1,000 Americans Left Behind as Last US Charter Plane Leaves Israel

A day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said up to 1,000 Americans were stuck in Gaza as war rages around them, new reports said a handful of U.S. citizens were allowed to exit. State Department representative Matthew Miller said some Americans would be able to leave Wednesday, according to CBS. Although Miller would not provide a number, a list released by Hamas of those approved to cross into Egypt had the names of five Americans on it, CBS reported. It was unclear if more Americans would be allowed to leave. However, according to testimony Tuesday from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, hundreds and hundreds more Americans remain trapped, according to the New York Post. The U.S. has been getting Americans out of the region. On Tuesday, the final U.S. charter flight from Israel brought out five Americans, Miller said. Airlines canceled flights after the Oct. 7 massacre of 1,400 Israelis by Hamas. Blinken said Hamas has been the main obstacle to evacuating U.S. citizens and their families. “We’re working with various parties to try to facilitate their departure from Gaza,” he said. “The impediment is simple: It’s Hamas.” “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. He added the State Department is “in close communication as best we can with Americans who are stuck in Gaza,” but without much that it can tell them. “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. Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said a family that has been in touch with his office said the communication has been of little help. He said to Blinken during a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting that the family “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. 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?” he said. Blinen said there were “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,” adding that “Hamas has been the impediment to that.” “We’re working on it with Egypt. We’re working on it with 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,” he said. On Sunday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan indicated Hamas had been less than helpful. “It is true the Egyptians are prepared to allow American citizens and foreign nationals to come through the Rafah gate into Egypt. The Israelis have no issue with that,” he said. “Hamas has been preventing their departure and making a series of demands. I can’t go through those demands in public, but that is the subject of the discussions in the negotiations that are ongoing,” he said in a CNN interview cited by The Hill.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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