President Joe Biden reportedly apologized to several prominent Muslim-American leaders after expressing doubt about the accuracy of the death toll figures reported by the Hamas government in Gaza.
During a press conference on October 25, Biden openly questioned the number of casualties in Gaza, stating, “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s a price of waging war.”
Following these comments, Biden met with five Muslim American leaders the next day, where he listened to their accounts of people directly impacted by the conflict. According to the Washington Post, Biden apologized, saying, “I’m sorry. I’m disappointed in myself.” The Muslim-American leaders urged Biden to show more empathy to the Palestinians, and Biden reportedly hugged one of the participants at the end of the meeting.
The conflict has led to more than 14,000 reported Palestinian deaths, including women and children, according to data from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health. Israel has suffered over 1,200 fatalities, primarily civilians, in a war that began weeks ago, with a significant escalation on October 7 when Hamas launched an attack.
Biden, facing criticism from within his administration and some prominent Democrats, has endorsed U.S. support for Israel but also advocated for a pause in the fighting to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and the release of hostages held by Hamas.
As of Friday, Hamas and Israel agreed to a four-day pause in fighting for a hostage-for-prisoner deal, aiming to free approximately 50 hostages in exchange for temporary peace and the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners.