11:03 PM ET, October 13, 2023
The US State Department informed some Palestinian Americans that the Rafah crossing “may be open” on Saturday afternoon
From CNN’s Yahya Abou-Ghazala
Saeed Al-Khatib/AFP/Getty Images
Some Palestinian Americans received the first set of instructions that their family members stuck in Gaza may be able to evacuate to Egypt Saturday afternoon, according to emails shared with CNN.
The US State Department’s Crisis Management System for Consular Affairs informed family members that the Rafah crossing “may be open” on Saturday.
“We understand that the security situation is difficult, but if you wish to leave Gaza, you may want to take advantage of this opportunity,” the CACMS email said.
A State Department spokesperson told CNN they are “actively discussing this matter with our Israeli and Egyptian counterparts.”
“We support the safe passage of civilians,” they said. “We are working with our Israeli and Egyptian partners to create a safe humanitarian corridor for Gazans trying to flee this war and to ensure humanitarian aid reaches those in need inside the Strip.”
Anas Al-Farra, a legal permanent resident of the United States who lives in the San Francisco area and is trying to get his family members out of Gaza, says the email falls short of what the U.S. embassy needs to do.
“Two ‘wishes’ and ‘wish’ in a situation that calls for much more than that,” Alvara told CNN.
Mai Abu Shaaban, a 22-year-old from Houston who also received the email, is trying hard to evacuate her mother and sister from Gaza this week.
“I had to put a lot of pressure on the embassy,” Abu Shaaban said. “It feels like we have been forgotten, and I personally feel like we are second-class citizens.”
This comes after the United States continued to put pressure on the Egyptian and Israeli governments regarding “the importance of opening the Rafah crossing to American citizens and foreign citizens from other countries who wish to leave and have the right to leave in order to be able to do so.” A senior State Department official said on Friday.
US officials have been in discussions for days to try to secure an agreement Humanitarian corridor This would allow Americans and other civilians to leave Gaza safely before an expected Israeli military incursion.
The United Nations said on Thursday that the Israeli military had informed it that “all Gazans north of the Gaza Valley should move to southern Gaza within the next 24 hours,” but IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN on Friday that any deadline “may Slips”.
The State Department official told the press accompanying Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the US focus was “on American citizens, but it can be assumed that other countries are involved in trying to get their foreign nationals out as well.”
There are an estimated 500-600 Palestinian Americans in Gaza.
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