WASHINGTON, D.C. - We are still monitoring the crisis in Israel. We’ve learned that Israel's military directed the evacuation of all civilians living in Gaza city ahead of a potential ground offensive. The Biden administration and our congressional members are trying to help Americans who are over there safely return back to the US. On Friday, the US began charter flight to help US citizens and immediate family members who have been unable to book commercial flights out as a safe way to leave Israel.  

According to a State Department spokesperson, more than 20-thousand US citizens have reached out online or over the phone since October 7, but not all of those have actively sought their assistance with transportation. The spokesperson also said they have sent messages to every US citizen who has indicated interest in departure assistance. The spokesperson said they are not in a position to share detailed breakdowns of the number of US citizens who have sought departure assistance given this is an unfolding situation. What we do know is the White House confirms at least 27 Americans have died from the conflict and a little more than a dozen US nationals are still missing. 

Congressional members are sharing information with their constituents on how to get back to the US safely. This comes at a time when tensions between Hamas and Israel continues to grow. Some members worry that the conflict could expand to additional fronts and are urging the Biden administration to make sure Israel has any munitions, intelligence or humanitarian resources they need. 

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D- NY) said Schumer is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to Israel this weekend.  

Senator Bob Casey (D- PA) sent this statement to Erie News Now on the situation in Israel: "As American citizens are trying to get out of Israel after Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack, I strongly encourage Americans in Israel to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that the embassy is aware of your location and can send you safety updates. If Pennsylvanians have a loved one who is struggling to leave the country, please do not hesitate to contact my office and we will do our best to assist and provide the latest guidance. We must keep Americans safe as we stand with Israel.”

Senator John Fetterman (D- PA) office sent this statement to Erie News Now on the situation in Israel: “Sen. Fetterman and our office are working as hard as possible to bring all Pennsylvanians home from Israel. If anyone or their loved ones are affected by this tragedy, our office urges you to visit our website at https://www.fetterman.senate.gov/israel-palestine-conflict-resources/ or contact our office at [email protected] so we can do our best to provide assistance and guidance.”