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Updated Oct 10, 2023, 3:08pm EDT
Middle East

Biden confirms Hamas has American hostages

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the White House.
REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
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U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Americans are among those being held hostage by Hamas as fighting continues in Israel and Gaza.

It’s the first time the U.S. has confirmed that there are U.S. citizens among more than 100 hostages believed to be held by the militant group.

At least 14 Americans have been killed in the conflict, Biden said, marking an increase from the earlier death toll of 11.

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In a speech strongly condemning Hamas’s attack, Biden said that Israel has a “right to respond” to what he described as “an act of sheer evil” and a “human tragedy.”

On Saturday, Hamas militants lodged a massive attack on Israel, prompting Israel to declare war and launch retaliatory strikes on Gaza. More than 1,000 people have been killed in Israel, according to Biden and Israeli authorities, and at least 830 people have been killed in Gaza, per Palestinian officials.

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Biden said he directed U.S. officials to share intelligence and consult with their Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery efforts.

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“As president, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans being held hostage across the world,” he said.

The U.S. will also send additional rocket interceptors to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome program, Biden said.

“We will make sure Israel has what it needs,” he said. “There is no justification for terrorism. Hamas doesn’t stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity … they use Palestinian civilians as human shields.”

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U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that 20 or more American citizens are missing following the attack, but did not specify how many were being held hostage.

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