27 Americans killed in Hamas attacks; US charter flights to evacuate citizens from Israel, says White House

At least 27 American citizens have died and 14 remain unaccounted for as a result of unfolding violence in Israel following the Hamas attacks, the White House has said, adding that the US government would arrange for charter flights to evacuate its citizens from the strife-torn Jewish state.

The Flotilla 13 elite unit of the Israeli military filmed in action near the Gaza security fence, retaking the Sufa military post. These soldiers have rescued around 250 hostages alive, killed 60 Hamas terrorists, and caught 26 more, including Muhammad Abu A’ali, Deputy Commander of the Hamas southern Naval Division. Screenshot courtesy: X/@IDF

The Palestinian militant group Hamas fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel on Saturday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in response has launched airstrikes targeting Hamas’s key infrastructure in Gaza. So far, over 2,000 people have been killed in Israel and the Gaza Strip in the biggest escalation in decades between the two sides.

India is one of the first countries to have evacuated citizens from Israel, with 212 Indians brought back to their homeland today by a special flight.

On the sixth day of the violence, the Israeli military said that more than 1,300 people, including 222 soldiers, were killed in Israel. In the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, over 1,400 people have been killed in Israel’s massive counteroffensive against the Palestinian militant group, according to authorities there.

“We are all acutely aware of limited availability right now on commercial flights out of Israel and the demand signal by US citizens who may want to depart. The president [Joe Biden] has asked his team to ensure that we are assisting US citizens who do want to leave Israel and providing them with a safe means of doing that,” said John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council at the White House.

“Beginning tomorrow, the United States government will arrange charter flights to provide transportation from Israel to sites in Europe. They’re still working through some of the details of that to assist US citizens and their immediate family members who have, for whatever reason, not been able to provide commercial transit out of the country,” he said.

The US was also exploring other options to expand the capacity of doing this, including exploring whether it was possible to help Americans leave by land and by sea, the White House said. “We are working hard on this, we know there’s a demand signal out there, and we’re going to try the best we can to meet it,” Kirby said. He encouraged American citizens in need of assistance to complete the intake form on the Travel.State.gov website.

“We can now update the number of Americans that we know have been killed is 27 and the number of unaccounted for stands today at 14. We’re obviously doing everything we can to support and inform the families,” said the official, adding that it was a common tactic in the Hamas playbook to break up hostages and move them around in small groups.