In a recent interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed that Hamas is obstructing the exit of Americans and other foreign nationals from the Gaza Strip. Blinken stated, “The ball is in the Hamas’ court in terms of letting people who want to leave — civilians from third countries including Americans.”

When directly questioned about whether Hamas was preventing Americans from leaving Gaza, Blinken affirmed, “That’s correct.” He further explained that the US has consular personnel on the Egyptian side of the border, but did not explicitly disclose whether any US personnel are presently in Gaza.

The revelation comes amid escalating tensions in the region, with thousands of Palestinians protesting and clashes occurring between protesters and Israeli security forces. President Biden recently spoke with Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie, who were released from captivity in Gaza.

Israel is anticipated to launch a ground invasion of Gaza, heightening concerns about the safety of civilians caught in the crossfire. The UNICEF has called for a temporary cease-fire to facilitate humanitarian support in the beleaguered Gaza Strip.

Blinken stopped short of publicly calling for a cease-fire but hinted at Israel’s historical practice of allowing humanitarian assistance amid military operations. He emphasized the need for sustained delivery of essential supplies such as food, medicine, and water to the affected population.

Addressing the high toll on Palestinian children, Blinken acknowledged the devastating impact of the conflict, expressing empathy for the loss of lives on both sides. He also responded to a question about an interview with Palestinian activist Mustafa Barghouti, stating that Hamas’ actions warranted a strong global response.

In highlighting the divergent visions, Blinken juxtaposed Hamas’ approach of “death, destruction, nihilism, darkness” with the US-backed vision of Israelis and Palestinians working, studying, and doing business together.

The conflict, initiated by Hamas on October 7, has resulted in significant casualties on both sides, with over 1,400 Israelis and numerous Palestinians reported dead. The situation remains fluid, and President Biden is pushing for a supplemental aid package to assist Israel in navigating the crisis.