Global News Digest – 18th October 2023

Today's top world news, in a nutshell.

Gaza hospital blast leaves 500 dead

A huge explosion at a Gaza hospital has derailed the diplomatic efforts led by the US to mobilise support for “Israel’s right to defend itself” with a summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and other leaders in Amman being called off.

Around 500 people are feared dead after a deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza for which Hamas and Israel traded charges holding each other responsible for the incident.

Biden is scheduled to arrive in Israel today on a solidarity visit to express support for Israel.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi announced that Biden’s summit in Amman, scheduled to take place on Wednesday with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has been cancelled.

Hamas was quick to blame an Israeli air strike for causing the explosion at the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday, but Israel vehemently denied the charges insisting that a misfired rocket by the Islamic faction caused the explosion.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, widely considered to be the faction’s overall leader, in a surprising move, blamed the US as responsible for the attack stressing that Washington gave Israel the “cover for its aggression”.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey also accused Israel of bombing the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held the “barbaric terrorists in Gaza” responsible for the deaths.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday he was “horrified” by hundreds of people killed in the blast at a Gaza hospital. Before flying to the Chinese capital to attend the Belt and Road Forum, Guterres appealed to Hamas for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, and to Israel to allow immediate unrestricted access to humanitarian aid for Gaza.

Times of Israel reports protests and skirmishes broke out in the West Bank, Lebanon, and Jordan late Tuesday, as fury erupted over the explosion at the Gaza Strip hospital. Across the West Bank, hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the explosion, in which Israel has denied involvement. Palestinian forces in Ramallah fired tear gas at demonstrators who had gathered, calling for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to step down, apparently over his conciliatory tone since war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza began earlier this month.

Euronews quotes European Council President Charles Michel saying a total siege of Gaza was “not in line with international law”. He was commenting on Tuesday after EU heads of state met online to iron out their stance on the Israel-Hamas war. The extraordinary meeting was necessary to give EU leaders the opportunity to build “unity and coherence” over the crisis, Michel said, and to reiterate their support for Israel’s right to defend its sovereign territory whilst respecting the boundaries of international humanitarian law. Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela said that Malta’s position in favour of peace and against the killing of civilians was clear. He said Malta’s message was consistent; that international law needs to be upheld by all those involved, and that the just and comprehensive path for peace remains the two state solution.

EU deal on electricity market reform

EU energy ministers reached a long-awaited agreement on Tuesday on the so-called electricity market reform, aimed at protecting consumers from volatile prices and speeding up the deployment of renewables. Talks had stalled for months due to a standoff between France and Germany over so-called Contracts for Difference (CfDs), long-term contracts that would allow governments to capture the surplus revenues from energy producers when prices spike. Both sides reached a compromise, a week after French President Emmanuel Macron met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Hamburg to address their differences.

The highly anticipated deal on the reform of the European Union’s fiscal rules will not arrive until November at the very least, pushing the bloc closer to its end-of-the-year deadline. During a meeting of economic and finance ministers in Luxembourg, they said the diverging views around the table were still too far from each other, dashing any hopes for a breakthrough.

First-ever EU military exercise

Some 2,800 troops are this week taking part in the first-ever live European Union military exercise in a bid to boost the bloc’s ability to respond faster to crises outside its borders. Thirty-one units including maritime, air, land, space and cyber assets from Austria, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania and host country Spain are taking part in the week-long military exercise.

Photo: AP

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