Abbas accuses Israel of ‘hideous war massacre’ after Gaza hospital attack

The Palestinian president says Israel crossed ‘all red lines’ by attacking the hospital, killing hundreds of people.

Abbas was in Jordan for a four-way meeting [File: Lisi Niesner/Reuters]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said Israel crossed “all red lines” by targeting al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, calling the attack that killed at least 500 people a “hideous war massacre” that cannot be tolerated.

Abbas said on Wednesday morning that any talks about anything other than stopping the war was unacceptable.

“Israel has crossed all red lines … We will not leave nor allow anyone to expel us from there,” he said.

Health authorities in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip said an Israeli air strike caused Tuesday evening’s blast, while Israel’s military attributed it to a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad armed group. The group has denied responsibility.

Abbas was in Jordan for a four-way meeting with US President Joe Biden, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, but pulled out following the attack.

Later, Jordan announced the cancellation of the summit with the US and Egyptian leaders.

Biden will now visit only Israel and postpone his travel to Jordan, a White House official said.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fischer, reporting from Israel’s Tel Aviv, said Biden’s intention was to act as an honest broker and show more support for Israel, which he has done since shortly after the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7.

“He also aimed to urge the Israelis to exercise caution in their operations in Gaza to minimise the humanitarian impact. This argument has become much more compelling after the events at al-Ahli Arab Hospital,” he said.

“Clearly, he is entering a situation that is much more volatile than he expected. It may strengthen his hand when he argues with the Israelis, saying to the Israelis that there is a risk an extended operation in Gaza could erode the global support they had.”

Victims mostly women and children

Al Jazeera’s Safwat Kahlout, reporting from Gaza, said most of the victims of the attack on the hospital were women and children, citing the enclave’s health officials.

He said the death toll was expected to rise as many bodies remained unidentified.

“In Gaza, at least five hospitals received warnings from Israel to evacuate. According to international law, hospitals are meant to be safe and off-limits to attacks. In Gaza, this principle is not upheld,” Kahlout said.

Ashraf al-Qidra, a Health Ministry spokesperson in Gaza, told Al Jazeera that al-Ahli Arab Hospital is a historic hospital associated with the Anglican Church.

“It hosts many displaced families and patients. It became a shelter due to the Israeli assaults on Gaza,” al-Qidra said, adding that ambulance services were trying to extract bodies, including many of children.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies