Hundreds of American citizens are stranded in the Gaza Strip even after 800 Palestinians with foreign passports — including Australia, the United Kingdom and the US — left the coastal territory Sunday.
BuzzFeed reports that the foreign nationals were given only a half-hour window in which to show up Sunday morning at a UN facility in order to be evacuated by bus. Some, including a mother with two daughters, could not find a way to reach it in time. One mother says she has been trying for weeks to leave Gaza by turning to the US Consulate, but they kept asking her for the same information repeatedly, instead of facilitating her exit.
But the US Consulate defends its handling of the crisis, saying 150 Americans were evacuated.
“We sent out a message on the 10th of July, telling US citizens living in Gaza who were interested in leaving to send us their information,” Leslie Ordeman, a press attaché at the consulate, tells BuzzFeed. “The consular staff then followed up with people. The end results were that those people who were willing and able to leave Sunday morning left.”
The evacuees left through the Erez Crossing into Israel, and the US Consulate says that people trying to leave into Egypt through the Rafah Crossing do so at their own risk.