime committed by the Israeli occupation forces’.
🔺While the rhetoric implies escalation of the conflict, there is no evidence that these countries will go beyond public condemnation just yet.
🔺President Biden’s planned visit to Israel and Jordan has been impacted, with the Jordan leg being cancelled, whereas the Israel leg continued as planned.
🔺Israel’s siege of Gaza has involved the blockading of food and water supplies, and electricity. Living conditions are unhygienic and hospitals are overcrowded.
🔺This was compounded by a 24-hour IDF evacuation order of 1.1 million people in Gaza in preparation for a possible ground invasion.
🔺As of the 18th of October, the death toll in Palestine stands at 2778 with 9938 injured. In Israel, the death toll is 1400 civilians and 289 soldiers, reported dead on the 7th of October.
🔺The explosion occurred on the eve of President Biden’s visit to the region. In Israel and in Jordan, he would have had the chance to have a dialogue with PM Netanyahu and the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to establish a system for delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
🔺There would have also been opportunities to discuss a ceasefire and negotiate the releasing of the Israeli hostages.
🔺As the fighting continues, it is also inevitable that due to higher population density and lack of any supplies, the death toll in Gaza will continue to increase, sparking protests across the region. Pro-Palestine and pro-Israel protests have also been underway in the West, along with government clampdowns. Such protest activity across Western countries and the Middle East can be expected to amplify.
🔺Tensions between the US and Iran-backed groups could also be on the rise. US forces in Iraq intercepted and stopped a drone attack over the Al Asad air base. This comes after Iraqi groups and Iran threatened the US with missiles and drones should their support for Israel continue. While the US has not officially joined the fighting, its support for Israel is likely to continue. Events such as this drone attack could also become common.