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Justice investigating deaths, kidnappings of Americans in Hamas attack

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is investigating the deaths and kidnappings of Americans during the Hamas terrorist attack against Israel on Oct. 7, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday.

Garland’s comments came as he announced a war-crimes case filed against four Russian soldiers accused of torturing an American during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The charges are the first filed under a nearly 30-year-old law that allows U.S. prosecutors to charge people over the inhumane treatment of Americans during war.

“Hamas murdered more than 30 Americans and kidnapped more” during the attack, Garland said. “We are investigating those heinous crimes and we will hold those people accountable.”

Meanwhile, Arab nations at the United Nations are fine-tuning a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in the two-month Israeli-Gaza war.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said Wednesday that it’s essential that the U.N.’s most powerful body demand a halt to the conflict following the resumption of hostilities in Gaza after the end of a weeklong humanitarian truce on Dec. 1.

Surrounded by members of the 22-nation Arab Group, Mansour also told reporters that a ministerial delegation from Arab nations and the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation headed by Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister will be in Washington on Thursday to meet with U.S. officials.

Mansour said the national security adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris contacted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday morning and that Abbas pressed for an immediate cease-fire and more humanitarian aid.

The United States has veto power in the Security Council and has not supported a cease-fire.

On Tuesday, U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood told reporters that the role of the Security Council in the Israeli-Gaza war “is not to get in the way of this important diplomacy going on on the ground … because we have seen some results, although not as great results as we want to see.”

A Security Council resolution at this time, he said, “would not be useful.”

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