The United States has pointed to Hamas as the party responsible for barring American citizens and other foreign nationals from departing Gaza.
This comes in the backdrop of increased Israeli military activities in the region. On Sunday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan mentioned that Hamas, labeled as a terrorist organization by the U.S., is impeding civilians from exiting Gaza.
Israel's military actions in the area have been intensifying, but specific reasons behind Hamas's restrictions were not provided by Sullivan, The Hill reported.
“Just as there is ongoing discussions and negotiations over the hostages. We are facing a similar situation with the American citizens and other foreign nationals who are trapped in Gaza, Sullivan said to CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
“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. 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 added.
Currently, there are approximately 600 Americans in Gaza. Like the broader population of around two million, these Americans find themselves unable to leave amidst the escalating conflict and dwindling essential resources. Sullivan emphasized that efforts are underway to assist these Americans in finding a way out amidst Israel's heightened military actions.
Throughout the past week, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have publicized their intentions to broaden ground operations within the Gaza Strip and amplify air and naval strikes. This has raised substantial concerns about potential civilian casualties, and for those who might be detained by Hamas, including Israeli, American, and other foreign nationals.
The conflict has resulted in the death of more than 1,400 Israelis, primarily during Hamas's initial assaults on October 7.
It is unclear how many Gazans have died in the conflict since Israel mounted its counter-offensive due to a lack of independent verification, but the figures are believed to be in the thousands.