More than 400 Americans have left Gaza, State Department says
More than 400 Americans, U.S. permanent residents, and their family members have left Gaza, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told Axios Tuesday.
Driving the news: Those who have left so far have done so through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, which was temporarily closed over the weekend but reopened Monday, NBC News reported.
The big picture: This represents an increase since Sunday, when Jon Finer, U.S. deputy national security adviser told CBS' "Face the Nation" that the number of Americans, their families, and permanent residents who'd left the enclave stood at 300.
- A "number of Americans" are still in Gaza, he said at the time, adding that the U.S. is still working to release hostages held by Hamas, which would require a pause in fighting.
- Moving the 300 Americans out of Gaza required "pretty intensive negotiations," Finer said.
- "This is obviously a major priority, and one that we're going to continue to work out until every American who wants to leave is able to do so," Finer said Sunday.
Context: About 400 Americans were in Gaza and wanted to leave as of Nov. 2, the Washington Post reported.
- Many Palestinian Americans have both U.S. and Palestinian passports, and those who leave do so by crossing the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.
- The border opened on Nov. 2 for the first time since Oct. 7, following the Hamas attack.
What's next: Israeli officials would consider a pause in fighting for a hostage release agreement, Finer said. But no such agreement has yet been reached.
- "Being able to move hostages around the battlefield in a way that is safe, get them to a gate leading outside of Gaza would take time," he said.
- "And we would only want to be able to do that safely. So we believe a pause would be appropriate in that context."
- Negotiations have gone on quietly behind the scenes, Finer said, and they have taken longer than U.S. officials would like.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect new numbers of Americans who have left Gaza.