Jordan has raised alarms about the perilous state of the Middle East, pointing to the escalating death toll in the ongoing Israel-Hamas confrontation and intensified global efforts to prevent it from becoming a wider regional conflagration.
In the lead-up to a key meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Amman this Wednesday, Jordan’s King Abdullah emphasized the critical need for humanitarian aid to Gaza. He also highlighted Jordan’s position against accommodating Palestinian refugees. “The entire region teeters on the edge,” King Abdullah remarked during a press event in Berlin, alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “The potential for this conflict to expand is tangible; the repercussions are monumental for all.”
On Tuesday, the Gaza-based Health Ministry, overseen by Hamas, announced that approximately 200 lives were lost due to an explosion at a Gaza City hospital, attributing the incident to an Israeli airstrike. This claim is currently unverified by The New York Times. When approached, the Israeli Defense Forces did not provide an immediate response to the report.
The increasing hostilities in Gaza, a result of Israeli military action following a Hamas offensive this month, has seen Israel blaming Iran for fanning the flames, particularly along its northern frontier with Lebanon.
Following Tehran’s recent alert that its allied militants might initiate strikes, altercations between the Israeli Defense Forces and Iran-supported militia, Hizbollah, have surged. The IDF has publicly held Lebanon accountable for any acts of terror originating from its land.
In a later visit to Tel Aviv, Scholz stated the importance of preventing the conflict from engulfing the region, and highlighted discussions with Israeli and Egyptian leaders about facilitating aid to Gaza. Scholz warned external parties against meddling, terming such an act a colossal and unforgivable error.
In an effort to deter potential aggressions from Iran and Hizbollah, the U.S. has dispatched two aircraft carrier groups. Furthermore, an additional 2,000 American troops are on standby.
The forthcoming summit in Amman will witness the participation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority’s president. Before the summit, President Biden will journey to Israel in a show of unity and to potentially influence the ongoing conflict’s trajectory.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed an agreement with Israel to formulate a plan to distribute aid in Gaza and possibly establish safe zones.
The efforts to establish safe corridors in Gaza’s south for aid delivery are ongoing, with the U.S. also exploring exit routes for third-country nationals. Nevertheless, the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, vital for refugee movement and humanitarian assistance, remains shut.
While Israel seems willing to allow departures to Egypt, it remains apprehensive about allowing humanitarian assistance. Egypt, on the other hand, seems ready to accept aid but is restrictive regarding refugee admissions.
King Abdullah reaffirmed that accepting refugees remains non-negotiable for both Jordan and Egypt. “The issue of refugees should be addressed within Gaza and the West Bank, and should not be imposed on others,” he declared.
In the aftermath of the Hamas onslaught on October 7, which resulted in over 1,400 Israeli fatalities, Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza. This has left the territory without consistent electricity for nearly a week, leading to a water crisis.
The Israeli military asserts that Hamas has captured 199 individuals. Palestinian health officials claim over 3,000 fatalities from Israeli bombardments in Gaza, with more than 1,000 still unaccounted for amid the debris.
On Tuesday, Palestinian sources reported that overnight Israeli airstrikes claimed over 70 lives in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis and surrounding regions.
A UN-affiliated school in central Gaza also suffered a direct hit, resulting in a minimum of six casualties, an act the UN deemed “a blatant disregard for civilian life.”