Oct 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis welcomes 270 American evacuees from Israel at Tampa airport

Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks at the 2023 Christians United for Israel summit in Arlington, Virginia. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Sunday that state-funded flights from Israel brought home nearly 300 Americans, who he said were stranded due to commercial flight cancellations.

Why it matters: The state's move supplements federal efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens from Israel due to the limited availability of commercial flights leaving the country and a mounting death toll.

Zoom in: DeSantis signed an executive order last week authorizing the state Department of Emergency Management to carry out "logistical, rescue and evacuation operations" for Florida residents in Israel.

  • The order also enables the department to transport "necessary supplies" to Israel, according to a statement.
  • Florida officials partnered with Project Dynamo, an international search and rescue non-profit, to orchestrate the flights.
  • One plane carrying seven evacuees touched down in Orlando and the other in Tampa, where DeSantis was on hand to meet with over 270 evacuees.

Zoom out: The Biden administration began arranging chartered flights on Friday for U.S. citizens in Israel who wish to leave the country following the conflict that has killed more than 1,300 Israelis and 2,670 Palestinians.

  • The number of Americans killed by Hamas in the attack on Israel climbed to 30, the State Department said on Sunday. At least 13 U.S. citizens are unaccounted for.
  • Florida officials estimate about 20,000 U.S. citizens remain in Israel without the means to return home.

What they're saying: "I am proud of how quickly we have been able to activate resources and do what the federal government could not — get Floridians and other Americans back home," DeSantis said in a statement.

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