Biden tells families of Americans being held by Hamas that US is working to secure their release

The US is providing Israel with support to recover hostages, including intelligence and operational expertise

Andrew Feinberg
Friday 13 October 2023 16:21 EDT
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President Joe Biden on Friday assured the families of American citizens who’ve been taken hostage by Hamas that his administration is undertaking efforts to secure their freedom.

Mr Biden described his interactions with the missing Americans’ relatives during an appearance in Philadelphia as he began remarks about his administration’s economic policies.

He said the interactions had been on a Zoom call that lasted for roughly an hour and 15 minutes, and said the family members are ”going through agony not knowing what the status of their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, children are”.

He called the situation “gut-wrenching,” and said he’d “assured” them of his “personal commitment” to “do everything possible to return every missing American to their families”.

“We’re working around the clock to secure the release of Americans held by Hamas, in close cooperation with Israel and our partners around the region,” he said. “We’re not going to stop until we bring them home”.

Earlier in the day, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that Mr Biden participated in the call alongside his national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Karstens, Undersecretary of State John Bass and the National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East, Brett McGurk.

He said “a couple of family members” from families of the 14 known American hostages were on the call, during which Mr Biden “conveyed directly to these families that they have been in his prayers and reaffirmed for them that the United States government is doing everything possible” to determine where their family members are and bring them home.

“Several of the family members shared information about their loved one’s personal stories and experiences that they have gone through as they endure the unimaginable,” Mr Kirby added.

US officials say the government has confirmed the deaths of 27 US nationals in the wave of attacks by Hamas which began early Saturday morning when terrorists began storming Israeli territory by land, air and sea.

Israeli officials have said more than 1,000 of their citizens — including civilians and military personnel — were killed in the attacks, the worst loss of life in Israel in decades.

Hamas is believed to have taken more than 100 captives in the attacks and has threatened to execute them in response to any Israeli attack on Gaza.

Mr Kirby, the National Security Council spokesperson, said US and Israeli officials are still working to determine where the hostages may be held and under what conditions.

“That’s the first thing that you got to do to be able to come up with policy options and and alternatives to try to try to get them home with their families,” he said.

He added that US and Israeli officials “aren’t going to be able to publicly talk a lot about what we know and what we’re doing”,

“I hope you understand that as as things move along here. We’re going to we’re going to be sufficiently prudent in the kinds of information that we talk about publicly lest we actually jeopardise the effort, get these hostages released and back home safely,” he said.

“Nothing’s more important to us than getting them home. and sometimes the way to do that is to shut your yap. And so we’re going to probably be shutting our yap a little bit as we get as we get further along”.

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