Senator Chuck Schumer said on Sunday that at least four Americans were killed in the attacks in Israel, and US officials expect the death toll to rise.
The Senate Majority Leader said in a statement that he was briefed on the matter Sunday evening by senior National Security and State Department officials.
He added: “Unfortunately, we know that there were Americans killed. “The administration has told us it knows four people so far, but unfortunately, we know the number will rise,” Schumer, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Earlier Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was “working overtime” to verify reports of missing and dead Americans after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack against Israel.
We have reports of a number of Americans being killed. We are working overtime to verify this. “At the same time, there are reports of missing Americans, and again, we are working to verify those reports.”
CNN reported earlier Sunday that at least three Americans were killed, according to an internal US government memo. The memo said the State Department was aware of additional Americans who had not been identified.
CNN has reached out to the State Department for comment.
Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer told Bash on Sunday that Americans are among “dozens” of hostages being held in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Jerusalem updated its contingency plan “for any potential evacuation by land or air,” according to the memo. On Saturday, the embassy issued a “stay in place” order for its employees.
A large-scale surprise attack by militants in Gaza on Saturday killed hundreds of Israelis, prompting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to vow revenge and launch a deadly barrage of retaliatory Israeli airstrikes.
It is unclear what Israel’s full response will be. An Israeli military spokesman hinted that Israel may attempt to take full control of Gaza for the first time since 2005, and more than 20 communities near Gaza are being evacuated.
The chief American diplomat added that President Joe Biden’s directives were “to ensure that we provide Israel with everything it needs at this moment to deal with Hamas attacks.”
Speaking from the White House on Saturday, Biden said his administration’s support for Israel’s security is “very solid and unwavering.”
In a conversation on Sunday with Netanyahu, Biden said aid was “on its way,” with additional aid imminent.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Sunday that a US aircraft carrier group is heading to the eastern Mediterranean as a “deterrence posture.” In his statement, Austin also said that the United States “will quickly provide the IDF with additional equipment and resources.”
However, the president and his senior aides face a complex diplomatic situation unlike any previous conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Republican presidential candidates criticized the Biden administration, with former President Donald Trump – the front-runner for the Republican nomination – pointing to the administration’s freezing of Iranian funds, claiming that Biden “betrayed Israel.”
But Blinken confirmed on Sunday that none of the unfrozen funds allocated for humanitarian purposes had been spent.
“So people are either misinformed or misinformed,” he said. “Either way, this is wrong.”
This story has been updated with additional information.
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