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Options to evacuate Israel ‘not feasible’ for some: John Kirby

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(NewsNation) —As the number of Americans who have died in the Israel-Hamas war is rising, the State Department is exploring options to evacuate U.S. citizens who want to leave.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby joined “The Hill on NewsNation” to discuss efforts to safely get Americans out of the war zone.

Kirby said commercial flights from Ben Gurion Airport are still operational, and there are some viable ground routes for Americans who want to leave.

“We are mindful, though, that there could be some who using the commercial options, or the ground route options, are either not feasible or affordable,” he said. “And so we are actively exploring other options.”

The number of Americans who have died in the Israel-Hamas war is now at 22, the State Department said Wednesday, an increase from the 14 reported Tuesday.

President Joe Biden this week confirmed U.S. citizens are among the estimated 150 hostages captured by Hamas after the Palestinian militant group’s attack.

There are currently 17 U.S. citizens unaccounted for, Kirby said at a White House press briefing.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., recently voiced his concerns on social media, stating that Americans are stranded in a war zone for the second time in two years.

Fiji, Hungary and South Korea have already used airlines to evacuate citizens. Canada and Germany have announced evacuation flights in the coming days.

It would seem that the United States is behind several countries in evacuation efforts.

“I would just say stay tuned,” Kirby said. “I think we’ll have more to say very soon about what some of those options are going to look like.”

Major airlines have suspended flights in and out of Israel after the nation declared war following the attack by Hamas.

Kirby said the U.S. is engaged with airlines to facilitate the safe return of Americans. While domestic U.S. carriers have opted not to fly to Ben Gurion Airport at this time, international carriers are still operational in the region, and discussions are ongoing.

While Kirby couldn’t provide a specific timeline for the evacuation efforts, he emphasized the urgency of addressing the situation.

“There are many Americans who live and work in Israel,” Kirby said. “For many of them, it’s home, and they don’t want to leave.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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