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Biden tells Jewish community leaders in White House meeting he 'has not given up hope'

President Joe Biden tells a roundtable discussion with leaders in the Jewish community Wednesday he "has not given up hope." The group met in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., four days after Hamas attacked Israel. Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI
1 of 4 | President Joe Biden tells a roundtable discussion with leaders in the Jewish community Wednesday he "has not given up hope." The group met in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., four days after Hamas attacked Israel. Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden told Jewish community leaders Wednesday, in a meeting at the White House, that he "has not given up hope" on bringing American hostages home from Gaza following Hamas attacks on Israel that killed 22 U.S. citizens and more than 1,000 Israelis.

"This attack was a campaign of pure cruelty, not just hate, but cruelty against the Jewish people. And I would argue it's the deadliest day for Jews since the holocaust," the president told the group gathered in the White House Treaty Room, calling Hamas "evil that exceeds the worst atrocities of ISIS."

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Earlier Wednesday, the White House announced the death toll for Americans in the attacks had risen to 22, while 17 U.S. citizens remain unaccounted for.

"We are working on every aspect in the hostage crisis, including deploying experts to advise and assist recovery efforts," he said, adding that he has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu many times since the attacks.

"Already, we're sending additional military assistance to the Israeli Defense Force including ammunition, interceptors, and we've moved the U.S. carrier fleet to the eastern Mediterranean, and we're sending more fighter jets to the region," Biden said.

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Beyond that, Biden refused to offer more details about what his administration is doing to "bring these folks home," saying "if I told you, I wouldn't be able to get them home."

Biden, who was accompanied by second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, also condemned anti-semitism and accused those who remain silent of complicity.

"I refuse to be silent and I know you refuse to be silent as well," the president said. "The past few days have been a solemn reminder that hate never goes away."

As a precaution, Biden said his administration has beefed up security around Jewish community centers and synagogues, as he promised to "combat anti-semitism at every single turn."

"Folks, there's a lot we're doing. I have not given up hope," Biden said. "As I said yesterday, my commitment to the security and safety of the Jewish people is unshakable. The United States has Israel's back and I have yours as well at home and abroad."

"I believe Israel is doing everything in its power to pull the country together, stay on the same page and we're going to do everything in our power to make sure Israel succeeds," the president said, "and God willing bring home those Americans who are in harm's way."

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