“We have reports that several Americans were killed,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on Sunday, adding that State Department personnel are working to verify reports of missing and dead Americans in Israel.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed it had a report of one dead Canadian and two who are missing. About 1,400 Canadians have voluntarily registered in Israel and 492 Canadians registered in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to Global Affairs Canada.
A Mexican man and woman are believed to be among those held captive in Gaza, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena tweeted Sunday morning. The newspaper El Universal reported that the pair had been vacationing in Israel.
At least two Thai nationals were killed in the conflict, Prime Minister of Thailand Srettha Thavisin said Sunday. Eight more were injured and 11 were taken hostage, Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said, according to the Bangkok Post.
President of Argentina Alberto Fernández said an Argentine citizen, Rodolfo Fabián Skariszewski, was killed during the attack on Israel.
The Associated Press reported Sunday that France’s foreign ministry said a French woman had died in Israel and that the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said two of its citizens were injured, one critically, during shelling in the coastal city of Ashkelon.
Britain’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday that it was in contact with the families of “several individuals” in Israel and the Palestinian territories. British media outlets reported that Jake Marlowe, 26, was among those missing; his mother, Lisa, told Jewish News that her son was working as part of the security team at a desert music festival near the Re’im kibbutz, close to the Gaza border, when he contacted her to say that “rockets were flying over.”
A 22-year-old Irish-Israeli woman named Kim Danti is unaccounted for in Israel, reported Irish public-service broadcaster RTE. She was last seen at a party in Re’im, RTE reported. It wasn’t immediately clear if that was the same music festival where the British national had been working.
“The firing of rockets by Hamas and the loss of life in fighting is appalling, as is the impact on people going about their daily lives. We condemn attacks on civilians unequivocally. The fighting should stop immediately,” tweeted Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
It isn’t clear if all of the foreign nationals were simply vacationing or whether any were studying or working in Israel or had dual citizenship. Some may have been serving in the Israel Defense Forces. A foreign national serving in the IDF is referred to as a “chayal boded,” which in Hebrew translates to “Lone Soldier.”
According to the Lone Solider Center, there are over 7,000 lone soldiers currently serving in the IDF, with about 45 percent of these soldiers being new immigrants coming from Jewish communities all over the world. Tour groups of Jewish youths throughout the world are taken to see the gravesite of IDF Sgt. Michael Levin, a Philadelphian who died in 2006 and has since become the symbol of the Lone Soldier.
There are multiple reasons foreign nationals would be in Israel beyond serving in its military.
Israel was conceived of as the Jewish state following the Holocaust, but the country has received massive international assistance to grow into a world-class hub for technology and scientific innovation as seen through its universities and private sectors. Even for those who aren’t Jewish, the nation draws researchers and the tech-minded to the Middle East.
In addition to the those looking to live an accessible Jewish life and grow their career, the country is also a tourism draw. Israel is the cradle of all three Abrahamic religions but also has many sites of historical cultural significance for those who don’t practice those faiths.
Jennifer Hassan and Mary Beth Sheridan contributed to this report.