October 31, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S. Seeks to Help Americans Leave Gaza

October 31, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S. Seeks to Help Americans Leave Gaza

Latest Developments

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on October 29 that Washington is trying to secure “the safe passage of any American in Gaza who wants to leave.” U.S. authorities say there are between 500 and 600 U.S. citizens in Gaza. Sullivan noted that Cairo is willing to let U.S. and other foreign citizens enter Egypt through the Rafah border crossing. Hamas, however, is preventing them from leaving and “making a series of demands.” Sullivan did not say what those demands were. At least 10 of the Americans in Gaza are hostages of Hamas seized on October 7.

Expert Analysis

“In addition to the Americans already killed and taken hostage on October 7, Hamas is effectively using hundreds more Americans as human shields, holding them hostage in Gaza while Egypt and Israel support their departure. The United States needs to put maximum pressure on Hamas’s sponsors, including Qatar and Turkey, to stop Hamas from risking the lives of American citizens.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Hamas has a culture of using civilians to shield its fighters. It does this not only by embedding its military infrastructure amid schools, mosques, and hospitals but also by preventing civilians from leaving the battlefield. By trapping American passport holders in Gaza, the terror regime is again ensuring that Palestinian civilians pay the price for the atrocities Hamas committed on October 7.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Ongoing Efforts to Help Americans

At a State Department press briefing on October 30, spokesman Matt Miller stated, “our work to ensure the safety of American citizens in Gaza continues to be our highest priority.” He added that Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed with Qatar’s prime minister how to help U.S. citizens leave Gaza.

On October 26, Miller said that at times, “we have seen Hamas militants actively there [at the Rafah crossing] with guns preventing people from approaching the crossing.” Likewise, he noted, “there is a problem getting people through the Gaza side into the no man’s land, where they can ultimately get across to the Egyptian side to be processed to enter into Egypt.”

In addition to the 500-600 U.S. citizens in Gaza, there are an estimated 200 British citizens there. The total number of U.S. and European citizens in Gaza is an estimated 1,700. Hundreds of people in Gaza are also citizens of other countries.

Israel war: Why wouldn’t Egypt want Gazan refugees?” by Haisam Hassanein

Hamas Exploits Suffering in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Points to Hamas’s Hoarding of Gaza Fuel,” FDD Flash Brief


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