President Biden speaks with families of Americans held hostage by Hamas

WASHINGTON – President met virtually Friday with the families of 14 Americans who remain unaccounted for following last weekend’s brutal massacre in Israel by the terrorist organization Hamas.

“They’re going through agony not knowing what the status of their sons daughters, husbands, wives, children are,” Biden, speaking at an economic event in Philadelphia, said. “It’s gut wrenching. I assured them my personal commitment to do everything possible to return every missing American to their families.”

The on-camera Zoom call, which the White House described as “emotional,” also included National Security Advisor , Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, Undersecretary of State John Bass and National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East Brett McGurk.

The call lasted about an hour and 15 minutes, Biden said.

“I think they have to know that the president of the United States of America cares deeply about what’s happening,” Biden said in an interview on 60 Minutes, according to a clip released by CBS ahead of Sunday’s full airing.

“We have to communicate to the world. This is critical,” Biden said. “This is not human behavior. It’s pure barbarism. And we’re going to do everything in our power to get them home.”

In addition to the 14 missing Americans, 27 Americans in Israel were killed in the attack. The White House believes a small number of the 14 unaccounted for Americans are being held captive by Hamas as hostages.

“A handful is still our estimate right now,” said John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications. “We just don’t have a lot of information. We’re working on this literally around the clock to try to find out as much as we can about where they are and in what conditions they’re being held.”

First charter flight evacuating Americans from Israel lands in Greece

Meanwhile, the State Department’s first charter flight taking Americans out of Israel left the country Friday and landed in Athens, Greece, the Biden administration said.

Americans who left Israel on the charter flights have to make their own travel arrangements to the U.S. once they make it to the safe locations, according to the State Department.

“The State Department will continue to organize these charter flights for as long as there is a demand from US citizens for departure assistance,” Kirby said.

Reach Joey Garrison on X, formerly known as Twitter, @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden speaks with families of Americans held hostage by Hamas


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