(The Center Square) — At least nine Americans were killed in the surprise Hamas attack on Israel over the weekend, the State Department has confirmed.
Over the weekend, Hamas terrorists fired thousands of rockets from Gaza to multiple locations in Israel as militants infiltrated Israel, killing and capturing Israelis. Israeli media reported hundreds dead and thousands wounded, and Israeli forces quickly struck back.
Among those casualties were at least nine dead Americans, State Department spokesman Matt Miller said on MSNBC Monday morning.
“We can confirm that there are nine American citizens who have lost their lives as a result of these horrific attacks,” Miller said.
Miller also said there are reports of Americans who are unaccounted for, something the agency is looking into. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on “Meet the Press” Sunday that there could be American hostages.
Casualties are almost certain to increase as Hamas terrorists have reportedly continued to attack Israelis, and Israel has signaled a total seizure of the Gaza strip, possibly setting up a prolonged war.
Reports from multiple news outlets and governments say Hamas terrorists killed, raped and captured civilians, with at least dozens of hostages likely in Gaza.
The attack comes just weeks after the Biden administration released $6 billion to Iran, the main backer of Hamas. Those funds came as part of deal last month where the Biden administration released $6 billion of dollars that had been frozen by U.S. sanctions as well as releasing five Iranian nationals detained in the U.S. in exchange for the release of five Americans detained in Iran.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani praised Hamas after the attack.
Republicans quickly blasted President Joe Biden Saturday, raising questions of whether those funds could have been used for the terrorist killings.
“Just weeks ago, the Biden administration handed over $6 billion to Iran, and today, innocent Israelis were murdered by Iran-backed Hamas terrorists,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said in a statement over the weekend. “We must continue to support our strongest ally in the Middle East and their right to defend themselves against these unprovoked, horrific attacks. I stand with Israel and join many around the world in praying for the safety and security of its people.”
As The Center Square previously reported, U.S. Treasury Under Secretary Brian Nelson said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the funds that were part of the September deal had not yet been spent and were reserved for humanitarian purposes only. Critics quickly pointed out that the money is fungible, and Iran’s knowledge of the coming money could have impacted how it spent other funds not under the U.S.’ watch.
President Joe Biden addressed the attacks on Saturday.
“You know, when I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning, I told him the United States stands with the people of Israel in the face of this terrorist assaults,” Biden said. “Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Full stop. There is never justification for terrorist acts. And my administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”