U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cabled all U.S. diplomatic and consular posts, authorizing them to lower flags to half-staff over those killed at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday.
The flags would be lowered “to observe national periods of mourning following an official proclamation by the host government with respect to the loss of innocent lives at the Al Ahli Hospital blast on October 18,” The Times of Israel reported.
According to Blinken’s cable, diplomats were told to consider whether failing to do so “would expose the U.S. Mission to added security risk and/or isolate the U.S. Mission vis-à-vis like-minded embassies.”
U.S. missions in countries whose governments identify with Hamas and support terrorism were instructed to include a statement that the lowered flag was only to mourn the loss of innocent lives.
The secretary of state did not request that flags be flown at mast-staff to honor those killed in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
The parking lot of the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City was hit on Tuesday by an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket targeting the Jewish state. Hamas claimed that the blast killed hundreds and blamed Israel, as did Arab leaders, as protests against Israel erupted in Muslim states.
The Israel Defense Forces provided information, including aerial footage, recordings of Hamas members and evidence from the blast site, that proved it was a locally made rocket. Experts have also offered their opinions on the size of the blast and the extent of the damage it did to reportedly rule out a strike by the Israeli Air Force.
After reviewing the evidence, the U.S. government has accepted the Israeli version of events, as have Western media outlets.