Monday, 16 October 2023 09:50 AM EDT
A flight chartered by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis returned 270 Americans from Israel to Tampa on Sunday as part of the 2024 GOP candidate’s Oct. 12 executive order to aid in bringing an estimated 20,000 U.S. citizens in Israel home.
“We are here at Tampa airport, we are having our first flight of people being recused from Israel. It has landed,” DeSantis said in a social media post on X Sunday night. “Over 260 people that wanted to get back to the United States and couldn’t do it [because] there was a devoid in leadership, so we stepped up and led. We are happy to be able to deliver that. We are getting ready to welcome them back to the United States of America.”
Tampa television station News Channel 8 reported that the plane traveled through Portugal to get to Tampa at 7:45 p.m. Sunday night.
The passengers included 91 children, and an additional seven evacuees were taken to Orlando, the report said.
DeSantis’ order last week directs the Florida Division of Emergency Management to bring citizens home from Israel that are having trouble leaving the country due to the recent conflict with Hamas there.
“There are more than 20,000 Americans, including Floridians in Israel who wish to return home but are unable to do so,” the order said. “The executive order allows the State of Florida to carry out logistical, rescue, and evacuation operations to keep its residents safe.”
In the order, DeSantis said the administration of President Joe Biden has “failed to launch any form of rescue or evacuation operations for Americans, including Floridians, stranded in the region, and has failed to provide any information requested by the State of Florida about any plans for such operations.”
The White House announced its plan to evacuate Americans from the region the same day as DeSantis’ order was issued, when White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the administration is planning at least four flights a day to get the citizens out, PBS reported Oct. 12.
The report said the administration confirmed 27 Americans dead in the fighting that has claimed more than 2,600 lives on both sides, and that there are a “handful” of Americans currently being held as hostages by the terrorist organization Hamas in Gaza.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited the area last week, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the U.S. will continue trying to get countries in the region to accept refugees fleeing Gaza, including Americans, as Israel prepares a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, the report said.
Charles Kim | email@example.com
Charles Kim, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years in reporting on news and politics.