Blinken: Hamas Blocking Americans From Leaving Gaza

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday and warned that Hamas is preventing Americans and other foreign nationals from leaving Gaza.

Host Margaret Brennan asked, “In terms of what’s happening in Gaza. I know there are an estimated 500-600 Americans there. There are only two ways out. One is through the Rafah gate to Egypt. It does not appear any Americans have made it out that way. There’s also another Erez Crossing into Israel. Is there any chance Israel lets some of those Americans out or Egypt allows some of those Americans in?”

Blinken responded, “We have- you’re exactly right. We have several hundred Americans and other nationalities, other civilians from- from other countries who want to leave Gaza. We’ve had people come to Rafah, the crossing with Egypt. And to date, at least, Hamas has blocked them from leaving, showing once again, its total disregard for civilians of any kind who are- who are stuck in Gaza.”

“This is something that we’re working, again, virtually every single day. We have in the- right now in the region on the ground, one of our most experienced diplomats, David Satterfield, working with the different governments concerned with- with Israel, with Egypt, to make sure that we’re ready to be able to get people out, assuming Hamas lets them move. So really, the ball is in Hamas’ court, in terms of letting people who want to leave, civilians from third countries including Americans get out of Gaza.”

When asked to clarify if Hamas is preventing Americans from leaving Gaza, Blinken responded, “That’s correct.”

Brennan also asked if missing Americans, believed to have been kidnapped, are being held by Hamas or if there was a possibility that other militant groups may have them, Blinken did not provide much in the way of new information.

“Look, you’ll understand I can’t speak to the – to the details of this. We’ve been engaged from virtually the first day of this. I don’t want to be clear when it was clear that Hamas had taken men, women, young children, elderly people hostage, including Americans. It was really gratifying.”

“Yesterday, I got a chance to speak to the two Americans, the mother, daughter, Judith and Natalie Raanan, who were released. I spoke to them. We are very appreciative of the assistance that we got from the Government of Qatar, to make sure that they could get out and now soon be reunited with their families. We’re hopeful that- that others follow. It is imperative that every single hostage, every single hostage of whatever nationality, be released immediately and without condition.”

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