US President Joe Biden has said an explosion that killed hundreds in a hospital in Gaza appears to not have been caused by Israel but “by the other team”.
“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” Mr Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in Tel Aviv.
“But there’s a lot of people out there who are not sure, so we have got to overcome a lot of things.”
“The world is looking. Israel has a value set like the United States does, and other democracies, and they are looking to see what we are going to do,” he added.
He said he was “sad and outraged” by the strike which killed up to 500 people – triggering worldwide protests.
Hamas called it a “crime of genocide” and has blamed it on Israel.
Israel has denied any involvement and has said the blast was caused by a misfired rocket – launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group.
However, it too has rejected responsibility for the explosion.
It happened just before Mr Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday on a desperate diplomatic mission to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from spiralling into a broader regional conflict.
He said on Wednesday that Washington would provide Israel with everything it needs to defend itself against the militant faction of Hamas.
Mr Netanyahu thanked his US counterpart for his “unequivocal support”.
The US leader arrived in Tel Aviv to show Israel the US’s support for its war against Hamas.
However, the second half of his visit to the Middle East – a summit between himself and Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian leaders in Amman, which would have focused on getting humanitarian assistance into Gaza while working towards calming tensions in the region – was cancelled following the bombing.
The fireball that engulfed the Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital delivered some of the most harrowing images yet from the ongoing 12-day war.
Around 350 casualties were rushed from the blast site to Gaza City’s main hospital, al Shifa, already overwhelmed with those injured from other strikes, said its director, Mohammed Abu Selmia.
Israel’s military released what it claimed is evidence – including drone footage and an intercepted conversation – that it said proves an Islamist militant group was responsible for the bombing and not an Israeli airstrike.
It has not been possible to independently verify the audio recording published by the Israeli military of “communication between terrorists talking about rockets misfiring”.
It is the deadliest single event of the Israel-Hamas war so far.
After Mr Biden backed the Israeli account, other Western leaders also called for caution.
“Last night, too many jumped to conclusions around the tragic loss of life at Al Ahli hospital,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Getting this wrong would put even more lives at risk. Wait for the facts, report them clearly and accurately.
“Cool heads must prevail,” he added.