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‘Gang of Eight’ briefed on Hamas attacks in Israel as American death toll rises

The “Gang of Eight” — a term used to describe bipartisan members in Congress briefed first on intelligence matters — was briefed Sunday night on the Hamas militant attacks on Central and Southern Israel, according to a source familiar with the meeting. 

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., confirmed the briefing on X, formerly known as Twitter, late Sunday night. 

“I was briefed this evening by senior national security and State Department officials in the Biden administration. The viciousness and brutality of this unprecedented attack from Hamas targeting innocent civilians—children, families, seniors—is overwhelming and heart wrenching,” Schumer wrote on X. 

“I asked the representatives of our Defense Department if they are giving Israel everything they need, and I was heartened that they said yes and that they are surging support,” Schumer said in a statement. “I asked them if they have denied any requests that Israel has made, and they said no. I urged them to ensure Israel has everything it needs to protect itself, and reiterated that the Senate stands ready to deliver on additional needs.”


Congress Debt

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill after returning from a debt ceiling meeting at the White House, on May 16, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

At the time, the department reps told congressional members that four Americans were dead. By Monday morning, that toll rose to nine, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller told MSNBC. More are expected to be found as Israel’s official declaration of war came Sunday.

“I told senators that we will try to hold a classified briefing they can receive in their states as soon as possible so we can get additional details that could not be disclosed on this call,” Schumer added.

Acting Deputy Toria Nuland and acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Sasha Baker were also briefed. 

Other members invited to the briefing include the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The Subcommittees on Defense and on Foreign Operations were also included. 


Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

The updated death toll comes as Israeli media says at least 800 people were killed in the Hamas attack, with more than 2,000 wounded. Terrorists also took more than 100 people hostage when they launched the surprise attack on Saturday. Israeli soldiers, grandmothers, infants and teenagers were all victims of the hostage-taking. 


A salvo of rockets is fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza as an Israeli missile launched from the Iron Dome defense missile system attempts to intercept the rockets, fired from the Gaza Strip, over the city of Netivot in southern Israel on Oct. 8, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images)


Thousands of rockets were launched into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip as Hamas terrorists announced “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm” and called on Palestinians from Jerusalem to Israel to attack Israelis.

Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report. 

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