(Bloomberg) — US President Joe Biden said he’d been shown evidence by the Pentagon suggesting Israel wasn’t responsible for the deadly blast at a Gaza City hospital on Tuesday night that killed hundreds and threatened to plunge the region into chaos.
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“Based on what I’ve seen, that appears as though it was done by the other team,” Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after landing in Tel Aviv. The attack will complicate US efforts to contain the conflict. Israel and Hamas — designated a terrorist group by the US and Europe — traded blame for the attack.
Iran, meanwhile, called for an embargo against Israel by Muslim countries. Visiting Beijing, Russian President Vladimir Putin, under international sanctions for the war on Ukraine, said the blast was a sign the war should end as soon as possible.
Biden Says Pentagon Has Evidence Of Israeli Innocence (4:05 p.m.)
Joe Biden told reporters he was shown evidence by the Pentagon that Israel was not behind the explosion at a Gaza City hospital. He spoke hours after telling Benjamin Netanyahu that he believed Tuesday’s blast was likely the fault of the “other team, not you.”
Biden spoke to reporters Wednesday as he met with first responders and survivors of the Hamas-led raid on Israel on Oct. 7.
Participants included a 25-year old woman who helped organize the defense of her kibbutz, a grandmother held hostage for nearly a full day, and a family that narrowly survived an attack on their home. Others at the session included a doctor and emergency medic who have treated both Israelis and Palestinians injured in the conflict.
To hear a discussion on Biden’s options, click here.
US Sanctions Individuals Linked to Hamas (3:35 p.m.)
The US sanctioned several individuals associated with Hamas’ investment portfolio as well as two senior members of the organization’s leadership, in a move designed to limit its ability to raise funds.
Six of the sanctioned individuals are accused of running an investment portfolio worth hundreds of millions of dollars, with companies in Turkey, Algeria, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and other countries. The network uses front companies to disguise its activities and generates revenue used to support senior Hamas officials, allowing them to live in luxury, the US Treasury Department said in a statement Wednesday.
EU-North Africa Trade Meeting Canceled Amid Tensions (2:50 p.m.)
A meeting of trade ministers of the European Union for the Mediterranean scheduled for Thursday in Valencia, Spain, was canceled at the last minute due to the Israel-Hamas conflict, people familiar with the matter said.
Besides the 27 EU member states, 16 Mediterranean countries are members of the arrangement, including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and the Palestinian areas.
Oil Jumps, US Equity Futures Fall (2:20 p.m.)
Crude prices jumped more than 3% and stocks tumbled globally as investors responded to Iran’s call for an oil embargo. S&P 500 futures contracts lost 0.5%, while gold prices rose on haven demand.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. led a slump among airlines after warning of the potential blow to earnings from the suspension of flights to Tel Aviv.
“The risks of an escalation have risen on the back of the latest news reports regarding the hospital bombing,” said Jane Foley, head of foreign-exchange strategy at Rabobank. “On any clear escalation, we can expect to see a ratcheting up of risk aversion.”
UN Says ‘Catastrophe’ Unfolding in Gaza (2:17 p.m.)
Gaza is on the brink of a major health and sanitary crisis with stocks of food and medicine rapidly dwindling, said Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
“An unprecedented catastrophe is unfolding before our eyes. Gaza is being strangled and the world seems to have lost its humanity,” Lazzarini said in his statement during the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit.
He said the agency was short of $100 million of core budget this year and an initial appeal for $104 million in immediate emergency response funding for more than a million displaced people will likely soon be revised upwards.
Sunak: No ‘Rush to Judgement’ on Blast (2 p.m.)
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cautioned “not to rush to judgment before we have all the facts” about the hospital blast in Gaza. He told Parliament that British intelligence has been analyzing the evidence available. Opposition leader Keir Starmer urged the government to ensure medicine, fuel, food, water and humanitarian aid can enter the region “immediately.”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly plans to return to Middle East later this week, UK officials said, including a trip to Egypt to discuss opening the Rafah crossing. Sunak is set to visit Israel as soon as Thursday, Sky News reported, although the prime minister’s office has declined to confirm a possible trip.
Putin Says Conflict Should Be Ended (1:30 p.m.)
The blast at the hospital in Gaza should be a signal for the conflict to be stopped as soon as possible, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Beijing, where he met Chinese President Xi Jinping and attended a forum marking 10 years of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Putin said that after talks with the leaders of five Middle East states this week, he is “under the impression that no one wants to continue the conflict” or for it “to turn it into a large-scale war.”
Putin, who is under international sanctions for Russia’s war on Ukraine, spoke on Monday with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Iran Calls for Oil Embargo Against Israel (12:20 p.m.)
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called for imposing an oil embargo against Israel, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s official Telegram channel.
Speaking ahead of an emergency meeting of Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries over the Israel-Hamas conflict, Amirabdollahian also called on Muslim nations to “fully and immediately boycott” Israel and expel its ambassadors.
Oil prices surged after the comments. Still, Israel is a small importer. And while other Middle Eastern energy producers, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have criticized Israel for its strikes on Gaza, they’ve not talked of halting sales to it or any of its allies.
Higher UK Domestic Terror Threat (12:00 p.m.)
The head of Britain’s domestic spy agency warned the current conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories increases the nation’s terror risk, as he singled out Iran as a cause for concern.
“There clearly is the possibility that profound events in the Middle East will either generate more volume of UK threat and/or change its shape in terms of what is being targeted, in terms of how people are taking inspiration,” Ken McCallum, MI5 director general, told media in the US on Wednesday. His office confirmed the remarks.
Egypt Rejects Attempt to Move Palestinians (10:20 a.m.)
Moving Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula could lead to that territory being used as a base for operations against Israel, Egypt’s El-Sisi said Wednesday. At a joint press conference with Germany’s chancellor, El-Sisi suggested Palestinians could be relocated to Israel’s Negev Desert until the end of the fighting.
Germany’s Scholz said his country and Egypt are “united in their goal of preventing a conflagration in the Middle East” and reiterated a warning to Iran and Hezbollah that it would be a “grave mistake” for them to intervene.
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