A State Department spokesperson told Scripps News that 22 Americans have died in the Middle East amid Hamas and Israel's ongoing war. The updated figure came hours after National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told Scripps News he expected the number of Americans killed to increase.
Previously, the White House confirmed 14 American fatalities and 20 U.S. citizens unaccounted for. The number of Americans unaccounted now stands at 17, the Biden administration said on Wednesday.
The 22 Americans dead are among 1,200 people who were killed in recent attacks by Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces said. The Palestinian-run Gaza Ministry of Health said that 1,055 Palestinians have died since the start of the escalation.
Kirby said the White House's focus is providing military support for Israel, which is considered America's strongest ally in the Middle East. Kirby would not address calls for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
"What we're focused on is making sure that Israel has the tools and capabilities it needs to go after these Hamas terrorists and defend themselves in these early days," Kirby said.
As Israel has launched retaliatory attacks against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, some 2 million Palestinians are at risk for an attack.
"We are working with Egypt and partners to see that we can make sure there are safe ground routes out of Gaza," Kirby said. "We know how important that is, and we're working at that very, very hard."
"We still believe it's important for humanitarian assistance to get to the people of Gaza and that that's our intention to be able to find ways to keep that humanitarian assistance flowing," Kirby added.
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