Following the Hamas attacks in Israel on Saturday, at least four Americans have lost their lives. The US Senate majority leader has cautioned that the casualty count is expected to rise as the violence enters its third day.
Democrat Chuck Schumer said he had been informed of the fatalities by the acting deputy secretary of state and the acting undersecretary of defense for policy during an unclassified briefing on Sunday attended by Senate leaders and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Select Committee.
“Unfortunately, we know there are Americans who were killed, the Administration telling us that they know of four thus far, but, sadly, we know the toll will rise,” Schumer said in a statement.
“I asked the representatives of our Defense Department if they are giving Israel everything they need, and I was heartened that they said yes and that they are surging support. I asked them if they have denied any requests that Israel has made, and they said no.
“I urged them to ensure Israel has everything it needs to protect itself and reiterated that the Senate stands ready to deliver on additional needs.”
Condemning the Hamas attacks as an “outrage,” Schumer said he was planning a classified briefing that senators would be able to receive in their states as soon as possible to provide additional details that could not be disclosed.
He added that the US government is “keeping a careful eye on Iran, keeping pressure on them and their proxies” to ensure the situation does not escalate.
Speaking to NBC, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Americans could be among the dead, and the US government had prioritized verifying this and working to rescue any US hostages, with Israel confirming Americans are among the more than 100 taken hostage.
Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer told CNN: “We have a lot of dual citizens in Israel. I suspect there are several, but we’re still trying to sort through all of all this information after this horrific surprise attack, and we’ll make sure to put that information out so the loved ones of those who were killed and who are held hostage, they know as quickly as possible.”
Citizens of Germany, Ireland and the UK are also among the scores reported missing or kidnapped, with at least 700 people in Israel having been killed.
The number of reported Palestinian dead has surpassed 400, thousands have been injured and some 74,000 people in Gaza displaced by the fighting, with the UN noting that Israeli airstrikes hit a school being used as a UN shelter for displaced people.
The UN Relief and Works Agency said: “Civilians must be protected at all times, including during fighting. We support calls for an immediate ceasefire and halt the violence everywhere.”