Biden’s Israel speech: President confirms US citizens held hostage by Hamas and 14 Americans killed in attacks on Israel

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

US President Joe Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, comment from the White House State Dining Room after speaking by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the situation in Israel following the deadly attacks by Hamas We do. Home in Washington, US October 10, 2023. Reuters/Jonathan Ernst


President Joe Biden confirmed on Tuesday that Americans were among those taken hostage following a Hamas terror attack over the weekend, and said the known number of Americans killed is now 14.

The president made the announcement during an afternoon speech from the White House, where he described the horror of the attack in emotional terms.

Biden, who previously spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, offered his vision of what the country’s response could look like.

“I told them that if the United States experienced what Israel is experiencing, our response would be swift, decisive and overwhelming,” Biden told the state dining room.

The president said he wants to ask Congress to approve more funding to help Israel defend its territory and people. He promised that his administration would not let Israel run out of ammunition and interceptors for its Iron Dome air defense system, which is intended to shoot down rockets from the air before they strike Israeli territory.

“My administration has consulted closely with Congress throughout this crisis,” he said. “When Congress returns, I’m going to ask them to take immediate action to fund the national security needs of our vital partners. “This is not about party or politics, this is about the security of our world, the security of the United States of America.”

But he also stressed that any response must follow the rule of law, saying that is what separates Israel and the United States from Hamas militants.

“Terrorists deliberately target civilians, kill them. We follow the rules of war. It matters. There is a difference,” Biden said.

Biden’s comments Tuesday were the most concrete since the violence erupted early Saturday. The president was on the phone with Netanyahu within hours of Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel, which killed hundreds of people.

When Biden’s counterpart — battling one of the worst attacks on his country in decades — raised the possibility of going to Gaza, the president did not warn him against doing so, an American with knowledge of the conversation said. the official told CNN.

Officials say the president’s decision — to step back from urging Netanyahu to exercise restraint in the immediate aftermath of the attacks — reflects in no small part the sheer shock and magnitude of Hamas’s brutal attack on Israel that this moment Makes it different.

“We are not urging restraint right now,” one official said.

The President and his national security team are keenly aware that the likelihood of an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza is increasing. Over the past 72 hours, officials have acknowledged what a difficult position this prospect puts the administration in. As a general matter, the US has historically urged a ceasefire from all sides when conflict has erupted in the region.

The Biden administration typically intends to handle these types of discussions very privately, and officials said this time will be no different. Biden’s first written statement over the weekend did not include the word “ceasefire” — an omission that irked current and former administration officials alike.

During his speech, Biden said the violence perpetrated by Hamas was reminiscent of some of the worst attacks by ISIS in the last decade.

“The brutality of Hamas, this thirst for blood, is reminiscent of the worst, most horrific atrocities of ISIS – this is terrorism, but sadly, it is not new to the Jewish people,” Biden said. “This attack has brought to the surface painful memories and wounds of anti-Semitism and the genocide of the Jewish people over the millennia, so in this moment, we must be absolutely clear, we stand with Israel.”

Domestically, he said, law enforcement officials have “increased security around centers of Jewish life,” while “state and local law enforcement have stepped up efforts to identify and disrupt any domestic threats that may emerge in connection with these horrific attacks.” “Working closely with enforcement and Jewish community partners.” ,

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