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White House says 27 Americans killed in Israel with 14 still missing


The White House has said that 27 Americans have been killed after the attacks on Israel by Hamas.

Spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday that 14 Americans remain “unaccounted for”.

“I’ll start with the saddest news. We can now update the number of Americans that we know had been killed to 27 and the number of unaccounted for stands today at 14,” Mr Kirby, the National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, said during a press briefing.

Mr Kirby was asked about the $6bn of Iranian assets that were set to be unfrozen to be used for humanitarian needs as part of a deal to release five Americans held in the country. Republicans have bashed the Biden administration, claiming that the funds have allowed Iran to reallocate assets to back Hamas.

“Every single dime of that money is still sitting in a Qatari bank, not one dime of it has been spent,” Mr Kirby, the former Pentagon press secretary and retired US Navy rear admiral, said on Thursday.

“I’ll also remind … in certain audiences, inconvenient facts are easy to forget, the regime was never gonna see a dime of that money,” he said, seemingly in a dig at conservatives. “And this account, although it’s moved from South Korea to Qatar, was set up by the previous administration for this exact purpose.”

“Back in 2018, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo actually talked in quite some detail about how this money and these accounts can only be used for humanitarian purposes and that there was going to be oversight. We’ve done nothing different. It is the same process,” he added. “All we’ve done is move the funds from South Korea where for some technical reasons, it wasn’t accessible to Qatar, where it’s more accessible. All that said, none of it has been accessed … by Iran at all. And even if they had access to it, it wouldn’t go to the regime.”

“It would go to vendors that we approved to go buy food, medicine and medical equipment, agricultural products, and ship it into Iran directly to the benefit of the Iranian people,” he said.

This comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautioned Israel ahead of its planned siege of Gaza as he spoke alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Blinken spoke of the strong US support for Israel and reiterated that the country has the right to defend itself, but he added that “how Israel does this matters”.

The secretary of state met with Mr Netanyahu at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv. The top US diplomat mentioned his Jewish ancestry and horror at the Hamas attacks.

“I understand on a personal level, the harrowing echoes that Hamas’ massacres carry for Israeli Jews, indeed, for Jews everywhere,” he said.

“There is no excuse. There is no justification for these atrocities,” he added. “This must be a moment for moral clarity.”

The “brutality and inhumanity” of Hamas was similar to “the worst of ISIS,” Mr Blinken said.

Mr Blinken said the US would supply ammunition to restock Israel’s air defences, adding that there would be bipartisan support for further military assistance. He then cautioned that how Israel goes about its counteroffensive matters.

“Our humanity, the value we place on human life and human dignity … is what makes us who we are,” he said.

“We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by striving for a different standard, even when it’s difficult, and holding ourselves to account when we fall short,” Mr Blinken said. “That’s why it’s so important to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians. And that’s why we mourn the loss of every innocent life — civilians of every faith, every nationality who have been killed.”

“No country can or would tolerate the slaughter of its citizens or simply return to the conditions that allowed it to take place. Israel has the right, indeed the obligation, to defend itself and to ensure that this never happens again,” he added before going on to note that “as the Prime Minister and I discussed, how Israel does this matters”.


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