Washington, Oct 10 : US President Joe Biden has said “it is likely” the Hamas are holding Americans hostages even as he confirmed that 11 of their citizens had been killed by them during the conflict. The President is also scheduled to make a statement on the Israel-Palestine conflict from White House on Tuesday, an official said.
The announcement on Biden’s forthcoming statement has come exactly three days after the Hamas fighters infiltrated into Israeli territory and launched a surprise offensive, triggering an all-out war between the two sides that has left 1,600 dead to the last count.
The President said on Monday that 11 Americans had been killed in the Israel-Hamas war, and that “it is likely” Americans are among those being held hostage.
The State Department said it feared 1,600 people had died in the war.
Israel’s military on Tuesday claimed regaining control inside the country after it ordered a “full siege” of Gaza, under “Operation Sword”, to cut off supplies of food, gas or power into the densely populated area, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, according to media reports.
The US President’s scheduled statement comes on the back of fears, particularly among the Americans, as the Hamas fighters have threatened to execute the hostages if Israel did not stop bombing civilian targets in Gaza.
Some Americans who had made Israel their second home are suspected to be among the hostages, according to the US State Department.
The exact number of hostages taken by Hamas fighters is unknown.
No Americans have been confirmed to be among the hostages, but US National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby said that a number of Americans are unaccounted for and that it’s possible that they are among those being held hostage.
In a statement on Monday, Biden said at least 11 Americans had been killed in the Israel-Hamas war and that “it is likely” that some Americans are being held hostage.
“We are seeing the immense scale and reach of this tragedy,” Biden said.
“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. It is an outrage.”
The Biden administration has supported Israel and the President has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US would “continue to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself and its people.”
To support Israel and raise its morale, the Biden administration is dispatching ships from the Navy’s USS Gerald Ford Carrier Strike Group to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and officials plan to keep in place some F-16 and A-10 fighter jets that were previously scheduled to rotate out of the region, a US official told NBC News.
The move is intended to send a strong message to Hamas to “stand down”, an official said.
The death toll from the Israel-Hamas war has soared to more than 1,600 people as of Tuesday morning, three days since Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel territory ambushing their forces, according to officials.
More than 900 people died in Israel and at least 770 in Gaza, with over 6,000 people injured in Israel and Gaza, officials said.
Biden is expected to face competing pressures within and outside of the Democratic Party that will make it more difficult to keep his pledge to provide support for Israel’s plans to defend the country, media reports said.