US President Joe Biden says at least 11 Americans were killed in the surprise Hamas attack on Israel and other US citizens are likely among those being held hostage in Gaza.
“We now know that at least 11 American citizens were among those killed — many of whom made a second home in Israel,” he says.
Biden says US officials are working with Israel on “hostage recovery efforts.”
“American citizens still remain unaccounted for, and we are working with Israeli officials to obtain more information as to their whereabouts,” Biden says in a statement.
“It’s heart-wrenching. These families have been torn apart by inexcusable hatred and violence,” he adds.
The president says that the State Department is providing consular services to US citizens still in Israel and says commercial flights are available, albeit limited.
“The safety of American citizens — whether at home or abroad — is my top priority as president,” Biden says.
“This is not some distant tragedy,” Biden stresses. “The ties between Israel and the United States run deep. It is personal for so many American families who are feeling the pain of this attack, as well as the scars inflicted through millennia of antisemitism and persecution of Jewish people.”
The president notes that police have stepped up security in cities across the US and authorities are closely monitoring domestic threats in connection to the terror attacks in Israel.
“In this moment of heartbreak, the American people stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israelis. We remember the pain of being attacked by terrorists at home, and Americans across the country stand united against these evil acts that have once more claimed innocent American lives,” Biden says.
The US and Israel are “inseparable partners, and I affirmed to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu again when we spoke yesterday that the US will continue to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself and its people,” the president adds.