The Biden administration estimates there are 500 to 600 American citizens in the Gaza Strip, with some looking for safe passage out, according to two reports.
A senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal that they are talking “intensively” with Egypt and Israel about arranging safe passage out, including over the border into Egypt.
“We have to carefully work with the two governments, and that’s part of what these discussions are about,” the official said.
The Americans and other foreign nationals in Gaza include United Nations workers and members of non-governmental organizations and journalists, U.S. and Israeli officials told Axios.
As far as what the U.S. is doing to get them home, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said beginning Friday, the U.S. government will arrange charter flights to provide transportation from Israel to sites in Europe. He said:
They’re still working through some of the details of that to assist U.S. citizens and their immediate family members who have, for whatever reason, not been able to provide commercial transit out of the country. And I would add that we’re also exploring other options to expand the capacity of doing this, including exploring whether it’s possible to help Americans leave by land and by sea.
“So, again, we’re working hard on this, we know there’s a demand signal out there, and we’re going to try the best we can to meet it,” he added. He encouraged Americans wanting to leave to fill out an intake form at Travel.State.gov.
He said the number of Americans killed in Israel was now at least 27, and those missing were at least 14.
The Americans are stuck in Gaza as the Israel Defense Forces are preparing for a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip against Hamas terrorists who committed the attack on Saturday that left more than 1,300 dead and over 3,300 wounded.
There are an estimated 200 hostages that were captured and taken back to the Gaza Strip. The Biden administration has confirmed that 27 Americans were killed in the attacks and at least 17 Americans are missing, with a “number” of Americans held hostage — their conditions and whereabouts are allegedly unknown.
Israeli leaders say they are cutting off water, fuel and electricity to Gaza until hostages are returned. Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Force leaders say Hamas is preparing for a long war with Israeli forces, gauged by the slowdown in rockets fired into central Israel. The Times of Israel reported more than 250,000 Gazans have fled their homes, with the vast majority sheltering in schools run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.