Tel Aviv, Israel, October 18: The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold an emergency session on Wednesday following an explosion at a Gaza hospital that has set the Middle East on edge.
Russia and the United Arab Emirates called for an open meeting shortly after the explosion, in the courtyard of Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, which according to Hamas sources killed some 500 Palestinians.
The explosion rocked the hospital as Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired heavy barrages of rockets at southern and central Israel. Alarms sounded in cities including Rishon Lezion, Petach Tikvah, Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan and Bat Yam.
The Israel Defense Forces released intercepted Hamas communications confirming the disaster was caused by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket fired from a nearby cemetery that fell short.
Hamas and much of the Arab world immediately blamed Israel, accusing the IDF of deliberately striking the hospital.
During the fighting in May, Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s rocket misfires killed four Gaza civilians.
Israel has been striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip since an October 7 assault by Hamas on Israeli communities near the Gaza border that caught Israelis off-guard. Fighting raged for days as the IDF initially struggled to clear out the terrorists. More than 1,400 Israelis were killed and over 4,100 more injured. At least 199 hostages were taken to Gaza.
On Tuesday evening, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, held a joint press conference with ambassadors from the Arab Group, a bloc of 20 Arab countries.
Mansour called for an immediate ceasefire and accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of lying about who is at fault for the hospital strike.
The UAE, which was initially supportive of Israel following Hamas’s Oct 7 attacks, has since fallen back into its role as the voice of the Arab world in the Security Council. The Emiratis issued a statement on Tuesday evening that “strongly condemns the Israeli attack that resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of people.”
The Emiratis also voted to support a Russian resolution calling for a ceasefire which omitted any mention of Hamas on Monday. The resolution was vetoed by the US, Britain and France.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, wrote on Tuesday evening that “the terrorists in Gaza are not only responsible for murdering Israeli children–they also murder Palestinian children.”
Regarding the hospital explosion, Erdan implored the global community to “stop believing these ISIS-like terrorists. The only ones shooting indiscriminate missiles at civilians are the Palestinians, who have been doing it for years.”
A scheduled meeting on the crisis in the Middle East, set for 6 pm Eastern Time on Tuesday, was postponed. The Security Council was set to vote on a Brazil-drafted resolution calling for humanitarian pauses in the Israel-Hamas war. It also urges Israel to rescind its order for civilians and UN staff to evacuate northern Gaza so that it can conduct military operations against Hamas while keeping civilians out of harm’s way.
Brazil’s text is now set to be voted on before Wednesday’s emergency session.
The United States has been pushing to hold off on Brazil’s resolution until after President Joe Biden‘s visit to Israel on Tuesday. That trip was set to include a summit in Amman with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority in an effort to coordinate a humanitarian response, but the meeting was cancelled following the hospital explosion.
Martin Griffiths, the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, arrived in Egypt on Tuesday to support negotiations on the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The United Nations said he intends to visit Israel, though there is no confirmation of that from Jerusalem.
Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, will travel from China to Egypt on Thursday to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Egypt has refused to allow Gazans fleeing the violence in the Strip through to refuge.
Guterres is also slated to speak Saturday at an international conference that Sisi is sponsoring.
Tazpit Press Service sources previously indicated the secretary-general was planning a trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority at around this time on the calendar, but there are no current indications that he will arrive now with regional tensions boiling over.