Oct 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

U.S. will facilitate charter flights to transport Americans out of Israel

The Biden administration will begin arranging chartered flights on Friday for U.S. citizens in Israel who wish to leave the country, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Thursday.

Why it matters: The announcement comes amid limited availability of commercial flights leaving Israel and high demand from Americans, Kirby said at a press briefing.

Driving the news: The chartered flights will transport U.S. citizens and their immediate family members to destinations in Europe.

  • "We're also exploring other options to expand the capacity of doing this, including exploring whether it's possible to help Americans leave by land and by sea," Kirby said.
  • Details of how the flights will be coordinated are still being worked out, he added.

Zoom in: Once in Europe, the Americans and their families will be able to make their own travel arrangements, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement Thursday.

  • "Senior State Department officials are actively working with airline carriers and international partners on how best to provide additional options to U.S. citizens seeking to depart Israel or conduct onward travel to the United States," Miller added.

The big picture: Since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas last weekend, more than 20 airlines have canceled flights to and from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel's busiest airport.

  • 27 Americans have been killed since Saturday and 14 remain unaccounted for, Kirby said.
  • "We're obviously doing everything we can to support and inform the families," he added.

Worth noting: The U.S. has also been engaging with Israel and Egypt in recent days to arrange safe passage out of Gaza for Americans and other foreign nationals.

  • Gaza is facing an increasingly dire humanitarian crisis as the Israeli military continues its bombardment while declaring a "complete siege" of the enclave.

Go deeper... Israel-Hamas war: Death toll rises as fighting continues

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