Lawmakers Weigh Deeper Military Involvement as Americans Face Hostage Crisis in IsraelGo Back to News and Updates
Congress is debating whether or not to increase U.S. military involvement in the confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas after a devastating assault by Hamas killed at least 1,200 people, including 22 Americans.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the Office of the Director for National Intelligence briefed House Armed Services Committee members on the horrible events of the weekend and the rising violence that has occurred.
Don Bacon, a retired Air Force brigadier general and current member of Congress, said, "Whatever Israel wants, they should be there to help us, and we should be there to help." This was about helping with the rescue of hostages.
When asked about the possible participation of the U.S. military in raids, Representative Bacon said, "We should do whatever is needed to rescue Americans and kill those bad guys." Legislators from all parties agreed that liberating the hostages was the highest priority.
The carrier strike group USS Gerald Ford was sent to the eastern Mediterranean as part of the United States' reaction. According to national security adviser Jake Sullivan, the United States has sent captive recovery specialists to Israel to help coordinate rescue attempts and exchange information.
Officials from the Department of Defense have stressed that they have no immediate plans to deploy American troops to combat. Still, the presence of the USS Gerald Ford is meant to send a message to Iran, Hezbollah, and anyone else hoping to take advantage of the chaos.
According to the State Department, at least 22 Americans were killed in the latest incident, and 17 more are still missing. President Trump has requested help from the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team and U.S. special operations personnel after House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said "dozens" of Americans are being held hostage.
McCaul drew parallels between the difficulties of rescuing hostages in Fallujah in 2005 and the problems of doing so now, especially when captives are employed as human shields. He warned of the risks but underscored the need to rescue the American and Israeli detainees.
During a closed-door briefing, members discussed the likelihood of more U.S. military engagement in the rescue and evacuation of people, as reported by Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. However, the briefers still need to give concrete information.
The subject of withdrawing American citizens from Israel has emerged as the situation has progressed. Congressional briefings have covered the difficulties of removing Americans since Ben Gurion Airport is still operational despite suspending many significant airlines' services.
Marine Corps veteran and representative Jake Auchincloss discussed using private planes for evacuations. Auchincloss recognized the possible importance of the USS Gerald Ford in sending a strong signal to Hezbollah and Iran against establishing new fronts in the conflict, despite the United States' history of coordinating charter flights to evacuate Americans during international crises.
As lawmakers attempt to make sense of the situation, the priority remains on protecting and rescuing Americans trapped in the crossfire between Israel and Hamas. An expanded U.S. military participation is being considered in light of the growing threats on the ground.