By Doina Siaku
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 300 Americans and their family members have left Gaza, but U.S. citizens remain in the besieged area and difficult negotiations continue over the release of hostages held by Hamas, a White House official said on Sunday.
Among those freed are US citizens, lawful permanent residents and their family members, The deputy national security adviser said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Feiner said there are many Americans inside Gaza who want to leave as the Israel-Hamas conflict escalates, but did not specify how many.
About 400 U.S. citizens and their family members, about 1,000 in total, wanted to leave, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said last week.
Evacuations of wounded Gazans and foreign passport holders to Egypt via Rafah have been suspended since Saturday, but Egyptian, US and Qatari officials said there were efforts to resume them.
Gaza has been under fire since October 7 when Palestinian Hamas militants killed what Israel says were 1,400 and captured more than 240 others in Gaza.
Tough negotiations continue over how to free the hostages, including some Americans captured by Hamas in the attack, Feiner said.
“Those negotiations have been going on quietly behind the scenes. They’ve taken longer than any of us would have liked,” Feiner said. “But we continue to believe there is a chance that a significant number of these hostages will be released.”
President Joe Biden on Wednesday spoke of the need for a pause in the fighting to allow hostages to leave, and the White House has said it supports a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid to Gaza.
Gaza health officials say more than 9,770 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks. Israel, which has said it is targeting Hamas, has accused them of using them as human shields, not civilians.
(Reporting by Toina Chiaku, Additional reporting by Jared Renshaw in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware; Editing by Will Dunham, David Goodman and Giles Elgood)