Biden Admin Tells Embassies They Can Lower Flag To Mourn Gaza Hospital Blast: Report

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Reuters)
October 19, 2023

The Biden administration told U.S. embassies around the world they can lower the American flag in mourning of a hospital blast in Gaza, an incident likely caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.

All diplomatic and consular posts across the globe received a memo from Secretary of State Antony Blinken that they can move the flag to half-staff "to observe national periods of mourning following an official proclamation by the host government with respect to the loss of innocent lives at the Al Ahli hospital blast on October 18," the Times of Israel reported

Blinken told U.S. diplomats in the memo to consider whether refusing to lower the flag "would expose the US Mission to added security risk and/or isolate the US Mission vis-à-vis like-minded embassies."

The State Department did not issue guidance on lowering flags in the aftermath of Hamas's Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel, according to the Times of Israel.

President Joe Biden said in Israel on Wednesday that he believes the Israeli explanation that the blast was caused by a rocket from the Gaza terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

"I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion of the hospital in Gaza yesterday, and based on what I've seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you," Biden said to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hamas has blamed an Israeli airstrike for the blast and claimed at least 500 were killed, but there has been no confirmation of the death toll at the hospital.