Washington/Gaza, Oct 14 (IANS) The US State Department has informed Palestinian-Americans that their families stranded in Gaza maybe be able to evacuate into Egypt , as the Rafah Crossing Point — the enclave’s border crossing with the African nation — “may be open” on Saturday afternoon.
Saying that the crossing point “may be open”, Department’s Consular Affairs Crisis Management System (CACMS) told the family members that “we understand the security situation is difficult, but if you wish to depart Gaza you may want to take advantage of this opportunity”, CNN reported.
A State Department spokesperson told CNN they “are actively discussing this with our Israeli and Egyptian counterparts”.
“We support safe passage for civilians. We are working with our Israeli and Egyptian partners to establish a safe humanitarian corridor both for Gazans trying to flee this war and to ensure humanitarian assistance reaches those in need within the territory.”
This latest development comes after the US has continued to press the Egyptian and Israeli governments on “the importance of the Rafah crossing being open for American citizens and foreign nationals of other countries who want to leave and have the right to leave to be able to do so”, a senior State Department official said on Friday.
US officials have been engaged in discussions for days to try to secure a humanitarian corridor that would allow Americans and other civilians to safely leave Gaza ahead of an expected Israeli military incursion.
The UN on Thursday said it was informed by the Israeli military that “the entire population of Gaza north of Wadi Gaza should relocate to southern Gaza within the next 24 hours”, but IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN on Friday that any deadline “may slip”.
There are an estimated 500-600 Palestinian-Americans in Gaza.