National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that he knows of no American citizens who have been able to get out of Gaza as Israel prepares to mount a ground offensive in the region following a week of heavy bombardment by air.
“So far, we have not been able to get American citizens through the border crossing and I’m not aware of anyone else being able to get out at this time, though I cannot fully confirm that because it’s a dynamic situation,” Sullivan told NBC’s Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press.”
“Like I said, we’re trying to create the circumstances where American citizens are in Gaza and are looking to lead to get into Egypt and ultimately to the United States or elsewhere, that they are able to so. We’re working on that as we speak,” he added.
Israel ordered 1 million people on Friday in Gaza to evacuate ahead of a possible ground operation — just days after militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented, deadly attack on the nation more than a week ago. The United Nations and humanitarian groups warned that trying to move such a large number of people with a 24-hour deadline would be disastrous.
The U.S. is trying to move Palestinian Americans through the Rafah crossing, which connects with northeast Egypt, according to several media reports. Sullivan did not confirm or deny whether the U.S. asked Israel to delay its ground operation so that civilians could flee.
“First, I’m not going to get into our private conversations with the Israelis, but we are not interfering in their military planning or trying to give them instructions or requests specific to their military planning,” he said.
Sullivan also could not confirm how many Americans, if any, have been killed inside Gaza so far, again reiterating that they are working on getting Americans out of the region through a passage in a border crossing with Egypt.
“It has been difficult to execute that operation to facilitate their passage out. We are continuing to work that, and President Biden has put a team on it around the clock because it’s a high priority for us to be able to get American citizens out of Gaza,” he said.
Source: The Hill