The United States has not ruled out a high-risk special operations commando rescue mission if American citizens are confirmed to be among those kidnapped by Palestinian militant groups in their joint “Al Aqsa flood” invasion of Israel.
A Pentagon official told Sky News Arabia, “We do not rule out carrying out a special operation to liberate our citizens in Gaza.”
مراسلنا نقلاً عن مسؤول في البنتاغون: لا نستبعد تنفيذ عملية خاصة لتحرير مواطنينا في غزة
— سكاي نيوز عربية-عاجل (@SkyNewsArabia_B) October 10, 2023
There have been a number of reports about Hamas taking hostages and executing civilians in broad daylight. This disturbing video shows one such alleged event.
The Sky News Arabia report squares with a number of reports from high-ranking U.S. military officials.
“We take the safety and security of Americans overseas very, very seriously. And you have seen us act as efficiently and effectively as we can to get Americans that are being held hostage or wrongfully detained, in some cases, back home with their families. We will continue to do that in this case as well,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Monday.
“We have to accept the very grim possibility and the likelihood that there are Americans being held hostage,” Kirby added. “We’re in constant touch with Israeli officials right now to try to get a sense of the whereabouts of all the unaccounted-for Americans because who knows where they are or what condition they’re in.”
Jon Finer, the deputy national security adviser, commented on the fluid situation in the escalating military conflict.
“We do not know with certainty the number of Americans who might be held there,” Finer remarked. “We strongly suspect that there were Americans not just among the dead, but among those being held in Gaza at this time.”
Any special forces operation would require precise intelligence regarding the location and conditions of more than 150 civilian and military detainees, as well as close coordination with Israeli forces who may be launching their own rescue missions.
On a conference call with reporters in the afternoon, a senior defense official said, “The entire U.S. government is in constant contact with all of our Israeli counterparts regarding the situation of the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.”
Former national security adviser Robert O’Brien discussed the need for urgency in planning and executing any rescue operation.
“We have hostage rescue teams in our special forces. They need to be shipped immediately, to get on those C-17s and C-5s, and fly to Israel to prepare to rescue these American citizens,” O’Brien said. “We ought to have the FBI hostage rescue team also deployed to Israel.”
Kirby also hinted on the need for secrecy and the imperative of subterfuge in discussing any rescue of American hostages.
“We don’t even know if, or how many, are being held hostage. But how we would go about doing that? Obviously, we wouldn’t detail too much publicly,” Kirby remarked. “I would tell you, broadly speaking, that we will do what we need to do to protect our national security interests there in the region.”
Hamas’ terror tactics, according to a senior official who briefed Pentagon reporters, are drastically different from the tensions and conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis in the past.
“This is ISIS-level savagery,” the official said. “This is different. It’s unprecedented. Hamas militants going across Israel, murdering children in front of their parents, massacring with indiscriminate violence music festivals, burning down entire houses while families sheltered in their bunkers.”
“We back Israel and its right to respond, to ensure that its own citizens and its territory are safe from Hamas terror and recognize that there’s going to need to be a response for Israel to restore deterrence,” the official said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also condemned the Hamas operation in stark terms and directly compared them to ISIS.
“Hamas terrorists bound, burned and executed children. They are savages. Hamas is ISIS,” Netanyahu said in an English language statement. “And just as the forces of civilization united to defeat ISIS, the forces of civilization must support Israel in defeating Hamas.”
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog also compared the attack to the Holocaust.
“Not since the Holocaust have so many Jews being killed on one day,” he said. “And not since the Holocaust have we witnessed scenes of Jewish women and children, grandparents, even Holocaust survivors being herded into trucks and taken into captivity.”
“Hamas has imported, adopted, and replicated the savagery of ISIS, entering civilian homes on holiday and murdering in cold blood, old families, young and old, violating and burning bodies, beating and torturing their innocent victims,” he continued.
“Jews and Muslims and others face the brutality, the inhumanity, the barbarity of monsters, not humans — monsters.”
Florida Congressman Byron Donalds, a Republican, gave his support for a rescue operation, while adding that President Joe Biden had taken a “lid.”
We must evacuate as many Americans out of Israel as possible & free our hostages.
The problem is that this admin has put a lid on everything & has been out to lunch since the attacks began.
The WH must address our nation about next steps in confronting this atrocity from Hamas. pic.twitter.com/jZ654syiSl
— Congressman Byron Donalds (@RepDonaldsPress) October 10, 2023
“We must evacuate as many Americans out of Israel as possible & free our hostages,” Donalds said. “The problem is that this admin has put a lid on everything & has been out to lunch since the attacks began.”
“The WH must address our nation about next steps in confronting this atrocity from Hamas,” he added.