Washington: As many as 22 Americans have lost their lives in Hamas’ attack on Israel and 17 remain unaccounted for, the White House said Wednesday, and added that the figure is likely to increase in the coming days.
National Seccurity Advisor Jake Sullivan said more Americans could be among those taken held hostage by Palestinian militant group Hamas, adding that the US communicating with Israel on recovery of hostages.
“We know that, so far, 22 Americans lost their lives and 17 remain unaccounted for. We know that these numbers are likely to increase in the days ahead,” said John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House.
Earlier, the US government had confirmed the deaths of 14 Americans in the attack.
This attack, Sullivan told reporters, has brought to the surface painful memories and the scars left by millennia of antisemitism and genocide of the Jewish people.
“We have a little bit better sense today of how many more Americans are unaccounted for or missing. We know that a number of those Americans are being held hostage right now by Hamas. I think we all need to steel ourselves for the very distinct possibility that these numbers will keep increasing and that we may, in fact, find out that more Americans are part of the hostage pool,” he said.
Over 1,200 people have been killed in Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel, which has countered with airstrikes in Gaza in which around 1,00 people have been killed.
“Our message to all these families affected is that: you know, we’re with you. We’re grieving with you. We’re sorrowful with you. We’re worrying about you. We are going to do everything we can, particularly for those who don’t know where a loved one is, to find out where they are and to get them home with you where they belong. That includes, of course, being willing to assist in advice or counsel when it comes to hostage-recovery efforts,” he said.
“Now, of course, the Israelis have a very robust hostage-recovery capability of their own. Sadly, they have been forced to perfect that particular kind of capability. But we also have a lot of know-how too, and we’re offering to share that with the Israeli Defense Forces,” Kirby said.
The US is also sharing additional defense-related support to Israel. The US has been able to replenish some of its Iron Dome interceptor missiles. “These were missiles that we already had in stock in Israel. We simply just transferred ownership over to the Israeli Defense Forces. So, again, more aid, more assistance will be coming in the coming days,” the NSA said.
Aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and her strike group are now in the Eastern Mediterranean. They arrived on Tuesday. “They are there for deterrence purposes to make it clear to any would-be actor, organisation, group, terrorist network, nation state — anybody who thinks that, with hostile intent towards Israel that this is the time to widen and expand the conflict — that we will take our national security interests seriously,” he said.
The bottomline is that the US is sending a loud and clear message that should any actor hostile to Israel or trying to escalate or widen the war, the US is ready to take action against them, Kirby said.
“We’re also going to continue to talk to our Israeli partners about their needs to ensure, again, that they have what they require to defend their country and their people. And that’s just not going to stop. In fact, it’s almost an hourly conversation that we’re having with our counterparts,” he said. (Agencies)