‘Incredibly tough’: Up to 600 Americans trapped in besieged Gaza

Hundreds of American citizens are trapped in the besieged Gaza Strip under constant Israeli bombardment and have received no help finding ways to escape, according to interviews with people on the ground.

The State Department says about 600 Americans are in the enclave, which has been under heavy Israeli retaliatory airstrikes since Oct. 7 after the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, launched a terror attack in southern Israel that killed at least 1,300 people.

The Israeli air campaign and total siege against Gaza that has cut off electricity, food and water to the already blockaded area has killed 3,785 people so far, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

“America is not helping us, Biden is not helping us, the embassy is not helping us,” Amir Kaoud, a Palestinian-American at the Rafah crossing with several of his family members. he told NBC News.

The Rafah crossing is located on the border of southern Gaza and Egypt and is one of only two entry and exit points for Palestinian territory. The other entry point is at Gaza’s northern border with Israel. Both are currently closed and thousands of people have camped out on the south pass in the desperate hope of getting out.

Palestinians, some with foreign passports hoping to cross into Egypt and others awaiting aid, wait at the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on October 16, 2023.

Mohammed Abed | Afp | Getty Images

“They keep saying the same thing every day, trying to find a way to get us out. Nothing is happening,” Kaoud said. “The whole world, all the US citizens in Israel, are leaving. Why not us?”

Americans in Gaza who contacted the State Department said they were met with emails detailing evacuation options for people in Israel, but little help for those stuck in Palestinian territory.

“double standard”

Bombing threat

Officials say an agreement was reached Thursday to allow it limited humanitarian aid to Gaza; but the details of when the crossing will actually open and what that would mean for foreign nationals in Gaza are still unclear. US officials said aid could be flown into Gaza in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Israel has so far refused a temporary ceasefire unless Hamas releases the hostages it kidnapped from Israel on October 7. Israel’s government says Hamas is holding at least 200 hostages in tunnels under Gaza, including many children and the elderly.

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