Joe Biden Confirms USA Death Toll Amid Israel Conflict, Admits to Americans Held Hostage by Hamas
President Joe Biden declared on October 10 that fourteen Americans had died in the conflict in Israel and that more Americans were among those being held captive by Hamas militants.
"We now know that American citizens are among those being held by Hamas," Biden said, per ABC News. "I've directed my team to share intelligence and deploy additional experts from across the United States government to consult with and advise Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery efforts. Because as president, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world."
Speaking at the White House, Biden expressed solidarity for Israel following Hamas's unexpected air, sea, and land incursion over the weekend. Since then, Israel has sent retaliatory airstrikes into Gaza and proclaimed a state of war. The toll of fatalities on both sides is rising. "It's heart-wrenching," Biden said in a statement. "These families have been torn apart by inexcusable hatred and violence."
Speaking at the White House alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Vice President Kamala Harris, the president said that the Israeli people had suffered "pure, unadulterated evil" at the "bloody hands" of Hamas, an organization that the United States has long labeled as a terrorist organization, per CBS News. The US President vehemently said that "we stand with Israel" and denounced the murderous strikes carried out by the Hamas militant group as an "act of sheer evil."
Biden emphasized, "In this moment, we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel. And we will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, to defend itself and to respond to this attack," Biden said. "There's no justification for terrorism. There's no excuse."
While the exact number of American hostages is unknown, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan estimated it to be at about 20 or so. "We will work hour-by-hour both to determine whether we can account for any of those Americans or to confirm exactly the number of Americans held hostage," Sullivan said. "We do not know the number of hostages we have at this time."
“We now know that American citizens are among those being held by Hamas.”— The Recount (@therecount) October 10, 2023
— Biden says U.S. intelligence is advising Israel on recovering hostages, and says he'll ask Congress to “fund the national security requirements of our critical partners” pic.twitter.com/8s1k1e8Kuz
"The safety of American citizens -- whether at home or abroad -- is my top priority as President. While we are still working to confirm, we believe it is likely that American citizens may be among those being held by Hamas," Biden continued. "I have directed my team to work with their Israeli counterparts on every aspect of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to consult with and advise Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery efforts," he added.
The president's comments followed Hamas's unexpected attack on Israel early on October 7. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have since reported that the attack resulted in at least 900 Israeli deaths and approximately 2,700 injuries. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the death toll in Gaza, which several human rights organizations have labeled an "open-air prison," is at least 900 dead, and 4,500 wounded, as retaliatory attacks by IDF continue.
President Biden showed forceful support for Israel during an address to the nation in which he vowed to do everything possible to free American hostages held by Hamas. pic.twitter.com/OnkHEPaMZ3— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) October 10, 2023
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