Top US official confirms role in Israeli operation: No ‘Forces on the Ground’ 

World News

By Jack Phillips 
Contributing Writer 

A senior White House official confirmed that the United States assisted Israel in its hostage rescue mission over the past weekend without sending troops on the ground. 

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with multiple news outlets on Sunday, a day after the Israel Defense Forces led an operation that rescued four Hamas-held hostages in Gaza. 

“The United States has been providing support to Israel for several months in its efforts to help identify the locations of hostages in Gaza and to support efforts to try to secure their rescue or recovery,” Sullivan told CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

“I can only just say that we have generally provided support to the IDF so that we can try to get all of the hostages home, including the American hostages who are still being held.” 

The United States, he said in an ABC News interview, had been working on the Israeli hostage mission “for months,” but he added, “We didn’t have any U.S. forces on the ground.” 

Sullivan told CNN that there was no confirmation any Israeli hostages died in the rescue attempt, which Hamas has claimed. However, he noted that such missions can pose a risk. 

“I believe that the Israelis have said they do not have any information to that effect,” Sullivan said. “With all of these military operations, hostages have been killed over the last eight months.” 

No U.S. soldiers or officials were sent to Israel to help in the rescue mission, he confirmed. 

“Well, the one thing I can say is that there were no U.S. forces, no U.S. boots on the ground involved in this operation. We did not participate militarily in this operation,” the Biden administration national security adviser said. 

The Gaza Health Ministry is run by Hamas, which has long been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. It said that 274 people died in the rescue mission. Daniel Hagari, a top spokesperson for the Israeli military, disputed those claims, saying that fewer than 100 people died in the rescue effort. 

“We know about under 100 [Palestinian] casualties. I don’t know how many of them are terrorists,” he told reporters over the past weekend. The IDF has said that the hostages were being held in two Hamas-controlled buildings. 

Israeli officials also described Hamas’s claims that hostages were killed as false. 

“It’s a blatant lie,” Israeli military spokesperson Peter Lerner told CNN on Saturday. 

During his CNN interview, Sullivan also called for Israel and Hamas to initiate a cease-fire, reiterating a statement made recently by President Joe Biden. 

“The best way to get all of the hostages home and to protect Palestinian civilians is to end this war. And the best way to end this war is for Hamas to say ‘yes’ to the deal President Biden announced and that Israel has accepted, which lays out a roadmap to an enduring cease-fire and the return of all hostages,” Sullivan said Sunday. 

“That’s what we are driving for. And that’s what we’re asking the world to call upon Hamas to accept.” 

Biden welcomed the return of the four Israeli hostages rescued in Gaza. 

“We won’t stop working until all the hostages come home and a cease-fire is reached,” he said at a news conference in Paris alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Following the hostage rescue, Israel’s war cabinet minister, Benny Gantz, delayed a statement on June 8, in which he was widely expected to announce his resignation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emergency government. Gantz, however, resigned from his position a day later. 

“Netanyahu is preventing us from reaching real victory,” said Gantz, a former Israeli army chief, in a televised address, according to a translation. He said that Netanyahu should schedule a date for new elections. 

The departure of Gantz’s centrist party won’t pose an immediate threat to the government. But it could have a serious impact nonetheless, leaving Netanyahu reliant on hardliners, with no end in sight to the Gaza war and a possible escalation in fighting with Lebanese Hezbollah. 

Netanyahu, who on Saturday had urged the minister not to resign, wrote in a social media post that “Israel is in an existential war on several fronts. Benny, this is not the time to abandon the campaign — this is the time to join forces.” 

Reuters contributed to this report. 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS