‘Void of leadership’: DeSantis steps in, flies nearly 300 stranded Americans out of Israel

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News October 16, 2023

Two days after announcing Florida would arrange for Americans stranded in Israel to be transported to Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis welcomed home nearly 300 on Sunday night.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and wife Casey welcome Americans returning from Israel to Tampa International Airport. / Sinclair

DeSantis posted a video from Tampa International Airport, stating: “We are having our first flight of people being rescued from Israel. [The plane] has landed, over 260 people that wanted to get back to the United States and couldn’t do it, there was a void of leadership. So, we stepped up and led. We’re happy to be able to deliver and ready to welcome them back to the United States of America.”

There reportedly are roughly 20,000 Americans, including many Floridians, stranded in Israel who are unable to leave because of commercial flight cancellations and other travel and logistics disruptions due to the ongoing war with Hamas.

The Biden State Department said stranded Americans should book commercial flights although most flights were being canceled “due to mortar and rocket fire that may take place without warning.”

Team Biden also encouraged Americans stranded in Israel to arrange and pay for their own lodging. Any transportation out of Israel the federal government might be able to provide requires Americans to sign a promissory note prior to departure, according to a partial State Department email posted on social media.

DeSantis said the Florida government is providing free transportation to stranded Americans wanting to come home.

The Florida governor issued an executive order stating, “unlike the governments of other countries, the Biden Administration has failed to launch any form of rescue or evacuation operations for Americans, including Floridians, who are stranded in the region, and has failed to provide information requested by the State of Florida about any plans for such operations.”

“Floridians stranded in Israel are requesting help from the Executive Office of the Governor and from nearly every member of Florida’s congressional delegation, because they are not receiving timely assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Israel and are not receiving any follow-up after enrolling in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program,” DeSantis added.

Florida partnered with Project Dynamo to bring the nearly 300 Americans home from Israel, including more than 270 to Tampa and seven to Orlando on Sunday.

“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, reunited with their families, free of charge,” DeSantis said.

“Israel mourns its more than 1,400 murdered and 150 hostages in the devastating unprovoked terror attack perpetrated by Hamas,” Consul General of Israel to Florida, Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, said. “We have gone to war to eradicate Hamas and its allies and to uphold our values of freedom, humanity and the sanctity of life. The support we are receiving from Governor DeSantis, the First Lady, FDEM Executive Director Kevin Guthrie, Florida Commerce Secretary Alex Kelly, FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass and his entire administration and the state is overwhelming. We are very grateful for the special flights and supplies.”

Bryan Stern, CEO and founder of Project Dynamo, said, “We have a dedicated team of volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure the well-being of Americans caught in crisis situations all over the world. It’s truly heart-wrenching to watch the destruction unfolding in Israel. We’re so grateful to Governor DeSantis for partnering with us on this mission, to save every American in need.”

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