U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday to proffer his “profound condolences” for the Palestinian lives lost when an errant terror rocket hit the courtyard of a hospital in Gaza City a day earlier.
According to a State Department readout, Blinken and Abbas also discussed “continuing U.S. efforts to coordinate the provision of urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza, in tandem with partners, and efforts to prevent the conflict from spreading.”
The phone call came after Abbas canceled his participation in a planned peace summit on Wednesday with U.S. President Joe Biden over the false accusation that Israel targeted the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital.
In addition to Biden and Abbas, the summit in Jordan was to be attended by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and King Abdullah of Jordan.
Meanwhile, Abbas ordered three days of mourning in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and that PLO flags be flown at half-mast.
A White House official said that Biden had postponed his travel to Jordan and the planned meeting, after consulting with the Jordanian king and in light of the days of mourning that Abbas announced.
“The president sent his deepest condolences for the innocent lives lost in the hospital explosion in Gaza, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded,” the White House pool report continued. “He looks forward to consulting in person with these leaders soon, and agreed to remain regularly and directly engaged with each of them over the coming days.”
‘The situation on the ground’
During a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Wednesday, Riyad Malki, the P.A.’s top diplomat, accused the IDF of a “deliberate slaughter of children and women,” claiming Gazans are subject to an “unprecedented genocide.”
However, upon arriving in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Biden said that based on the evidence he’d seen, the explosion outside the Gaza hospital had been caused by Palestinian terrorist groups, confirming IDF intelligence.
“I’m deeply saddened and outraged by the hospital blast, which appears to be done by the other team—not you,” Biden, who came to Israel to show support for Jerusalem’s war effort against Hamas, told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hamas terrorists killed at least 1,400 Israelis and wounded more than 4,400 in a massive offensive launched from Gaza on Oct. 7, which included the firing of thousands of rockets at Israel and the infiltration of the Jewish state by terrorist forces.
Terrorists took at least 199 hostages from Israel to Gaza, including an unknown number of U.S. citizens, the IDF confirmed earlier this week.
Of the 4,475 people who have been wounded by Palestinian terrorists, 332 are currently hospitalized, per Israeli Health Ministry data. As of Wednesday, 61 of them are in critical condition while 167 remain in moderate condition.
During his one-day trip, Biden will “get a sense from the Israelis about the situation on the ground and, more critically, their objectives, their plans, their intentions in the days and weeks ahead,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters while en route to Tel Aviv.
The American president intends to ask Israeli officials “some tough questions,” warned Kirby, adding that “he’ll be asking them as a friend—as a true friend of Israel.”