U.S. Looking Into Reports of Killed Americans or Captured in Israel Conflict: Blinken
A number of Americans are among those killed in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza, a spokesperson for The National Security Council confirmed to MSNBC Sunday night.
A statement citing a spokesperson for The National Security Council and read on air by reporter Allie Raffa verified earlier reports from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday: “Several Americans were killed. We’re working overtime to verify that.”
The latest National Security Council statement extended the administration’s “deepest condolences to the victims and the families of all those affected and wish those injured a speedy recovery.”
The statement added: “We continue to monitor the situation closely and remain in touch with our Israeli partners particularly the local authorities.”
The State Department is prepared to provide consular assistance for American citizens in Israel, it said, while issuing new travel advisories in response to the attacks.
The updated advisories list Gaza as a “Do Not Travel” area and Israel and West Bank as “Exercise Increased Caution” zones.
A National Security Council spokesperson also confirmed the deaths to The New York Times on condition of anonymity.
The number of dead or injured has not been confirmed but the State Department is aware of at least three Americans that have been killed in the ongoing Israel attacks, according to an internal government memo reported on by CNN Sunday.
The violence in Israel and Gaza has left hundreds dead and thousands injured since Saturday, according to The New York Times, when Hamas terrorists launched attacks by air, land, and sea on Israeli cities and took scores of soldiers and citizens hostage. Israel responded with bomb strikes along the Gaza Strip, and its security cabinet declared a state of war on Sunday.
Blinken described the conflict as “the worst attack on Israel since the Yom Kippur war in 1973” and said he has been in constant communication with the Israeli government since the strikes began. “We have been on the phones throughout our government over the last 24 hours, engaging everyone in the region and well beyond, both to make sure that there is support for Israel and that every country is using every effort to pull Hamas back and to prevent this from escalating,” Blinken said.
The secretary chose not to discuss the intelligence failures that led to the surprise assault on Israel, telling ABC’s This Week that “there will be time” to hold a postmortem. But the immediate focus needed to be on repelling Hamas militants, he said—despite the close relationship between U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies, both of which appeared not to foresee the ambush.
“The intensity of the fighting is real,” Blinken told George Stephanopoulos. “And we had about 1,000 Hamas militants who infiltrated Israel, most of them seem to have either been killed or have gone back into into Gaza. But as I said, intensifying remains. So that’s the focus and the focus is also on taking steps to make sure to the best of their ability for Israel, that this doesn’t repeat itself.”
More than 413 Palestinians and up to 700 Israelis are thought to have been killed in the Hamas attack so far.
Other foreigners reportedly killed during the attacks include a woman from France, two nationals from Thailand, a man from Britain killed Saturday on the Gaza border and two from Ukraine.