Minnesota’s GOP congressional delegation is demanding answers from Secretary of State Antony Blinken after receiving requests for help from “Minnesotans who are in Israel or who have loved ones in the country.”
The letter to Blinken follows reports of a Minnesota woman and her husband who were killed by Hamas terrorists in the safe room of their home near the Gaza Strip. Keren Flash told CNN Thursday that her parents, St. Paul native Cindy Flash and Igal Flash, an Israeli, were among the more than 1,300 victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.
Karen Flash told the outlet that her mother was an advocate for Palestinian rights and would always protest “whenever there was” an Israeli military operation in Gaza.
“To date, we know hundreds of civilians have been brutally murdered including at least 27 Americans. We are also seeing women, children, and families being taken hostage by Hamas. As this disaster unfolds, our country must do all it can to rescue Americans in harm’s way,” House Majority Whip Tom Emmer wrote to Blinken Friday.
He was joined by his Republican colleagues from Minnesota, Reps. Pete Stauber, Michelle Fischbach, and Brad Finstad.
The delegation commented on the resemblance between Israel’s present situation and “the fall of Kabul and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” in which Americans were “stranded abroad without clear guidance on how to leave.”
“We are deeply concerned about our constituents who are still in Israel facing potential injury or death. Our offices are currently assisting Minnesotans who wish to evacuate and return home to the United States as quickly as possible,” they wrote.
According to the letter, other countries like Poland are using military planes to evacuate their citizens. On Friday, the State Department began arranging charter flights for U.S. citizens trapped in the Middle East, but they haven’t been provided with “clear guidance” or additional information on how to “access this service,” the letter states.
“We are also greatly concerned regarding the lack of transparency on the number of Americans being held hostage, those who have been killed, or those attempting to return to home,” the letter continues.
The latest estimate has put the number of confirmed U.S. citizens who have died in the conflict at 27. Hamas terrorists reportedly took 150 people back to Gaza as hostages and a “handful” of them are Americans, according to NBC News.
The GOP delegation requested specific answers on the number of Americans and Minnesotans who have been killed, held hostage, or are seeking to evacuate the region.
They also asked for detailed plans on how the State Department will coordinate with congressional offices on evacuating their constituents as well as directions for Americans who want to use the chartered flight program.
“It is vital for Congress and families to have accurate and transparent information regarding the safety and well-being of Americans,” they concluded.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.