On Tuesday, President Joe Biden confirmed that American citizens are among those taken hostage by Hamas militants. Tragically, at least 14 Americans have lost their lives in the recent attacks by Hamas on Israel.
The assault by Hamas militants coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War 1973, a significant date in the region’s history. This latest wave of violence has resulted in the death of over 1,000 Israelis and left thousands injured.
Addressing the nation, with Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken by his side, President Biden expressed unwavering support for Israel. He emphasized the U.S.’s commitment to ensuring Israel’s right to defend itself against the threats posed by Hamas militants. However, he did not discuss the reported ties between Hamas and Iran, a nation believed by many, including sources like the Wall Street Journal, to be a significant financial supporter of Hamas and potentially involved in planning the recent attacks.
This surge in violence comes shortly after the Biden administration released $6 billion in Iranian funds previously held in Qatari banks. This was done in exchange for releasing five American prisoners from Iranian custody. Critics from the GOP had urged the administration to reconsider this decision. They argue that even if these funds are earmarked for humanitarian purposes, they indirectly enable the Iranian regime to allocate more resources to support regional terrorism.
When questioned about the funds, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated, “We have not yet had $1 of that six billion spent, and I will leave it at that.”
In light of the revelation about American hostages, President Biden assured the nation of the U.S.’s commitment to their safety. He announced plans to share intelligence and send experts to collaborate with Israeli officials on efforts to recover the hostages. “Because as president, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world,” President Biden declared.
However, he stopped short of demanding that Hamas release the American hostages. The families of the missing Americans expressed their expectations clearly, calling on Biden and Blinken to ensure their loved ones’ safe return.
The situation is dire. Hersh Goldberg-Polin, believed to be one of the hostages, was last seen at the Supernova music festival, a tragic event where 260 civilians lost their lives. Another American, Sagui Dekel-Chen, a soon-to-be father of three, has been missing since Saturday. Calls to his cell went unanswered.
President Biden strongly condemned the acts of terror by Hamas and pledged to provide Israel with ammunition and interceptors to bolster their Iron Dome defense system. He also mentioned his intention to request additional defense funding for Israel when Congress reconvenes.
In response to the rising tensions, security has been ramped up in Jewish communities across the U.S. to counter potential domestic threats. However, President Biden did not comment on the pro-Palestinian rallies that took place over the weekend supporting the Hamash terrorist.
The White House also took a firm stance against members of Congress who have expressed reservations about U.S. support for Israel. Representatives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley have called for de-escalation in the region. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded by emphasizing the administration’s unwavering condemnation of the acts of terror against Israelis. She stated that there can be no middle ground when it comes to terrorism.