President Joe Biden said the U.S. is doing “everything in its power” to find Americans being held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night, Biden called Hamas’s attack last weekend, which killed more than 1,400 Israelis and at least 30 Americans, “pure barbarism.”
“I say we’re going to do everything in our power to find them,” Biden told CBS News’ Scott Pelley, about the American hostages. “Everything in our power. And I’m not going to go into the detail of that, but there’s — we’re working like hell on it.”
According to a CBS News transcript of the interview, which was taped Thursday, Biden also said the U.S. can easily handle supporting its allies in simultaneous wars in Ukraine and Gaza.
“We’re the United States of America for God’s sake, the most powerful nation in the history — not in the world, in the history of the world,” Biden said. “We can take care of both of these and still maintain our overall international defense. We have the capacity to do this and we have an obligation … to paraphrase the former secretary of state: If we don’t, who does?”
Biden said he does not anticipate U.S. troops facing combat in the new war, but “I guarantee we’re gonna provide [Israel] everything they need.”
The president also said the U.S. is talking to Israel about creating a safe zone in Gaza, to allow civilians to flee the Israeli assault on the territory, and said he expects Israel to “avoid the killing of innocent civilians” in Gaza.
“I’m confident that there’s gonna be an ability for the innocents in Gaza to be able to have access to medicine and food and water,” he added, amid reports Sunday that U.N. shelters in Gaza had run out of water and hospitals were desperately short of supplies.
While saying that there’s no clear evidence as of yet that Iran was behind Hamas’ attack, Biden bluntly warned Iran and Hezbollah against escalating the war.
“Don’t.” Biden said. “Don’t, don’t, don’t.”
Separately, the Associated Press reported late Sunday that Biden is considering a trip to Israel in the coming days, though plans have not been finalized.