More than 300 Americans got out of Gaza, more remain, White House says

Protest demanding release of hostages captured from Israel by Hamas, in London

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -More than 300 Americans and their family members have left Gaza but U.S. citizens remain in the besieged enclave and difficult negotiations continue on securing release of hostages taken by Hamas, a White House official said on Sunday.

Those released included U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and their family members, Jonathan Finer, deputy national security adviser, said on the CBS program "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.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu, additional reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware; Editing by Will Dunham, David Goodman and Giles Elgood)