There are “a lot of factors” contributing to why Americans trapped in Gaza have not been able to leave, even after the first tranche of humanitarian aid to the enclave was delivered via the Rafah crossing from Egypt over the weekend, the White House said.
John Kirby, White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said that while the United States is glad that aid is entering Gaza, “we still want to see safe passage out — and particularly for the several hundred American citizens that we know are in Gaza and want to leave.”
Kirby said Ambassador David Satterfield, the US envoy for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, “is on the ground working this very, very hard.”
The White House official said “there’s a number of factors,” but pointed to security concerns specifically.
“Certainly Egyptian officials have spoken to this, I mean, there’s, you know, they’ve got legitimate security concerns, and again, we just need to — we just need to work through that,” Kirby said.
He said ongoing negotiations over the release of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza “makes it impossible for us to publicly detail the efforts that are going on.”
Kirby declined to offer an exact number of Americans being held, telling reporters the numbers “have fluctuated” since Hamas’ October 7 attack. He said about 10 Americans are still unaccounted for but it’s not clear where those people are, “so I would still categorize it as about a handful,” he said.
American hostages Judith Tai Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie Raanan, were released by Hamas on Friday.