Following an Israeli strike on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, Jordan has cancelled a high-level summit with US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. At least 500 people, the majority among them women and children, were killed in the Gaza hospital strike.

In addition to the hospital, a UN-run school housing refugees was also hit in the attack. The scale of the casualties and the destruction of critical civilian infrastructure have prompted calls for an immediate ceasefire from Arab representatives at the United Nations.

Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas had already withdrawn from the scheduled summit.

Spontaneous protests have erupted across the Middle East and in major cities worldwide in response to the devastating strike, with demonstrators demanding an end to the violence.

World leaders have widely condemned the situation, emphasising the need for an urgent de-escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a call for an “immediate” ceasefire during a forum for the Belt and Road infrastructure project in Beijing, China.

US President Joe Biden, who is visiting the region, initially expressed full support for Israel, framing their actions as self-defence against a Hamas attack. However, the situation has evolved, with Israel now accused of targeting civilians in the hospital explosion. Israel denies responsibility for the attack on al-Ahli Hospital.

White House spokesperson John Kirby revealed that the US President plans to ask tough questions from his ally, Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden was initially scheduled to hold discussions with the Israeli Prime Minister and meet with the families of those killed, and individuals taken captive by Hamas. However, the president now faces the challenging task of balancing support for Israel while addressing concerns about Palestinian civilians and launching an independent investigation into the hospital explosion.

In the ongoing military offensive, Israeli forces have killed over 3,000 Palestinians since Hamas’ 7 October attack inside Israel, which resulted in more than 1,400 casualties.