A deleted post on Saturday from a Biden administration State Department office urged Israel to stand down following the deadly terrorist attacks from Hamas.
The post from the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs, which garnered backlash from lawmakers and others on social media, was quickly deleted, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
“We unequivocally condemn the attack of Hamas terrorists and the loss of life that has incurred. We urge all sides to refrain from violence and retaliatory attacks. Terror and violence solve nothing,” the now-deleted post read.
After it was deleted, the office posted a statement saying it was “monitoring” the situation and urged U.S. citizens to “remain vigilant.” It later reposted Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement that the U.S. “unequivocally condemn[s]” the attacks.
“This tweet was not approved and does not represent U.S. policy,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said regarding the tweet, ABC News reported. “The United States condemns the terrorist attack against Israel and unequivocally supports Israel’s right to defend itself, as the President and Secretary have both made clear.”
The post was widely criticized by Republicans in Congress, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Reps. Claudia Tenney of New York, Michael Waltz of Florida, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, and Andy Ogles of Tennessee, among others.
Waltz called the statement “despicable” and said it “shows some of our bureaucrats’ true colors,” while Cruz described it as “disgraceful” and called on anyone connected to drafting and posting the message to be “immediately expelled from the U.S. government.” Tenney similarly called for whoever was behind the post to be fired immediately.
“There can be no equivocation: Israel is the victim and has every right to defend itself from terrorism,” Diaz-Balart posted to X. “I’m proud that my [State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs] bill, which passed the House last week, defunds this counterproductive office, and I urge the Senate to do the same. In the meantime, Biden should disavow this statement immediately.”
Estimates project that roughly 600 people have died and more than 2,000 have been injured in Israel since Hamas launched a surprise attack from Gaza on Saturday morning, ABC reports. The initial attack included rocket barrages and sending militants across the border.
The Israeli government’s press office said Sunday that Hamas has taken at least 100 soldiers and citizens hostage. Blinken told CNN “State of the Union” host Dana Bash that reports suggest Americans have been killed and kidnapped.
“We have reports that several Americans were killed,” Blinken said. “We’re working overtime to verify that. At the same time, there are reports of missing Americans and there again, we’re working to verify those reports,”
Israel formally declared war against Hamas on Sunday, the first time since 1973 that the country has done so. The formal declaration allows Israel to conduct “significant military activities.” It follows earlier statements from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “We are at war, not in an operation or in rounds, but at war.”
“I have ordered an extensive mobilization of reserves and that we return fire of a magnitude that the enemy has not known. The enemy will pay an unprecedented price,” the Israeli prime minister said Saturday. “In the meantime, I call on the citizens of Israel to strictly adhere to the directives of the IDF and Home Front Command. We are at war and we will win it.”