White House scant on details of 'very small' number of American hostages caught in Israel-Hamas war
By The Citizen on October 11, 2023
The White House said Wednesday that details are scant regarding the location and conditions of Americans it believes are being held hostage by Hamas following the terrorist attacks against Israel.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that there are a “very small” number of Americans believed to be held as hostages, but that he wasn’t aware of proof of life and he couldn’t provide details about their whereabouts or condition. So far, the administration has determined 17 Americans to be unaccounted for, and it is unclear precisely among those how many may be held hostage. The administration on Wednesday also updated the number of Americans killed to 22.
“Of the 17 that … we know are missing, right now — and again, this I going to change — right now, we think the number that we know, or we believe are held hostage, is very small, very small, like less than a handful. But that could change over time,” Kirby said.
“We just don’t have a lot of granularity on where the people are or what condition they might be in or whether they’re being moved,” he added. “So, I truly wish I had more that I could provide, because there are a lot of families out there really, really worried.”
Kirby said that the U.S. is working with the Israelis, as well as the families of the hostages and unaccounted for Americans, to help bring hostages home.
It’s “tough, tough to get more detail. We’re obviously talking to the Israelis about what they might know. They’re on the ground and they’ve, unfortunately, had to deal with this sort of a scenario before. They been tremendously forthcoming with the information that they have,” he said.
Kirby said there are conversations with family members who may have known where their loved ones were or who were with them when they were abducted.
Kirby added that the U.S. is “casting a wide net” to get support from other countries in the region to save American hostages, including allies in the region.
When asked if President Biden has ruled out sending any American forces into Gaza to help secure the hostages’ release, Kirby said that no decisions have been made on that.
“We haven’t made any decisions about hostage recovery at this time. We just don’t also have enough information … to be able to make decisions like that,” he said.
“We’ll do everything we can anywhere around the world to make sure Americans held hostage have a path home,” he added. “We’re casting a wide net. We’re also keeping the options wide open right now as we get more information. We just don’t have enough granularity to be able to fine tune those options.”