The president is visiting the country as the Middle East reels from an explosion at a Gazan hospital.
President Biden landed in Israel this morning as the world waited for evidence of whether a Hamas-linked group or Israel caused a devastating explosion yesterday at a hospital in Gaza City.
The explosion, evidently from a missile, killed hundreds of people and injured hundreds more. (This video, verified by Times journalists, shows the moment the blast destroyed the hospital.)
Both Israeli and Palestinian officials blamed the other side for the carnage. Gazan health authorities said it was an Israeli airstrike. Israeli officials said it was a failed rocket attack by Islamic Jihad, an armed group aligned with Hamas.
After Biden landed, he seemed to endorse Israel’s denial of responsibility. “Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” he said. “But there’s a lot of people out there not sure.”
The explosion added even more uncertainty to an already unusual trip by a U.S. president to a war zone. In response to the explosion, Arab leaders canceled meetings with Biden as protests spread across the region. In Jordan, a crowd lit fires outside the Israeli Embassy. In Lebanon, large demonstrations shook Beirut.
In the rest of this newsletter, we will walk through Biden’s visit as well as what we know — and don’t know — about the explosion.
The hospital blast
The explosion occurred last night at Ahli Arab Hospital. The death toll is expected to rise.
Rescuers found a charred, gruesome scene in the rubble. “The shreds of the bodies have overlapped,” said a doctor treating the wounded.
The hospital has a history of operating during conflict. Over this past weekend, rocket fire injured four staff members. Read more about the hospital.
The question of responsibility is likely to dominate the news today. It is the subject of intense dispute and regional unrest. Around the world, supporters of both sides are blaming the other for hundreds of civilian deaths.
The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah called for a “day of rage” today to protest the blast, and Jordan declared three days of mourning for the victims.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said “the barbaric terrorists in Gaza are the ones who attacked the hospital in Gaza,” not Israel.
The unrest has raised fears of a wider war. Iran’s foreign minister warned of an escalation in response to civilian deaths in Gaza.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for this morning.
Arab allies, including the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, canceled meetings with Biden.
He will now meet only with Netanyahu, whom he hugged after landing in Israel this morning.
Biden will likely try to de-escalate the conflict and secure humanitarian aid for Gaza.
A White House spokesman said that Biden had directed his national security team to “gather as much context as possible” about the hospital blast.
Many Arabs are critical of the U.S. for its support of Israel. “The Americans have zero moral standing in this region,” one Middle East expert said.
More on the war
A wider conflict with Hezbollah would create challenges for Israel. It would have to fight on two fronts and defend against the group’s guerrillas.
Israel’s armed forces announced the establishment of a humanitarian region in the south.
Hamas said its head of military intelligence was killed in an Israeli strike.
During the initial attack, Hamas members stole victims’ phones to broadcast violent messages.
A New York law firm rescinded job offers to three students who they said led groups at Harvard and Columbia that blamed Israel for the attack by Hamas.
Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for meetings while Biden is in Israel, highlighting the world’s new divisions.
THE LATEST NEWS
Representative Jim Jordan lost a vote to become House speaker after 20 Republicans opposed him. He plans to try again today.
Biden-district Republicans and loyalists of Kevin McCarthy: Here are the 20 G.O.P. lawmakers who voted against Jordan.
Jonathan Nez, a former Navajo Nation president, is running to become Arizona’s first Native American member of Congress.
China’s economy grew more than expected last quarter, but the real estate market continued to suffer.
The U.S. imposed more limits on American companies selling advanced computer chips that power A.I. to China.
More International News
Ukraine struck Russian air bases using American long-range missiles. Here’s why Biden decided give the weapons to Ukraine.
India’s Supreme Court rejected a plea to legalize same-sex marriage, saying that doing so was up to the country’s legislature.
An expected liberal coalition in the Polish Parliament could lead to a reversal of the nation’s deeply conservative policies.
Other Big Stories
Parking lots around the country have become home to Americans who live in their cars, too poor to rent but not poor enough for government aid.
The U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force have struggled to attract recruits. But with a marketing strategy based on swagger, the Marines have plenty.
In a plan to speed up boarding, United Airlines will allow economy passengers in window seats to board before those in middle and aisle seats.
A man was wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years. After being exonerated, an officer in Georgia shot him to death during a traffic stop.
It’s OK to withhold your opinions on the Israel-Hamas war, Elizabeth Spiers writes.
Here are columns by Pamela Paul on a Palestinian author and Jamelle Bouie on Jim Jordan.
Oprah before Oprah: Alice Travis became the first Black woman to host her own national talk show in 1977, with Toni Morrison among her guests.
Reopening: Rains and flooding devastated Vermont this summer. A tourism campaign called “Very Much Open” seeks to reassure visitors.
Runaways victory: Joan Jett was an early fan of the New York Liberty. This week she attended her first game in 10 years.
Lives Lived: Roland Griffiths helped pioneer a new era of research on psychedelics, which he saw as a way to alleviate suffering and even reach a mystical state. He died at 77.
M.L.B.: The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 10-0, in Game 2 of the N.L.C.S.
Soccer: Gio Reyna, who recently returned to the U.S. men’s national team after an injury, scored two goals in the Americans’ 4-0 win against Ghana.
A.I. and football: Technology from Amazon allows viewers of N.F.L. broadcasts to identify potential blitzes before a play.
ARTS AND IDEAS
An anniversary: “The Exorcist,” the classic horror film about a girl possessed by a demon, turns 50 this year. Times culture writers explored the movie’s legacy — and how it touches on faith, queerness and womanhood.
“It’s fitting that the biggest, most contested film to open in 1973 is about a life-or-death struggle over a female body,” writes the Times film critic Manohla Dargis, “a fight that was also at the center of the Supreme Court’s biggest, most contested decision that year: Roe v. Wade.”
More on culture
Britney Spears had an abortion during her relationship with Justin Timberlake, according to excerpts from her coming memoir.
A grand jury will consider a new manslaughter case against Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the 2021 film “Rust.”
At book fairs, Scholastic will separate books dealing with race and gender. Schools can opt to display these books — or not.
THE MORNING RECOMMENDS …
Whip up a pistachio pesto for this sandwich.
Watch “The Sugarland Express,” Steven Spielberg’s first theatrical release, on Amazon Prime.
Cut down on food waste with these tools and tips.
Create an ergonomic workstation.
Here is today’s Spelling Bee. Yesterday’s pangram was potently.
And here are today’s Mini Crossword, Wordle, Sudoku and Connections.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow.
David Leonhardt, along with Desiree Ibekwe, Lauren Jackson, Ian Prasad Philbrick and Tom Wright-Piersanti, contributed writing.
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