In an interview with Scripps News, U.S. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said there are no plans for an "all-out evacuation" of Americans in Israel.
Patel said the U.S. is holding off on an evacuation as fighting continues between Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinian-backed group Hamas. Israeli and Palestinian authorities say there have been nearly 1,600 fatalities between the two sides, including many civilians, since Saturday.
"Our team at our embassy in Jerusalem is in close communication with impacted American citizens," Patel said."We have a web form and a hotline on our embassy website that impacted Americans can fill out to get further assistance, including potential to leave the country as well as American citizens who might need additional consular help."
Currently, the only area under a "do not travel" order in the region is the Gaza Strip. The U.S. State Department encourages increased caution when traveling to Israel and the West Bank.
Getting to and leaving Israel for some Americans may be challenging as some American airlines have suspended flights to and from Israel due to security fears.
Patel said that 11 Americans have been killed and some remain unaccounted for. He says it is "likely" that Hamas has taken some Americans hostage.
"The State Department is working around the clock to offer impacted families, consular assistance and do everything we can in this very difficult time to stand with our Israeli partners," Patel said.
The violence in the region is expected to continue as the Israel Defense Forces says Hamas has taken at least 150 people hostage.
Patel said efforts are underway to support Israel in its fight against Hamas. The Biden administration has already vowed to stage several aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea near Israel.
"We are of course working around the clock with our Israeli partners and with partners in the region to do everything we can to make sure that these hostages can be released safely and as quickly as possible," he said. "But also let me be incredibly clear, our partners in Israel have every right to defend themselves after what has been a very violent and atrocious terrorist attack on civilians, on concertgoers, on mothers, fathers, daughters and sons."
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com