U.S. defense officials reportedly selected roughly 2,000 troops across the U.S. military to prepare for potential deployment to support Israel in the war against Hamas terrorists.
According to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. officials said those selected aren’t intended to serve in combat, and no ground troops that engage in close-range battle have been put on a prepare-to-deploy order. They would help Israel as advisors and with medical support missions in a ground operation in Gaza.
Defense officials said the selected troops are stationed inside the Middle East and outside the region, including Europe.
An estimated 1,400 Israelis have been killed since Hamas launched a brutal terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, including more than 280 soldiers, while roughly 3,200 more Israelis have been injured. In addition, Hamas is believed to have taken nearly 200 hostages.
Iranian officials reportedly said Hamas would release hostages held captive in Gaza but noted making preparations to free civilians is “impossible” under Israeli bombing.
U.S. officials said on Sunday the American death toll in Israel reached 30, and more than a dozen remain missing. It is unclear how many are being held hostage in Gaza after President Joe Biden said last week that some U.S. citizens were among those taken.
“State Department personnel have been in contact with their families,” a State Department official said.
“The U.S. government is working around the clock to determine their whereabouts and is working with the Israeli government on every aspect of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to advise the Israeli government on hostage recovery efforts.”
U.S. officials have been working to help Americans evacuate Israel and the Gaza Strip. According to The New York Times, an estimated 500-600 Americans reside in Gaza, and some who have tried to leave said they were stuck at the border with Egypt.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told ABC on Sunday the Biden administration has a “dedicated team” helping Americans get out of Gaza safely, but noted, “Hamas has intervened in some cases to make it hard for Palestinians, Palestinian Americans and others to be able to travel to the border crossing and get through.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has traveled to the Middle East to visit Israel and other countries in the region to discuss the terrorist attacks and seek ways to stop the fighting from spreading as Israeli forces trade fire with Hezbollah at the Lebanon border and Iran warns of a regional conflict if “aggressions do not stop.”