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‘Disappointed In Myself’: Biden Apologizes For Questioning Hamas Death Toll

By CM Chaney · November 27, 2023

In brief…

  • Biden apologized to Muslim leaders for questioning Gaza casualty figures
  • Faced backlash for comments seen as lacking empathy for Palestinians
  • Over 14,000 reported killed in Gaza amid war with Israel
  • Biden under internal pressure to adjust Gaza strategy amid ongoing violence
  • Temporary ceasefire reached to exchange prisoners and hostages
Biden apologizes following controversial remarks on Gaza war death toll that drew rebukes over a perceived lack of empathy.  The White House / Wikimedia

President Joe Biden issued an apology to Muslim-American leaders following remarks he made questioning the accuracy of reported death toll figures out of Gaza amid an ongoing war between Israel and Hamas militants.

During an October 25th press conference, Biden openly doubted the casualty numbers being provided by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled government.

“I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed,” he said.

The comments prompted backlash from activists arguing Biden lacked empathy towards Palestinian suffering in the weeks-long conflict.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry data, over 14,000 Palestinians have been killed, including many women and children. Israel has seen more than 1,200 civilian deaths from Hamas’ surprise attack on October 7th.

A day after his remarks, Biden sat down with five prominent Muslim-American advocates to listen to their perspectives on the war’s human impact.

“I’m sorry. I’m disappointed in myself,” Biden told the group, as reported by the Washington Post, after hearing first-hand accounts of people they knew affected by the violence.

The leaders urged Biden to demonstrate more compassion towards the Palestinians. At the meeting’s conclusion, Biden embraced one of the attendees.

Beyond external criticism, Biden has faced rising pressure within his own administration to adjust strategy in Gaza, as the war continues with no clear end in sight. Some Congressional Democrats have also voiced public disagreement with his response.

Biden has firmly endorsed U.S. support for Israel following Hamas’ October 7th attack. However, he also pushed both sides to temporarily pause fighting to facilitate critical humanitarian assistance into Gaza and negotiations around prisoner releases.

“For weeks, I’ve been advocating to pause the fighting for two purposes: to increase the assistance getting into the Gaza civilians who need help and to facilitate release of hostages,” Biden reiterated on Sunday.

On Friday, Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day truce, enacted to complete a prisoner swap freeing approximately 50 hostages in exchange for dozens of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.