President Joe Biden privately apologized to a group of prominent Muslim Americans after he dismissed the death toll provided by Gaza’s Ministry of Health, according to a new report.
During a press conference at the White House on October 25th, Biden voiced skepticism regarding the number of dead provided by the Gaza’s health office, adding, “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed.”
His comments sparked fury from prominent Muslim Americans who met with the president the following day, according to The Washington Post. The five representatives of the American Muslim community criticized Biden for being insensitive, while others retold stories of civilians losing dozens of family members in Gaza.
The numbers from the Ministry of Health have come under question given it is part of the Hamas government in Gaza. That said, the numbers are believed to be accurate — a Washington Post fact-check of Biden at the time concluded the president showed “excessive skepticism” of the numbers put out by the Health Ministry, and that his dismissal was “remarkably uninformed by history and precedent.”
Currently the Ministry of Health says more than 14,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel declared war. The New York Times reported over the weekend that some 10,000 of those are believed to be women and children.
Since the Hamas terror attack on Israel on October 7 — during which hundreds of hostages were taken including a 3-year-old American who was released Sunday after seeing her parents murdered and turning 4-years-old in captivity — Biden has vowed to support the country with military and financial aid while also working with officials on both sides to negotiate a peaceful transfer of those hostages and prisoners and see Hamas unseated as the political force in power in Gaza.
During the meeting reported by the Washington Post, which scheduled for 30 minutes lasted more than an hour, Biden reportedly apologized for his comments.
“I’m sorry. I’m disappointed in myself,” Biden said to the group before he ended up hugging one of the participants. “I will do better.”
Biden officials have been meeting with staffers, political appointees, and outside groups to gauge their reactions to the administration’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict. Media pundits and political consultants have claimed that the conflict may endanger Biden’s 2024 electoral prospects.