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U.S. forces withdraw 17 of 20 American medical personnel from Gaza


Washington, DC: May 18 :
According to National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, seventeen out of twenty American doctors who were lodged in Gaza following Israel's closure of the Rafah border crossing to Egypt have successfully exited the region. It's over for them. Out of twenty American doctors, seventeen have so far come out today. "I won't speak for the other three, but I can assure you that any of them who wanted to leave are out now," Kirby said of the 17 who wanted to leave. The whole group of seventeen desired to depart; I won't comment on the other three, but I can guarantee you that those who desired to depart have already done so," Kirby stated.

As per a spokeswoman from the State Department, the Americans who managed to escape were assisted by the US Embassy in Jerusalem. "We have been in close contact with the groups that these US doctors are part of, and we have been in contact with the families of these US citizens," said a spokeswoman.

A source close to the situation told CNN that the three American doctors who chose not to leave Gaza knew that the US Embassy might not be able to help them leave in the same way, so they stayed put. They went on to say that the procedure "was an extremely unique one." The source went on to say that the Embassy team went to the Kerem Shalom crossing to meet the doctors at the border, but they didn't describe the doctors' means of transportation.

Twenty-one out of twenty American doctors were left behind in Gaza when Israel closed the Rafah–Egypt border crossing, and according to CNN, humanitarian groups will have a hard time bringing their colleagues back. The backfilling of the American doctors' needs is still a big worry, according to sources involved with the efforts to assist them in escaping. This is mainly due to the fact that the Rafah crossing is still blocked since Jewish forces captured it early last week.

When the Rafah crossing was operational, it served as the sole point of entry and exit for international relief workers. The reopening of the border has not been agreed upon by Israeli and Egyptian officials hence far. An insider said that Dr. Adam Hamawy, who was instrumental in saving the life of Sen. Tammy Duckworth twenty years ago in Iraq, is one of the medics who choose to remain behind. According to a CNN article citing an anonymous source, Hamawy felt uncomfortable leaving Gaza without other medical professionals stepping in to replace him after travelling there with the Palestinian American Medical Association.

Duckworth is one of several lawmakers who are collaborating with the Biden administration to increase pressure on Israel to get humanitarian workers and assistance workers access to Gaza and the necessary clearances to do their jobs. According to a senior USAID official who spoke out earlier this week, Israel isn't taking good enough measures to protect aid workers. Due to the intricate nature of the environment, the deconfliction methods have not yet reached the necessary peak. Thus, those discussions must go on until a situation is created in which humanitarian relief workers are allowed to function legally and safely. According to Sonali Korde, assistant to the administrator of USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, Gaza is a "very dangerous place to work," and despite this, they still have a long way to go.