WASHINGTON — As Israel prepares for an expected ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, concerns are growing for the scores of hostages, some of them American, whom Hamas whisked across the border and has likely stowed in its labyrinth of subterranean tunnels.
A source working with the families said that more than a dozen US citizens, many of them dual nationals, are held hostage by the Iran-backed group. They’re among the unprecedented number of captives, including women and children, that Hamas dragged into the impoverished Gaza Strip during its highly coordinated and brazen incursion into Israel.
Many of the hostages were seized at a trance music festival near Kibbutz Reim, where emergency responders later recovered at least 260 bodies. Most others were snatched from towns near the southern Israeli border that were overrun by the militants Saturday morning.
The White House said Wednesday at least 17 US citizens are “unaccounted for," in addition to the 22 Americans whose deaths it has confirmed. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the US government is aware of Americans held by Hamas but do not know their conditions or whereabouts.