Washington: President Joe Biden delivered a sorrowful announcement, saying that the ongoing struggle between the militant organization Hamas and Israel had claimed the lives of at least 11 Americans, many of whom had adopted Israel as a second home. In a statement made public by the White House on Monday, the President, who was deeply moved by the magnitude of the tragedy, spoke of the horrifying terrorist attack and the hundreds of innocent lives lost.
“As we recount the atrocities of the horrifying terrorist attack against Israel this past weekend and the hundreds of innocent civilians who perished, our hearts hurt. The president said, “Unfortunately, we now know that at least 11 American citizens were among those slaughtered, many of whom made a second home in Israel.
Biden also acknowledged that there were American citizens who still remain unaccounted for.
“We are working with Israeli officials to obtain more information as to their whereabouts.”
He went on to say that “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. 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 US government on hostage recovery efforts,” Biden added.
He also said that the State Department is currently providing consular assistance and updated security alerts.
“For those who desire to leave, commercial flights and ground options are still available. Please also take sensible precautions in the days ahead and follow the guidance of local authorities,” the President urged.
Biden also informed that security has been heightened at Jewish centers and facilities across the US, while the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies were closely monitoring for “any domestic threats in connection with the horrific terrorist attacks in Israel”.
The statement came a day before the President is scheduled to deliver remarks on the conflict on Tuesday, according to a White House official.
The address is expected to be around 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon (about 10.30 p.m. IST).
This will mark the second time Biden will speak on camera about the attacks since Hamas launched its deadly assault on southern Israel on October 7.
Also on Monday, Biden spoke with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the UK.
In a joint statement, the countries expressed “steadfast and united support” for Israel and “unequivocal condemnation” of Hamas and, “it’s appalling acts of terrorism”.