The Biden administration is unaware of the status of 10 unaccounted-for Americans who disappeared after Hamas launched terrorist attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday.
During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” moderator Kristen Welker asked Blinken if he believed the 10 missing Americans were being held hostage.
“We don’t know. As you said, we’ve got 10 unaccounted-for Americans. We believe that some significant number are hostages,” Blinken said. “But, you know, what’s happening is — and it just underscores the horror — Israel continues to discover, uncover people who were killed, who were slaughtered — and I use that term very advisedly — slaughtered on October 7.”
He added, “So what we don’t know for sure is whether some of the unaccounted for are dead and have simply not been uncovered yet, or whether they’re hostage. But we have a pretty strong idea that some number of the 10 at least are being held in Gaza by Hamas.”
Biden Secretary of State Antony Blinken says they "don't know" the status of the ten Americans who remain unaccounted for following the Hamas terrorist attacks, but they "believe that some significant number are hostages" pic.twitter.com/JJHyFz1JwD
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 22, 2023
The Biden administration has reported more than 1,300 people, including 32 Americans, were killed in the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel.
On Friday, Blinken announced that 10 Americans remained unaccounted for and that at least some were among roughly 200 hostages still being held by Hamas. Blinken also said two Americans — who have been identified as Judith Tai Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie Raanan — were released by Hamas.
Blinken told Welker he could not explain why Hamas released the Raanans.
“We don’t know why Hamas chose to release Natalie and Judith first,” Blinken said. “And I use the word ‘first’ advisedly because again, we’re hopeful that more follow. I can’t speak to that. What I can speak to is our incessant efforts from day one to try to get people home, to try to get them out of Gaza back with their families and loved ones. That is continuing as we speak. This is something we’re engaged in virtually around the clock.”
“We are not in the business of second-guessing what they’re doing,” Blinken said. “We are talking to them on a regular basis about how they do it. It’s vitally important that every measure be taken to protect civilians, that humanitarian assistance gets in to people who are caught in this crossfire of Hamas’s making.”
He added, “And of course, both of us want to make sure that the many hostages who’ve been taken come on. And that’s why we’re working on it as I said virtually every minute of the day. But these are decisions that Israel has to make. We can give our best advice and judgment again about how they do it and how best to achieve the results they’re seeking.”