Palestinians in Gaza are bracing for an imminent Israeli ground invasion, in the wake of the deadly Hamas-led attack in Israel’s southern region last week. During that Oct. 7 surprise attack, Hamas militants stormed out of the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,300 Israelis and abducting dozens more, while firing rockets at cities including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Israel has since commenced a siege of Gaza, firing its own barrage of retaliatory missiles and killing more than 2,000 Palestinians, while restricting access to food and electricity in the region that’s long been blockaded by Israel and Egypt.
Sullivan, one of President Joe Biden’s most trusted foreign policy advisers, is expected to play a key role in shaping the administration’s approach to the conflict. On Sunday, he said he could not confirm whether any U.S. citizens have been killed in Gaza itself.
As of Sunday morning, the U.S. had not been able to get any American citizens through the border crossing in Gaza, “and I’m not aware of anyone else being able to get out at this time,” Sullivan told NBC’s Kristen Welker.
Ahead of its expected ground invasion, Israel has advised Palestinian civilians living in the northern part of the region to move south to avoid the expected fighting, but Hamas has urged people to stay in their homes.
The U.N. and aid groups have wanted that such an exodus could cause untold human suffering. The World Health Organization said the evacuation “could be tantamount to a death sentence” for the more than 2,000 patients in northern hospitals, including newborns in incubators and people in intensive care, according to the Associated Press.