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Daring Actions to Save Americans from Hamas
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he’s doing “a lot” to free the captives held by Hamas, including Americans, and he hasn’t given up hope, but he didn’t provide any details.
Speaking at a meeting of Jewish community leaders, he said, “We’re working on every aspect of the hostage crisis in Israel, including deploying experts for advice and assistance in repatriation efforts.” “Now, the press is yelling at me, and some of you, you know… you know what you’re doing to bring them home? Are you bringing these people home? If I told you, I couldn’t bring them home. Friends, we’re doing a lot, we’re doing a lot.”
He went on to say, “I haven’t given up hope on bringing these people home.” “But the idea that I would stand here in front of you and tell you what I’m doing, it’s bizarre. So, I hope you understand that attempting to answer that question would be very peculiar.”
Prior to this, the White House had stated that America is keeping “broad options open” for the release of Americans held captive by Hamas in Israel, but a spokesperson acknowledged they had no updates on their status or whereabouts.
Since the start of the fighting that began after Hamas initiated unprecedented and unexpected attacks on Saturday, at least 22 Americans have died in Israel. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said it’s unknown whether all 17 Americans are accounted for or missing.
According to White House spokesperson John Kirby, “Some of them” are being held captive by Hamas, and the public should be prepared for the possibility that the number of American citizens detained by terrorist groups will increase.
ABC News White House correspondent Mary Bruce asked Kirby if they could share any information about the status of the captives and whether the administration is in direct or indirect contact with Hamas to ensure their release.
“Now, where they are and in what condition, no,” Kirby replied, saying, “the administration does not have information about whether they are in one group or could be moved to a different location. It’s unfortunate that we don’t know. And it makes the effort much, much harder.”
He also told ABC White House correspondent Maryalice Parks, “We have no specific evidence of any specific proof of life for any captive.”
Kirby said that the United States is engaging with partners and allies in the region to discuss the release of captives with Hamas through diplomatic channels. When pressed on whether the United States has reached out to send any American forces to Gaza to help secure their release, Kirby said, “We don’t have enough information to make that kind of decision.”
Kirby noted that they are “casting a wide net” with partners and allies to discuss the captives. “We’re still keeping options broadly open because we’re getting more information, but we don’t have enough detail to make those options work.”
While familiar with recent overtures from Hamas leadership, officials say there is no real indication that Hamas is interested in participating in negotiations at this time. Despite Israel’s long history of prioritizing the lives of its citizens held captive, officials say there’s no current inclination on their part to cut a deal.