Americans May Be Among Those Killed and Taken Hostage in Israel: Secretary of State Antony Blinken
U.S. officials are working to confirm reports that Americans are among those killed or taken hostage by Hamas during its Saturday attack into southern Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday.
In an interview with NBC News’ Kristen Welker, Blinken said the Biden administration was “very actively working” to confirm reports that “several Americans” are among those killed over the weekend. “Similarly,” he added, “we’ve seen reports about hostages and again, we’re very actively trying to verify them, and nail that down.”
Several Israeli media outlets have reported that at least 600 people have been killed so far this weekend in Israel. The Government Press Office, which operates under the authority of the Prime Minister, said Sunday on Facebook that 100 people had been taken hostage in Gaza. Gaza’s Health Ministry has reported over 300 people killed in the territory, including 20 children.
Reports of American hostages among those taken were confirmed by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, in a Sunday morning interview with CBS host Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation. Asked whether Americans were among the hostages taken by Hamas, Herzog said, “I understand there are, but I don’t have details.” He added that he wasn’t able to confirm any specific numbers, but said that there are “probably dozens of kidnapped Israelis and others in the hands of Hamas.”
Brennan asked Herzog, “At what cost?” Israel is prepared to get hostages out of Gaza. The ambassador replied that it was “premature” to discuss the issue. “We’ll have to deal with it in due time,” he said. “It’s a very complicated situation. But I think it’s premature to discuss any deals or prices or whatever. Right now, we are at war.”
Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau, told Al-Jazeera on Saturday that Hamas had captured enough senior Israeli military leaders in exchange for the freedom of all Palestinians currently imprisoned in Israeli jails. “Our detainees in [Israeli] prisons, their freedom is looming large. What we have in our hands will release all our prisoners,” he said. The longer the fighting continues, the higher the number of prisoners will become.”
Palestinian Prisoner rights group Addameer reports that there are currently over 5,000 Palestinian people in Israeli jails, including 33 women and 170 children.