President Joe Biden and his administration are celebrating a partial success in the release of hostages following the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas.
The group freed some captives, but notably, none of the dozen or so Americans taken during the incident have been released. During a press conference at Nantucket’s White Elephant Hotel, where the first family is spending Thanksgiving, Biden attributed the release to “extensive U.S. diplomacy.”
However, he acknowledged that Americans were not part of the released group and expressed uncertainty about when their release would occur. Biden mentioned that the administration is unaware of the full list of hostages and their release schedule but is aware of the number set to be released.
While hoping for a swift resolution, Biden mentioned that the second wave of releases did not include any captured Americans, as reported by Fox News on Saturday morning. A White House official conveyed optimism about potential releases in the coming days but clarified that no Americans were expected to be released on that particular day.
Axios reported on Israeli intelligence detecting irregular activity among Hamas operatives the night before the attack. Despite this, top Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet leaders chose not to put military forces on high alert at the enclave borders.
The intelligence failure, while broader and strategic, highlighted a lack of understanding among senior Israeli defense and intelligence officials regarding the severity of the impending situation.
Hamas is expected to release a second group of Israeli hostages on Saturday as part of a planned four-day cease-fire with Israel to allow an exchange of 50 hostages for 150 Palestinian prisoners.
Egyptian security sources said they had received the names of 14 Israeli women and children from Hamas and were waiting for more details on when the hostages would be handed over to Egyptian authorities.
Last month, a week after the attack, the Biden administration admitted that more Americans had been killed in the fighting between Hamas and Israel following the terrorist group’s surprise attack and infiltration of the Jewish state, even as the CIA and Israeli intelligence failed to understand the significance of signs warning of an imminent attack.
The administration said during a press conference the number of Americans dead in Israel had risen to 27.
“I’ll start with the saddest of news. We can now update the number of Americans that we know have been killed to 27, and the number of unaccounted for stands today at 14. We’re obviously doing everything we can to support and inform the families,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said in a video posted to social media.
“Now, sadly, five more families have now gotten the worst possible news that any family can conceive of getting. And we’re going to stay in touch with them as appropriate,” he added.
“The same goes for those family members of those who are unaccounted for. And by ‘unaccounted for,’ we mean that. We don’t know where they are. They don’t know where they are,” he said.
In addition to anger and outrage over the brutality of the Iran-aligned Hamas attack, attention has since turned to how the U.S. and Israel intelligence apparatuses missed the attack.
According to Axios, “Israeli intelligence the night before the Hamas attack picked up signs of irregular activity among Hamas operatives in Gaza but top IDF and Shin Bet leaders decided not to put military forces on the borders of the enclave on high alert,” three Israeli officials told the outlet.
“While the Israeli intelligence failure was much broader and strategic, the events of the night before show how most senior officials in the Israeli defense establishment and intelligence community didn’t understand how bad the situation would become,” Axios noted further.