President Joe Biden has issued an apology to Muslim-American leaders after expressing doubts about the accuracy of Gaza death toll figures provided by the Islamic group Hamas. Biden openly questioned the casualty numbers during a press conference on October 25, raising concerns about Hamas’ reported figures, which have been known to be exaggerated. Hamas has been found to include its own terrorists as “civilians” in its casualty counts.

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

“I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s a price of waging war.”

The day after his comments on October 25, Biden met with five Muslim American leaders, where he listened to their accounts of individuals directly affected by the conflict in the Middle East. According to the Washington Post, Biden expressed his apologies during the meeting, saying, “I’m sorry” and adding that he was “disappointed in myself.”

The Muslim-American leaders who met with Biden encouraged him to demonstrate more empathy toward Hamas-controlled Gaza. Reportedly, at the conclusion of the meeting, Biden embraced one of the participants. According to figures from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 14,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including numerous women and children. Israeli officials report more than 1,200 fatalities, primarily civilians, resulting from a surprise terror attack by the Hamas group on October 7.

Biden has faced internal criticism and pressure regarding the approach to Gaza, with some prominent Democrats publicly expressing disagreement with the president’s response to the conflict.

Biden has affirmed U.S. support for Israel in the aftermath of the October 7 attack. Simultaneously, he has advocated for a temporary halt in hostilities to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza civilians and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Expressing his stance on Sunday, Biden stated, “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 the release of hostages. We know that innocent children in Gaza are suffering greatly as well.”

Commencing on Friday, Hamas and Israel agreed to a four-day ceasefire, allowing for a hostage-for-prisoner arrangement to unfold. This deal involves the release of approximately 50 hostages in exchange for temporary peace and the liberation of numerous Palestinian prisoners.