President Joe Biden confirmed the tragic loss of at least 11 American lives on the third day of a shocking and intricate surprise attack by Palestinian militants in Israel.
In a solemn statement, President Biden conveyed the heartbreaking consequences of what he termed an “appalling terrorist assault against Israel.”
Furthermore, he expressed concern that American citizens might be held as prisoners by the Hamas militant group.
Biden affirmed that the United States is actively collaborating with Israel to address this hostage crisis.
“This is not some distant tragedy,” the president said in his statement.
“The ties between Israel and the United States run deep. It is personal for so many American families who are feeling the pain of this attack,” the president added.
The identities of the dead Americans were not immediately released, and it was unclear if any were from New York, which is home to about 1.6 million Jews.
Meng, a Democrat who represents much of central and eastern Queens, wrote a letter to the State Department asking it to “use all resources at its disposal” to help Americans in Israel return to the U.S.
A spokesman for Meng, Jordan Goldes, said a “handful” of Meng’s constituents were in Israel.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Brooklyn Democrat, said in a statement late Sunday night that he had been briefed on the rising American death tally—then four—and that it would rise.
“The viciousness and brutality of this unprecedented attack from Hamas targeting innocent civilians—children, families, seniors—is overwhelming and heartbreaking,” added Schumer, who is Jewish and is currently on a trip to China.
One New York City congressman, Dan Goldman, was in Israel when the fighting began, having made a trip for a family Bar Mitzvah, his office said.
Goldman and his family “sheltered from Hamas rocket fire in their hotel’s interior stairwell until early Sunday morning,” his spokesman, Simone Kanter, said in a statement.
Goldman, who represents lower Manhattan and sections of Brooklyn, returned to New York City on Sunday afternoon, Kanter said.
In his statement, Biden said, “The safety of American citizens—whether at home or abroad—is my top priority.”
“I have directed my team to work with their Israeli counterparts on every aspect of the hostage crisis,” Biden added.
He said the directive included “sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to consult with and advise Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery efforts.”