President Joe Biden addressed the Hamas terror attacks in Israel during a speech from the White House Tuesday, pledging the support of the U.S. and saying that at least 14 American citizens had been killed and that some were being held hostage.
Biden condemned the “brutality of Hamas” calling it “abhorrent” and comparing it to ISIS terrorism.
“Women raped, assaulted, paraded as trophies, families hid their fear for hours and hours desperately trying to keep their children quiet to avoid drawing attention,” Biden said during the speech, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris on one side and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the other.
“And thousands of wounded, alive but carrying with them the bullet holes and the shrapnel wounds and the memory of what they endured,” Biden added.
The number of dead, wounded and captured has steadily risen, and fighting is still going on. Biden said Hamas has threatened to kill its hostages.
“In this moment we must be crystal clear,” Biden said. “We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel, and we will make sure it has what it needs to take care of its citizens, to defend itself and respond to this attack. There is no justification for terrorism.”
Over the weekend, Hamas terrorists fired thousands of rockets from Gaza to multiple locations in Israel as Hamas militants infiltrated Israel, killing and capturing Israeli soldiers and civilians. Israeli media reported hundreds dead and thousands wounded, and Israeli forces quickly struck back at targets in Gaza, beginning what could be a prolonged war in the region.
Congress will likely receive calls for additional funding for Israel’s war effort, but the House of Representatives is in disarray, with still no Speaker of the House and a government shutdown looming in mid-November. Congress has spent billions in recent years to support Israel’s Iron Dome, a highly advanced missile defense system that needs fresh ammunition.
Biden said the U.S. has increased its military presence in the region, including the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group. Currently, the Department of Defense is already sending support to Israel.
“First of all, with supporting Israel’s defense, we are surging support to Israel,” a senior defense official from the DOD told reporters on a press call Monday. “That includes air defense and munitions. We remain in constant, ongoing contact with our counterparts in Israel to determine and then support their most urgent requirements.”
The State Department has also issued a travel advisory about traveling to the region, an otherwise popular tourist destination for Americans.
“Terrorist groups, lone-wolf terrorists and other violent extremists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza,” the State Department said in its advisory. “Terrorists and violent extremists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza without warning. There has been a marked increase in demonstrations throughout Israel, some with little or no warning.”
Biden has also taken fire for releasing $6 billion to Iran that was held up in sanctions just weeks before this attack. Iran is a known financial backer of the Hamas terror group. The Biden administration has responded, saying that money was reserved for humanitarian use, but critics say the money is fungible and support for Iran whether direct or indirect is support for Hamas.
Those billions, along with five detained Iranians, were given in exchange for the release of five detained Americans in Iran.
“It can be re-frozen at any time,” John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council told MSNBC in response to questions about that $6 billion deal. “I’m not here to announce a policy decision one way or the other on that, but as we said, when we got those Americans out of Tehran, that money can be frozen at any time. We can stop any transaction.
“It is important for people to know that not a single dinar of that $6 billion…none of it has been allocated,” he added. “None of it has been spent.”
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said on Tuesday they should freeze the funds immediately.
“The Biden administration should immediately freeze the $6 billion it released to Iran,” Cotton wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Anything less is unacceptable.”