About one thousand Americans are still in Gaza amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization. The number includes both Americans who arrived willingly in the Palestinian territory, as well as an unknown number of hostages.
The figure was estimated by Secretary of State Antony Blinken during congressional testimony Tuesday.
“We’re working with various parties to try to facilitate their departure from Gaza,” Blinken said. “The impediment is simple: It’s Hamas.”
The news comes as the final U.S. State Department evacuation flight left Israel earlier this week.
One of the recent flights included just five Americans. The State Department said that it could restart the flights if needed.
The terrorist organization that runs Gaza’s government refused to allow anyone to leave the region into nearby Egypt. Overall, there are about 5,000 foreign nationals in the territory.
“We’ve not yet found a way to get them out through whatever place and by whatever means that Hamas is not blocking, but we’re working that with intermediaries,” said the secretary of state.
Blinken said that the State Department had been in communication “as best we can” with the Americans stuck in the region. He estimates that there have been about 5,500 attempts at communication, including emails and phone calls.
Blinken was asked by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) about whether or not Americans could leave through the existing Rafah crossing. Blinken said that there were cases in which such an evacuation was not possible.
Tehran’s proxies killed 33 Americans, hold ten hostage, have trapped hundreds in Gaza, and attempted 27 attacks on our troops. Seems like it ought to be a story. | By @AndrewCMcCarthy https://t.co/NCkUBsssSi
— National Review (@NRO) November 1, 2023
He added that the State Department was “working on it with Egypt” as well as Israel.
“We’re looking for ways to get people out. But because Hamas controls what goes on for the most part inside of Gaza, unless it agrees, then it’s going to be very difficult to get that done,” Blinken said.
The news came after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) each helped evacuate hundreds of Americans stranded in Israel after the start of the conflict on Oct. 7.