The United States has taken action to ensure the safety of American nationals in the Middle East as the conflict between Israel and Hamas intensifies. John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, announced on Thursday that charter flights would be used to evacuate Americans out of Israel.
Over 2,000 people have been killed in the war that began when Hamas launched an attack on Israel by surprise on Saturday. This includes 27 Americans. Many Americans now want to leave the region.
John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, announced on Thursday that charter flights will be available to Americans departing Israel starting Friday.
Kirby stated that the U.S. Government is “acutely conscious of the limited availability of commercial flights right now out of Israel, and the demand from U.S. Citizens who may wish to depart.”
He said that the president had asked his team “to ensure that we assist U.S. Citizens who want to leave Israel, and provide them with a means to do that safely,” The United States Government will begin arranging charter flights from Israel to Europe tomorrow.
Kirby said that they are still working out the details to help U.S. Citizens and their immediate families who, for whatever reasons, have not been able to provide commercial transit outside the country. “And I’d add that we are also exploring other ways to increase our capacity to do this, such as exploring whether or not it is possible to assist Americans to leave the country by land or by sea.”
The government intends to operate four charter flights per day to transport Americans to Europe. The death toll is continuing to rise, and Israel is preparing for a major ground operation against Hamas. Over one hundred thousand Americans live in Israel, and many more in the Gaza Strip which is under Hamas control.
Officials in the United States estimate that 160,000-170,000 Americans reside in Israel as tourists, residents, or other capacities. Estimates place the number of Americans in Gaza at 500-600, which includes those who are working as humanitarian workers and visiting relatives. Egypt and Israel have blocked all exits to the blockaded territory.
In a press release, the State Department stated that it expected to initially assist thousands of U.S. Citizens per week in leaving Israel. The duration of the departure assistance will be determined by factors such as overall security, availability and reliability of commercial transportation, and demand from U.S. citizens. Travel.state.gov asked U.S. Citizens in need of emergency evacuation assistance to fill out the crisis intake form.
Kirby emphasized that the government was aware of the changing situation and that more Americans were expressing their desire to leave. He said the government would also respect those who choose to stay in the area. Kirby responded that Americans and dual-passport holders are spread out all over the globe and they sometimes choose to live where bad things happen.
The White House took this step because of the unstable situation in Israel, despite the fact that there are commercial carriers and routes on the ground. This is due to the White House’s concern for safety. Kirby said that the White House is still working out some details to help U.S. Citizens and their immediate families who, for whatever reasons, have not been able to provide commercial transit outside the country.
It is important that the U.S. government collaborates with Israeli officials as it navigates through this situation to ensure people receive accurate information, and those who want to leave are protected. Joe Biden met with senior administration officials recently to discuss the efforts to protect Jewish, Arab, and other communities in the U.S. following the recent attacks in Israel.