OAKLAND, Calif. - President Biden begins his high-stakes trip into the Israel Hamas war zone Wednesday, already facing a setback.
The deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza City, that killed as many as 500 people according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, creates new diplomatic challenges and caused the cancelation of a critical summit in Jordan Wednesday with Arab leaders that was to include Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan's King Abdullah, and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The summit was to be an important part of Biden's trip, according to Michael Nacht, a former Assistant Defense Secretary and Professor Emeritus with the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy.
"King Abdullah might be the most important because he is in relative terms, the most cooperative of all the Arab leaders, the most supportive of a two-state solution, most supportive of peace between Israel and the Arab states," said Nacht, "If he is unable to meet with President Biden either, it shows how much the bombing of the hospital has riled up the population there."
Images emerged Tuesday of Palestinian civilians, bleeding and desperately needing medical care, being rushed to the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City Tuesday after another hospital in Gaza was hit by a massive explosion.
The Palestinian Health Ministry says as many oif the injured were being treated or were seeking shelter at the hospital.
The blast sent political shockwaves beyond Gaza's borders.
Hamas claimed it was an Israeli airstrike. Palestinians in Ramallah, West Bank filled the streets, outraged. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for three days of mourning.
Israeli officials said they do not target hospitals and late Tuesday the Israel Defense Forces blamed another militant group Islamic Jihad for the attack.
"Intelligence from a few sources that we have in our hands indicates that the Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza," said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson.
Professor Nacht says talks with Egypt are critical, as Egypt controls the only route for getting humanitarian aid into Gaza.
"Egypt wants tight control over who is admitted to their country and doesn't have great love for the Palestinians anyway and has had very limited support for Palestinians over the decades," said Nacht.
Professor Nacht says some behind-the-scenes diplomacy, perhaps with the country of Qatar is also a likely possibility, as the U.S. and Israel try to get hundreds of hostages including Americans being held by Hamas, safely home.