Trapped US doctors are out of Gaza, White House says

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a briefing at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of U.S. medical workers left the Gaza Strip after getting stuck at the hospital where they were providing care, the White House said on Friday.

Reports emerged earlier this week of American doctors being unable to leave Gaza after Israel closed the Rafah border crossing, including 10 from the U.S.-based Palestinian American Medical Association, who had intended to leave after a two-week mission at the European Hospital in Khan Younis, a city near Rafah in southern Gaza.

On Friday, 17 American doctors and healthcare workers, out of a total of 20, got out of Gaza, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

"I can assure you that any of them that wanted to leave are out," Kirby said.

A State Department spokesperson told Reuters that some of the doctors that had been stuck made their way to safety with assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Three of the U.S. doctors chose not to depart Gaza, a source familiar with the situation said, adding that the doctors who stayed behind understood that the U.S. Embassy may not be able to facilitate their departure as it did on Friday.

The Palestinian American Medical Association, a U.S.-based non-profit, reported that its team of 19 healthcare professionals, including 10 Americans, had been denied exit from Gaza after their two-week mission.

The organization said on social media on Wednesday that it had a more doctors waiting to enter Gaza to replace the workers trying to leave.

Israel seized and closed the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on May 7, disrupting a vital route for people and aid into and out of the devastated enclave.

Gaza's healthcare system has essentially collapsed since Israel began its military offensive there after the Oct. 7 cross-border attacks by Palestinian Hamas militants on Israelis.

Aid deliveries began arriving at a U.S.-built pier off the Gaza Strip on Friday.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington and Brendan O'Boyle in Mexico City; Writing by Brendan O'Boyle; Editing by Bill Berkrot)