More than 300 Americans and their families have left Gaza, but American people are still there, and tough talks to secure the release of Hamas hostages are still ongoing, according to a White House official on Sunday.
U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their families were among those freed, according to Jonathan Finer, deputy national security adviser, who made the announcement on the CBS show “Face the Nation.”
Finer said a number of Americans who want to get out remain inside Gaza as the Israel-Hamas conflict rages but did not specify how many.
There were around 400 American citizens and their family members, totaling around 1,000 people, who wanted to get out, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week.
Evacuations of injured Gazans and foreign passport holders through the Rafah crossing to Egypt have been suspended since Saturday, but Egyptian, U.S. and Qatari officials said there were efforts to resume them.
Gaza has been under bombardment since Palestinian Hamas gunmen on Oct. 7 killed what Israel says were 1,400 people and took more than 240 captive into Gaza.
Difficult negotiations continue on how to secure the release of hostages, including some Americans, taken by Hamas in the attack, Finer said.
“Those negotiations are going on quietly behind the scenes. They have taken longer than any of us would like,” Finer said. “But we continue to believe that there is the possibility of getting a significant number of these hostages released.”
President Joe Biden on Wednesday spoke about the need for a pause in the hostilities to allow hostages to get out, and the White House has said it supports a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid deliveries to Gaza.
Gaza health authorities have said more than 9,770 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli strikes. Israel has said it is aiming its attacks at Hamas, not civilians, and accuses the group of using them as human shields.