Biden speaks with families of Americans missing in Israel, possibly among hostages held by Hamas


President Biden on Friday spoke for over an hour with families of 14 Americans who are missing following Hamas’ attack on Israel. At an event in Philadelphia, he spoke about his conversation with them.

“They’re going through agony not knowing what the status of their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, children, are,” he said. “You know, it’s gut-wrenching.”

“I assured them of my personal commitment to do everything possible to return every missing American to their families,” he continued. “We’re working around the clock to secure the release of Americans held by Hamas, in close cooperation with Israel and our partners around the region. We’re not going to stop until we bring them home.”

President Joe Biden participates in a zoom call with relatives of American citizens who are being held hostage or missing in the Israeli Hamas conflict Friday, October 13, 2023, in the Oval Office of the White House. 

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

The president was joined on the phone call with the families by special envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Undersecretary of State John Bass, and National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East Brett McGurk, the White House said. 

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the president told the families they’ve been in his prayers, and expressed the United States’ commitment to doing everything possible to bring their loved ones home. 

“We’re working round the clock to secure the release of Americans held by Hamas, in close cooperation with Israel and our partners around the region,” the president said Friday afternoon during an unrelated speech in Philadelphia. “We’re not going to stop until we bring them home.”

White House and State Department officials tried to answer questions from families on the call. 

The U.S. believes Americans are among the scores of hostages being held by Hamas, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist group. Hamas launched an attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that has killed at least 1,300 people. Israel has retaliated with airstrikes on the Gaza Strip that have killed at least 1,900 people and wounded over 7,600, according to health officials.

President Biden spoke with CBS News’ Scott Pelley, in an interview for 60 Minutes, before his meeting with the families. 

“I think they have to know that the president of the United States of America cares deeply about what’s happened to them — deeply,” Mr. Biden said. “We have to communicate to the world this is critical. This is not even human behavior. It’s pure barbarism. And we’re going to do everything in our power to get them home if we can find them.” 

Pres. Biden plans to meet virtually with families of American hostages


According to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, at least 27 Americans have been killed in the latest violence. 


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