The White House has been forced to delete a photo of President Joe Biden meeting U.S. special forces in Israel – which showed their faces and could have revealed their identities.
It was already known that a small group of U.S. special forces are in Israel advising on how to potentially rescue scores of hostages, including Americans, held by terror group Hamas in Gaza.
The image of Biden shaking hands with them during his visit to Israel on Wednesday was published on the official White House Instagram page for hours and garnered thousands of likes and comments.
It appeared to violate Department of Defense rules by revealing the men’s faces, which are usually blurred in any officially released photographs.
Everyday Pentagon practice is to hide the elite units’ identities, whether in training or on deployment.
The men, unshaven with beards, wore camouflage and had American flags on their arms as they shook hands with Biden.
It came during an event at which the president met with Israeli medics who had responded to the attack by Hamas on Oct. 7 which claimed the lives of hundreds of Jewish men, women and children.
The now deleted White House Instagram post read: ‘In Israel, President Biden met with first responders to thank them for their bravery and the work they’re doing in response to the Hamas terrorist attacks.’
The White House eventually apologized for the mistake in showing the special forces operators’ faces, and took the photo down.
‘As soon as this was brought to our attention, we immediately deleted the photo,’ a White House spokesman told DailyMail.com.
‘We regret the error and any issues this may have caused.’
Republicans slammed the blunder, with GOP Rep. Diana Harshbarger calling it ‘gross incompetence’.
On the presence of the special forces operators in Israel a Pentagon spokesman said: ‘We are providing planning and intelligence support to the Israelis as it pertains to hostage recovery.
‘That’s about the extent of what I’m able to provide right now.’
Separately a Pentagon official said last week: ‘There are personnel on the ground as part of a larger assistance package in support. And that includes military personnel advising and consulting on hostage recovery efforts.’
The White House has said there are a ‘small handful’ of U.S. hostages among the more than 150 being held by Hamas in Gaza.
The U.S. is ‘actively trying’ to locate them but there are ‘no plans or intentions to put U.S. troops on the ground to fight in this fight between Israel and Hamas’ according to the White House.
In 2018 aides to President Donald Trump posted a video on social media showing the faces of an elite team of Navy SEALs that had deployed to Iraq.
The President met with troops, posed for selfies, and signed autographs.
NEW: The White House admits they accidentally doxxed US Special Forces by posting an uncensored photo of them w/ Biden in Israel.
WH: “As soon as this was brought to our attention, we immediately deleted the photo. We regret the error and any issues this may have caused.”
— Bill Melugin (@BillMelugin_) October 19, 2023
Remember Biden doxxed SEAL Team Six after the Bin Laden raid too
Still think it was an accident?
— Jack Poso ???????? (@JackPosobiec) October 19, 2023