Seventy-four American citizens and family members exited Gaza via the Egyptian border, John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council of the White House, said in a press briefing on Thursday. Kirby confirmed a number that U.S. President Joe Biden shared with reporters earlier in the day, as he met in the Oval Office with Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader.
The 74 are “in addition to the five Americans who departed Gaza yesterday,” Kirby said on Thursday. “And I want to stress that these numbers are changing in real time.”
Asked if it is part of Washington’s deal with Cairo that none of the 74 will stay in Egypt, Kirby said “That’s going to be up to them.”
“They’re free citizens. They’re American citizens, and they’ve got families to look after,” he said. “Now we’re going to be working on whatever forward, onward movement they might want. Some may not want that, but we’ll work that out individually with each family.”
“The good news: We got—we got out, today, 74 American folks out that are dual citizens,” Biden said earlier in the day, in response to a reporter’s question as he met with the Dominican president. “They’re coming home.”
Coming out of a meeting with President Luis Lacalle Pou, of Uruguay, on Friday, Biden responded to a reporter’s question about what his message is for Americans trying to exit Gaza. “They are coming home, a lot of people,” he said.
Per a White House readout of the president’s meeting with Abinader, Biden “reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law and expressed the administration’s support for ensuring the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.” Biden also thanked Abinader for his support of Ukraine, per the readout.
The U.S. State Department has said that 400 American citizens and their families—some 1,000 people in total—hope to leave Gaza. Kirby has previously said that Hamas is “making it difficult” to evacuate those who want to leave.