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Faith Nyasuguta

Israel is working through media and diplomatic channels to dispute accusations that it was responsible for the explosion at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday. 

Palestinian officials blamed Israel for the blast, but Israel asserts that it was caused by a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, which denied involvement.

Several Arab countries, including regional allies that have established ties with Israel, have condemned Israel for the explosion. The rapid attribution of blame coincided with angry rallies across the region. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Iran also blamed Israel for the incident.

A planned mini-summit between Joe Biden, Arab states, and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was canceled due to the ongoing conflict. Gulf leaders, under pressure domestically, are inclined to blame Israel for the blast and view it as an excessive use of force in response to Hamas’ actions.

The previous efforts to build a new relationship between Israel and some Arab states now appear to be at risk, which will be welcomed by hardliners in Iran, Lebanon, and Palestine. 

Some Israeli government extremists are also uninterested in compromising on the Palestinian question for better relations with Arab states.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned of potential protests in Egypt if Israel did not deescalate the situation. He accused Israel of seeking to displace Palestinians into the Sinai peninsula and emphasized the need for aid to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, with guarantees from Israel to prevent attacks on the convoys.

Israel is concerned that the aid convoys could contain ammunition for Hamas, a key issue being discussed in talks between Israel and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

Overall, the situation remains tense, with public opinion already strongly pointing to Israel as the culprit for the hospital explosion, regardless of conclusive evidence.

Meanwhile, aid workers have cautioned that food and other essentials are quickly running out in the Gaza strip, due to the siege imposed by Israel following a deadly attack by Hamas militants on October 7.

Mediators are pushing for an agreement to allow aid into Gaza through Rafah, which serves as the only border crossing to Egypt for the Palestinian territory.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has dispatched emergency food supplies to the Egyptian city of El-Arish and near the Gaza border, ready to be delivered once the border reopens.

WFP has been providing food and financial assistance to 522,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank since the beginning of the recent conflict. However, they’ve expressed concern that their current stocks of essential food staples are running critically low.

“Existing food supplies can’t reach stores or the people due to damaged infrastructure and a lack of fuel. The number of bakeries we collaborate with is dwindling, and they’re also grappling with shortages of water and electricity needed for bread production,” warned Samer Abdeljaber, WFP Country Director for Palestinian Territories.

This war has tragically become the deadliest of the five Gaza conflicts for both sides.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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