WASHINGTON – Roughly 1,000 Americans are stuck in Gaza without a way out as Hamas terrorists refuse to open the region’s main exit route into Egypt, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday.The figure was revealed by America’s top diplomat the same day the State Department operated its final evacuation charter flight out of Israel.Hamas has refused to let anyone seeking to leave its territory through the Rafah crossing, where Israeli officials had told Gazans to flee to avoid its burgeoning ground offensive. Among those caught in the middle are about 400 Americans and their families — about 1,000 people in all, Blinken said, as well as an estimated 5,000 citizens from other countries.“We’re working with various parties to try to facilitate their departure from Gaza,” he said. “The impediment is simple: it’s Hamas.”Blinken added that his department was “focused on this intensively” and working with regional partners to hash out a way to get the US citizens out of Gaza.“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,” he said.The department has been “in close communication as best we can with Americans who are stuck in Gaza,” but so far, it has been unable to secure their exits, Blinken went on.“We’ve had about 5,500 communications that we’ve initiated – phone calls, emails, WhatsApp – to be in touch with them to try to guide them as best we can, and to work for their ability to leave,” he said.But Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told the secretary of the plight of one Oregon family he is in touch with who “relayed to me how they three times have gotten a text message [or] email saying, ‘Drop everything [and] go to the Rafah crossing,’ and they waited until dark. But each time, nothing happened.”“They weren’t interfered with by Hamas, just the gate never opened,” Merkley said. “With the trucks coming in [with humanitarian aid from Egypt], why can’t we at the same time … get those American families … out that gate?”Blinken acknowledged that the department has “had occasions where we thought that we would be able to move forward … only to find that the necessary procedures that had to be put in place to actually make that work couldn’t go forward,” insisting that “Hamas has been the impediment to that.”“We’re working on it with with Egypt. We’re working on it with Israel. We’re looking for ways to to get people out,” the secretary said. “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.”Other Americans are still trapped in Israel without flights home after major airlines canceled operations in the Jewish state following Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror spree that killed more than 1,400 people — including at least 33 US citizens.After about a week of calls for the Biden administration to help evacuate Americans from Israel, the State Department announced it would begin sending charter flights to pick up US nationals. However, Tuesday saw the last scheduled charter flight after State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said just five passengers had boarded one full-sized jetliner earlier this week. Still, Miller left open the possibility that the department could restart the flights should demand increase.
01 Kasım 2023 - 00:20
Hamas traps 1,000 Americans in Gaza as last US charter plane leaves Israel
Roughly 1,000 Americans are trapped in Gaza without a way out as Hamas terrorists refuse to operate the region’s exit route into Egypt, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Appro…
01 Kasım 2023 - 00:20