74 Dual-National Americans Depart Gaza Amid Conflict, Blinken Heads to Mideast for High-Stakes Diplomacy

by Madison Thomas
Gaza Evacuation

In a statement on Thursday, President Joe Biden disclosed that a contingent of 74 Americans who hold dual nationality had been successfully evacuated from the Gaza Strip. This update coincided with the initiation of a strategic diplomatic mission by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the Middle East, aimed at engaging with Israeli and Jordanian leaders amid the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas.

President Biden, during an Oval Office session with the President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, confirmed the evacuation: “Today, we have successfully extracted 74 American dual citizens.” The White House had earlier reported that between 500 to 600 American citizens were caught in Gaza as the conflict, which commenced on October 7, showed no signs of abating after nearly four weeks.

At the beginning of the week, it was acknowledged that five Americans had been among the numerous dual nationals who had managed to depart from Gaza, currently in the throes of a humanitarian crisis. John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, expressed optimism about the prospect of additional U.S. citizens leaving Gaza soon, indicating that the departure process was expected to gain momentum.

As the war continues, live reports indicate that hundreds are evacuating the Gaza Strip, urging Israel to consider a halt to the hostilities. The advance of Israeli forces toward Gaza City has been met with an increasing Palestinian death toll, now exceeding 9,000. Amidst the chaos and hope, the first groups of foreign nationals with passports have started their journey out of Gaza through the Egyptian border.

The facilitation efforts by Qatar, who has open channels with Hamas, have been highlighted as instrumental in the departure of American citizens from Gaza.

Biden’s announcement was timely as Secretary Blinken embarked on a critical trip to the Middle East with a nuanced diplomatic stance. Compared to his immediate post-attack messages, Blinken’s diplomatic approach now encompasses a broader and more intricate set of issues as the conflict intensifies, demanding the U.S. administration to balance domestic and foreign policy challenges as well as international sentiment.

In his diplomatic efforts, Blinken is set to advocate for further evacuations and increased humanitarian support for Gaza. He will urge Israel to curtail violence in the West Bank by Jewish settlers and emphasize civilian protection—a topic on which the U.S. administration has not yet criticized Israel, despite the high civilian casualty count in Gaza.

Blinken, addressing the press before his departure, emphasized the United States’ commitment to devising concrete measures to reduce the harm to civilians in Gaza, suggesting further dialogue on the matter during his visits to Israel and Jordan, with potential additional stops in the region.

Amidst these developments, President Biden also held discussions with Chilean President Gabriel Boric. Despite Chile recalling its ambassador to Israel over the Gaza civilian casualties—a decision not publicly addressed during their meeting—Boric condemned the disproportionate response by Israel and the contravention of international humanitarian law in interactions with reporters outside the White House.

The White House, in response, affirmed the U.S. stance with Israel, asserting its right to self-defense within the bounds of international humanitarian law.

Blinken’s agenda does not solely focus on immediate concerns but also on the broader Middle East peace process, including the establishment of a Palestinian state and the conditions for long-term peace. Despite skepticism regarding the feasibility of an Israeli re-occupation of Gaza, the post-conflict governance of the territory remains a pressing question, with the U.S. hinting at a potential role for the Palestinian Authority, Arab states, and international organizations in a post-conflict Gaza.

The Secretary of State will articulate the U.S.’s determination to foster conditions conducive to peace in the region, reaffirming the goal of a two-state solution—a longstanding but elusive aim for past U.S. administrations.

As Blinken proceeds with his diplomatic mission, he does so against the backdrop of shifting global opinions regarding the ongoing conflict, with the initial wave of international sympathy for Israel giving way to criticism over its military strategy and the concurrent rise in antisemitic and anti-Muslim violence globally.

Blinken’s journey is also shadowed by the delicate state of relations with Arab nations, as Jordan recalls its ambassador to Israel in a stark diplomatic move, underscoring the high stakes of his Middle Eastern diplomacy.

Acknowledging the severity of civilian losses on both sides, Blinken emphasized the shared humanity that makes the suffering of children in Gaza or Israel a deeply personal and pressing concern, committing to responsive action by the U.S. government.

As this report has been developed, contributions have been made by AP correspondents Sagar Meghani and writers Chris Megarian and Will Weissert.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gaza Evacuation

How many American dual citizens have been evacuated from the Gaza Strip?

74 American individuals holding dual citizenship have been successfully evacuated from the Gaza Strip, as announced by President Joe Biden on Thursday.

Who is the U.S. Secretary of State involved in the Middle East diplomacy?

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is the official dispatched to the Middle East for high-stakes diplomatic talks with Israeli and Jordanian leaders regarding the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

What is the reported Palestinian death toll due to the conflict?

The Palestinian death toll has risen above 9,000 as Israeli troops advance toward Gaza City amid the ongoing hostilities.

Has Qatar played a role in the evacuation of Americans from Gaza?

Yes, Qatar has been acknowledged for its assistance in facilitating the departure of American citizens from the Gaza Strip, owing to its communication lines with Hamas.

What will Secretary Blinken’s mission focus on during his visit to the Middle East?

Secretary Blinken’s mission will focus on advocating for the evacuation of more foreigners from Gaza, pressing for increased humanitarian aid, urging Israel to curb violence in the West Bank, and emphasizing the importance of protecting civilians. Additionally, he will discuss the post-conflict future of Gaza and the broader goal of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

What was Chile’s diplomatic response to the situation in Gaza?

Chile recalled its ambassador to Israel over concerns about the killing of civilians in Gaza. President Gabriel Boric has stated that Israel’s military response has been disproportionate and in violation of international humanitarian law.

What stance has the United States taken regarding Israel’s right to self-defense?

The United States, as articulated by the White House, continues to stand with Israel, affirming its right to defend itself in accordance with international humanitarian law.

What long-term peace process is the U.S. pushing for in the Middle East?

The U.S. is pushing for a two-state solution as part of the long-term peace process in the Middle East, where Israel would co-exist alongside an independent Palestinian state.

How has the global opinion shifted regarding Israel’s response to the October 7 attacks?

After initially receiving global sympathy for the attacks on October 7, Israel now faces widespread criticism for its substantial military response, which many believe is contributing to an increase in antisemitic violence globally and incidents targeting Muslims.

What is the significance of Jordan’s diplomatic actions towards Israel?

Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel, a significant diplomatic action, indicating heightened tensions and a response to the ongoing military operations in Gaza. The Jordanian foreign minister has stated that the decision will not be reconsidered until the operations in Gaza are halted.

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Jenny K. November 3, 2023 - 1:43 pm

finally some good news with the evacuations but its like a drop in the ocean considering the situation over there.

Tom B. November 3, 2023 - 3:17 pm

kudos to Qatar for helping out, never thought I’d say that. It’s complicated, all these politics but at least some folks are getting out safe

Mike R. November 3, 2023 - 4:12 pm

Can’t beleive we’re still dealing with this in 2023 thought we’d have found peace by now, what’s it gonna take?

Dave A. November 3, 2023 - 5:11 pm

why are we not talking about the root cause more? feels like we just treat the symptoms but never really cure the disease this conflict is turning into.

Sarah C. November 3, 2023 - 8:20 pm

It’s heartbreaking, all those innocent lives lost. Can the leaders not see what’s happening to regular people like us?


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