Death toll of Americans in Hamas atrocity jumps to at least 22 as eight more U.S. victims’ families are told their loved ones were murdered in the terror attack on Israel
The death toll continues to rise in Israel as the State Department confirmed that at least 22 Americans have been killed by Hamas terrorists.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and the families of all those affected,” a State Department official said Wednesday.
That number has risen since President Joe Biden said 14 Americans had been killed during a dramatic speech on Tuesday. He vowed to stand by Israel and denounce the “unadulterated evil” of terror attacks that killed more than 1,000 people over the weekend.
And there are at least 20 Americans who remain missing in Israel.
“We don’t know about their condition and we can’t confirm the exact number of American citizens,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday.
He noted that this does not mean that all have been captured by Hamas and are simply not accounted for.
Biden also confirmed that there are Americans being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.
“We now know that American citizens are among those being held by Hamas,” he said without elaborating.
An Israeli soldier walks past a dead Palestinian fighter as troops investigate the scene of an attack on the Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Aza on the border with the Gaza Strip
“There is no excuse for terrorism, no excuse. And the kind of terrorism that was exhibited here was beyond the pale,” Biden said
Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken is traveling to Israel this week to communicate directly with Israeli partners.
“The secretary looks forward to meeting with senior leaders of the Israeli government and continuing the discussions he and the president have had with them since the first attacks on Saturday,” spokesman Matthew Miller said Tuesday during a news conference.
The first planeload of ammunition to Israel from the US arrived earlier today.
Biden referred to the attack on Israel on Wednesday at the top of remarks about his administration’s work to root out “junk fees.”
He confirmed that he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the fourth time in recent days.
“There is no excuse for terrorism, no excuse. And the kind of terrorism that was exhibited here was beyond the pale,” Biden said.
“My commitment to the security of Israel and the security of the Jewish people is unwavering. The United States has Israel’s back, and we will be working on it all day long and beyond.”
The president had been criticized for a lackluster response to the crisis, holding a staff barbecue on Sunday and not appearing publicly on Monday.
But he broke his silence with a speech on Tuesday afternoon that dripped anger over the horrors unleashed by Hamas terrorists and warned that US citizens were among the civilians captured by the gunmen.
“You know there are times in this life — I mean that literally — when a pure, unadulterated evil is unleashed in this world,” he said Tuesday afternoon, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“The people of Israel experienced such a moment this weekend.”
The president listed the atrocities committed at the hands of Hamas.
“Parents were slaughtered using their bodies to try to protect their children,” he said.
“Stomach Reports of Baby Murders. Entire families were killed.
“Young people were massacred while attending a music festival to celebrate peace … to celebrate peace … women raped, assaulted, paraded as trophies.”
Israel pounded the Gaza Strip on Tuesday with the heaviest airstrikes in its 75-year conflict with the Palestinians, reducing the neighborhoods to dust despite a threat by Hamas militants to execute a prisoner for every strike at home.
Biden spoke to the nation after his third phone call in four days with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I told him, ‘If the United States experienced what you are experiencing, our response would be swift, decisive and overwhelming,'” Biden said during remarks Tuesday afternoon.
He said they discussed how democracies around the world are “safer when we act under the rule of law.”
A day earlier, the White House said it expected to fulfill additional security requests from Israel as soon as possible.
Biden joined Vice President Kamala Harris and senior security officials for a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the situation room before delivering his speech
US President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, makes remarks after a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Biden stopped short of specifically mentioning Iran during his speech, but warned hostile actors to “take advantage” of the situation
People mourn at the grave of Eden Guez, who was killed in a festival attack by Hamas gunmen that left at least 260 people dead, at her funeral in Ashkelon, southern Israel
Rockets fired from Gaza City (R) are intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system (L) on October 10, 2023
The president noted that Israel has a “right to respond – indeed a duty to respond to these savage attacks” and the US is already helping the nation, including by providing interceptors and Iron Dome munitions.
Biden said in his remarks that the US has “increased the posture of our military force in the region to enhance our deterrence”.
“The Department of Defense has moved the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the eastern Mediterranean and strengthened our fighter jet presence. And we stand ready to move on to additional assets as needed.”
Biden did not specifically mention Iran during his speech, but warned hostile actors to “take advantage” of the situation.
“Let me say again, any country, any organization that is thinking of taking advantage of the situation? I have a word, no.’
The White House has been cautious about placing direct blame on Iran for the attack that killed more than 1,000 Israelis.
Israeli soldiers remove the body of a compatriot killed during an attack by Hamas terrorists in Kfar Azza on Tuesday
A baby’s seat and child’s dress are seen covered in blood after the Hamas attack
A day earlier, White House National Security Press Secretary John Kirby went so far as to say that Iran was “complicit” in Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel.
The United States has no plans to put American military forces on the ground, Kirby also told reporters.
Biden went on to say he plans to ask Congress to quickly approve additional funding for the security of America’s allies.
“When Congress returns, we will ask them to take urgent action to fund the national security requirements of our important partners,” Biden said.
“This is not about party or politics. This is about the security of our world, the security of the United States of America.’
That question may prove more challenging than usual as the House of Representatives just ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a power vacuum remains. Infighting within the GOP could delay the process of confirming a new House leader for days.
And the House cannot proceed with any legislation without a speaker present.
Israel has called up an unprecedented 300,000 of its reservists.
Biden and Netanyahu, despite differences on the way forward in the Middle East, have been thrust into a wartime partnership following the multi-pronged attack by Hamas militants from Gaza into Israel.
Israel’s embassy in Washington said the death toll from the weekend’s Hamas attacks surpassed 1,000, ranking second to all modern Islamist attacks in the West since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Biden also addressed the possibility of threats inside the U.S., saying additional security measures are being put in place, especially at houses of worship.
“We are also taking measures at home, in cities across the United States of America. Police departments have stepped up security around the centers of Jewish life,” he said.
“The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are working closely with state and local law enforcement and Jewish community partners to identify and disrupt any insider threat that could arise in connection with these horrific attacks,” continued the president.
(tagsTo be translated)daily mail