Israel live updates: Gaza hospital blast likely a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket misfire, U.S. officials say
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ISRAEL — President Joe Biden is in Israel for a high-stakes trip that comes after a deadly Gaza hospital blast that has fueled protests across the Middle East and threatened to derail diplomatic efforts.
The U.S. has independently assessed that it was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad group rocket that misfired and hit the hospital, two senior U.S. officials and a congressional staffer told NBC News. Biden also said that “appears” to be the case. Israel has insisted that’s what happened.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said 471 people were killed in what it called a “targeted” Israeli bombing of al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in central Gaza. Biden’s planned meeting with Arab leaders in Jordan was canceled as anger spread across the region.
Israel said it would now allow food, water and medicine to enter the blockaded Gaza Strip from Egypt after a “demand” from Biden, offering hope of some relief for civilians facing a growing crisis.
Hamas has expressed a willingness to release some captives, with a senior Hamas official telling NBC News that the group is willing to release all civilian hostages immediately — within an hour — if Israel stops its bombing campaign of Gaza.
More than 3,400 people have been killed and more than 12,500 have been injured in Gaza. In Israel, 1,400 people have been killed and 3,500 wounded. Here are live updates from NBC News:
12:09 PM EDT: U.S. sanctions Gaza company for Hamas crypto transfers (By Kevin Collier)
The Treasury Department sanctioned a Gaza-based company Wednesday that allegedly facilitated cryptocurrency transactions for Hamas.
The company, which goes by the English name Buy Cash, appears to be a physical store with an active Facebook page, and offers to exchange conventional currencies. In 2021, Israel seized a bitcoin wallet that it said belonged to Buy Cash and that had been used for Hamas fundraising.
Elliptic, a London-based cryptocurrency analysis company, said in a blog post that it had tracked Buy Cash wallets being used by several terror groups, including an Al Qaeda affiliate and ISIS.
12:02 PM EDT: U.S. vetoes U.N. resolution on Israel-Hamas war (By Julia Jester and Daniella Silva)
The United States vetoed a U.N. resolution on Wednesday put forward by Brazil that would have called for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver aid and supplies to civilians in Gaza. Twelve of the 15 council members voted in favor of the resolution, with Russia and the United Kingdom abstaining. The U.S. voted against it, preventing its adoption as a permanent member of the Security Council.
After the vote, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said “we need to let that diplomacy play out,” adding that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President Joe Biden and regional actors on the ground “are engaged in intensive dialogue on the very issues we are deliberating on today.”
Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. was “disappointed this resolution made no mention of Israel’s rights of self-defense” and called on every member to “condemn Hamas as terrorism” and call on it to end its rocket fire against Israel.
She said the U.S. would continue to work closely with council members and “to reiterate the need to protect civilians including members of the media, humanitarian workers and U.N. officials.”
She concluded by asking the council to support “equal measures of justice and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
11:50 AM EDT: U.S. to provide $100 million in humanitarian assistance for Palestinians (By Daniella Silva)
Biden said Wednesday the United States is providing $100 million in humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
“This funding will help support over a million displaced and conflict-affected people with clean water, food, hygiene support, medical care, and other essential needs,” a White House statement said.
“Civilians are not to blame and should not suffer for Hamas’s horrific terrorism. Civilian lives must be protected and assistance must urgently reach those in need,” the White House said. “We will continue to work closely with partners in the region to stress the importance of upholding the law of war, supporting those who are trying to get to safety or provide assistance, and facilitating access to food, water, medical care, and shelter.”
11:46 AM EDT: Thousands take to the streets of Beirut to protest Gaza hospital blast (By Matt Bradley and Ziad Jaber):
BEIRUT — Some waved Palestinian flags, others held up pictures of dead children, all were among the thousands who gathered in the Dahieh neighborhood in southern Beirut wanting to express their anger about the explosion at the Ahli Baptist Hospital in the Gaza Strip that left hundreds dead.
Doctors and nurses were noticeably present as various speakers from the Hezbollah militant group whipped up the crowd, which erupted into multiple chants of “death to America” and “death to Israel.”
As some waved pictures of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, many of the speakers criticized President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel, saying it showed America was complicit in war crimes.