White House 'working to get' trapped American doctors out of Gaza hospital

'These are impacted American citizens. And so, we're working to get them out,' says spokeswoman

10:20 - 16/05/2024 Perşembe
File Photo
File Photo

The White House said Wednesday it is "working to" secure the release of a group of American doctors trapped at the European Hospital in the Gaza Strip.

Spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said the White House has been in direct contact with the doctors' representatives and their families, and is working with Israel to facilitate their departure.

"We're doing everything that we can," she said. "Regardless if there was an operation in Rafah, or potential operation in Rafah, we need to get them out. We want to get them out. It has nothing to do with anything else. These are impacted American citizens. And so, we're working to get them out."

The 19 doctors with the Palestinian American Medical Association traveled May 1 to Gaza to provide emergency medical services to Palestinians as part of a World Health Organization-organized mission.

The group was scheduled to depart Monday but was not able to because of the closure of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Israel.

Israel seized the border post last week as it began its avowed invasion of Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under intense international pressure, including from Washington, to refrain from launching an offensive on Rafah due to the risk that it would exponentially worsen Gaza's humanitarian catastrophe. He maintained earlier Wednesday in an interview with the American network, CNBC, that his forces would execute the operation, saying, "Sometimes you have to, you just have to do what is required to ensure your survival and your future."

Israel's current onslaught was precipitated by a Hamas-led cross-border attack on Oct. 7 in which less than 1,200 people were killed, and hundreds taken to Gaza as hostages. About 130 remain in captivity.

Gaza's Health Ministry said Wednesday that the death toll has hit 35,233 with nearly 80,000 injured.

Seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins, pushing 85% of the enclave's population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). An interim ruling in January said it is "plausible" that Tel Aviv is committing what has been referred to as the "crime of crimes" in Gaza, ordering it to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

But Israel has continued its offensive, and aid deliveries remain far short of pre-war levels. Even then, the coastal territory was heavily reliant on external assistance due to Israel's 17-year blockade.

#European Hospital
#Karine Jean-Pierre
#White House
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