Biden to meet in person Wednesday with families of Americans taken hostage by Hamas

Biden to meet in person Wednesday with families of Americans taken hostage by Hamas

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday will hold his first in-person meeting with the families of eight Americans still unaccounted for and presumed to be taken captive by Hamas during its brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7, the White House said.

A senior administration official said family members of all eight would participate in the Biden meeting either in person or virtually. The president has previously met with some family members virtually and spoken to others on the phone. Biden was set to provide an update on American efforts to secure the release of those held by Hamas.

“We’re not going to stop until every hostage is returned home,” Biden told donors in Washington on Tuesday, saying the U.S. commitment to Israel is “unshakable.”

Eight Americans remain unaccounted for after Hamas’ surprise air, sea and land incursion into Israeli towns, where the group killed about 1,200 Israelis — mostly civilians — and took more than 240 people hostage. Four Americans were released as part of a U.S.-negotiated cease-fire in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza that was brokered with the assistance of Qatar and Egypt. One American woman was supposed to be released by Hamas under the terms of last month’s ceasefire but she remains unaccounted for — a development that contributed to the end of the temporary pause in the fighting.

The White House has said that at least 31 Americans were killed by Hamas and other militant groups on Oct. 7.

Biden will be joined in the meeting by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and deputy national security adviser Jon Finer, the official said.

FILE – President Joe Biden walks to the podium to deliver remarks on the war between Israel and Hamas after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv. Democratic views on how President Joe Biden is handling the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians have rebounded slightly, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)