President Joe Biden condemned the “bloody hand” of Hamas on Tuesday even as some congressional Democrats expressed ambiguity about the terrorist group’s bloody incursion Saturday into Israel.
“This is an act of sheer evil, more than 1,000 civilians slaughtered in Israel, along with them at least 14 American citizens killed,” Biden said at the White House.
The president noted that his top priority is rescuing Americans being held hostage by Hamas terrorists.
Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, later told reporters in a briefing that 20 Americans in Israel are unaccounted for. Sullivan said he could not confirm whether they were all hostages.
The U.S. is providing assistance to Israel in the form of equipment and advisers, but not military personnel, Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the Biden administration hasn’t confirmed Iran’s role in Hamas’ attack over the weekend. the national security adviser noted that “not a dollar” of the $6 billion in sanctions relief to Iran has been released yet, but declined to say whether the U.S. would freeze the funds.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Tony Blinken flanked Biden as he spoke for just over than 10 minutes.
“In this moment, we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel,” Biden said. “We will make sure it has what it needs to take care of its citizens.”
Some congressional Democrats, among them Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., have condemned Israel for its response to Hamas’ attack.
Biden sought to make clear where the White House stood. Meanwhile, Blinken, his own secretary of state, first tweeted and then deleted a statement about the need for a ceasefire.
Biden said he would ask Congress for a funding package for Israel, which quickly declared war on Hamas, which has governed the Gaza Strip since Israel pulled out setllers in 2007.
The president said Hamas’ attack on Israel, which included the killing of more than 1,000 and the kidnapping of hundreds, “brings to mind the worst rampages of ISIS.”
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, conducted a military campaign to stamp out ISIS, a terrorist army also known as the Islamic State.
“There is no justification for terrorism. There is no excuse,” Biden said. “Hamas does not stand for the Palestianian people’s right to dignity and self-determination. Its stated purpose is the annihilation of the state of Israel and the murder of Jewish people. They use Palestinian civilians as human shields.”
The president said the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department are working closely to identify and disrupt any domestic fallout.
“This is a time for the United States to come together,” Biden said. “There is no place for hate in America, not against Jews, not against Muslims. Not against anybody. We reject terrorism. We condemn the indiscriminate evil just as we’ve always done.”
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