US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to offer condolences over a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital and voice support for Palestinians’ “legitimate aspirations,” the State Department said Wednesday.
Blinken, who is on a regional crisis tour, spoke by telephone with Abbas late Tuesday after the strike on the Ahli Arab Hospital, hours after meeting him in person in Amman.
Blinken called Abbas “to express profound condolences for the civilian lives lost in the explosion” at the hospital, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
Blinken “expressed continuing US support for the Palestinian people, stressing that Hamas terrorists do not represent Palestinians or their legitimate aspirations for self-determination and equal measures of dignity, freedom, security and justice,” Miller said.
Health authorities in Hamas-ruled Gaza, said the explosion killed between 200 and 300 people and was caused by the latest in a wave of Israeli air strikes.
The Israeli military blamed Palestinian militants, saying an outgoing Islamic Jihad rocket misfired. Islamic Jihad denied the allegation and neither account could be independently corroborated.
Blinken’s call came as the hospital blast prompted Jordan to call off a summit planned in Amman involving Abbas, US President Joe Biden and the leaders of Jordan and Egypt.
Blinken — who headed Wednesday to Israel to join Biden on a visit — has met twice during his regional tour with Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority is based in the West Bank and who opposes Hamas.
Protests erupted against Abbas in the West Bank following the hospital blast.