The US secretary of State warned on Sunday that the Biden administration has received reports indicating that “several” Americans may be among the missing or dead in Israel as the conflict between Hamas and the Israeli government has begun anew.
Antony Blinken said on NBC’s Meet the Press that the US government was working to verify those reports, and pledged that the Biden administration would make the release of any Americans held by Hamas a “top priority”.
“We are very actively working to verify those reports,” he said.
Reports from Israel indicate that a number of civilians were killed and others taken hostage when militants aligned with Hamas struck military bases, police stations and other targets over the weekend. Videos and eyewitness accounts report that, in one of several similar instances, militants opened fire at a music festival and took some hostages during the attack.
Seperately, on ABC News, Mr Blinken argued that Israel should put in place “measures” to ensure that such an attack cannot be repeated. Many have already questioned how Hamas militants were able to infiltrate Israeli territory so deeply despite the far greater resources of Israel’s defence force.
The death toll from the renewed conflict has already climbed into the hundreds on both sides as Israel and its western allies vow a massive response to the attacks that appeared to catch the nation completely by surprise. Human rights groups are warning that Israel’s counterattack runs the risk of killing more civilians in Gaza, where many have no place to escape the carnage.
Mr Blinken also referenced reports that indicated a Holocaust survivor may be among the Israeli citizens taken by Hamas militants over the weekend.
"Men and women and children dragged across the border into Gaza, including a Holocaust survivor in a wheelchair. People gunned down in the streets, civilians,” said Mr Blinken on Sunday, callin the Hamas attack “something that revolts the entire world.”
The situation across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories remains fluid and tense as hostilities continue in and around the Gaza Strip. The exact number of hostages taken by militants remains unknown, while reports of deaths and injuries have continued to pour in.
Complicating the situation is the complete dissolution of any sense of reality on Elon Musk’s Twitter/X, where old videos of past Israel-Hamas conflict and outright misinformation has intermixed seamlessly with news reporting and actual journalism. Over the weekend, a doctored White House press release was circulated falsely claiming that Joe Biden had unilaterally approved billions of dollars in new security assistance to Israel’s military.
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