Left without rescue, American citizens are desperately, once again, looking to the Biden administration to help them escape a war-torn country.
The images of families pleading for assistance while parents beg the president to help them get their sons back is familiar to the administration. The events currently unfolding in Israel mark the third time during President Joe Biden’s tenure that Americans have found themselves trapped abroad with no promise of American government escort to safety.
As war breaks out in Israel following Hamas’ terrorist attack on the country, Biden encouraged Americans who want to leave the country to book a commercial flight or utilize ground options. But just hours before Biden made the announcement, commercial airlines such as Delta, United and American halted services in and out of Israel, leaving Americans scrambling and without many avenues out.
Among those stranded was a local church group made up of about 41 members from St. Louis, Missouri. The group is stuck in Israel because commercial flights exiting the country have been canceled, according to Fox 2 News. After receiving help from Republican Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt, the group was able to flee to Jordan while awaiting options to head back to the United States.
“They were literally on their own, in a foreign land, with a war going on, going to a country that they don’t know anything about,” church member Trevor Wolfe told KMOV News.
An Arizona family is currently stranded in Israel because their flight out of the country was canceled the day they were set to leave, CBS 5 News reported. Upon booking another flight, the family found out that more airlines had suspended their services, leaving them stuck.
“They originally told us that they could fly us out on Wednesday,” Kane Adkins, one of the Arizona family members stranded in Israel, told the outlet. “Now they’re trying to tell us that American air flights or air traffic is being canceled, maybe it might happen on Friday or Saturday, they’re saying. I have three little ones at home, and they don’t all know what’s going on.”
Even those in the U.S. are pushing the White House to make a move to save those stuck in the country; one set of American parents has been begging the administration to help them be reunited with their kidnapped American-Israeli dual citizen son who is being held hostage in the Gaza strip, USA Today reported. While protesting, the parents called on Biden to reach out to Hamas and demand that their son be released.
Three days after Hamas’ attack, Biden announced Tuesday that at least 14 Americans had been killed, then confirmed that more are being held hostage. The president pledged Monday to “deploy experts” to “consult with and advise Israeli counterparts” on how to rescue the hostages.
At least 20 Americans are missing and it remains unclear how many are held hostage, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Tuesday.
NEW: There are at least 20 Americans missing in Israel though the number of citizens being held hostage is unclear, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tells reporters.
14 Americans are now reported dead following Hamas’ attack. @DailyCaller
— Reagan Reese (@reaganreese_) October 10, 2023
Though the U.S. has not deployed efforts to evacuate its citizens, many other countries have; Poland is planning to send air force transport planes to get its citizens out of the war-torn country, according to Reuters. Hungary also carried out evacuation flights for its country, according to Voice of America. Brazil and Bulgaria are also deploying similar evacuation efforts, Aviation Week Network reported.
Meanwhile, the Mexican government successfully evacuated 135 Mexicans out of Israel on a military aircraft Tuesday, the country’s Foreign Ministry announced.
NEW — Mexican Govt successfully evaquates 135 Mexican nationals from Israel via military aircraft, per Mexican FM https://t.co/MAV04pjUgX
— José Díaz Briseño (@diazbriseno) October 10, 2023
While Americans remain stranded in the war-torn country, the president faced increased scrutiny for not making any public appearances over Sunday and Monday to update the country on the crisis.
The scenes of Americans abandoned in Israel bear a striking similarity to the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and its flee from war-torn Sudan, which both abandoned citizens in each country.
U.S. officials abandoned Sudan in April, leaving thousands of Americans behind. At one point the U.S. government estimated that at least 16,000 Americans were in Sudan, though the true number of Americans who were in the country and wished to leave was much lower, as many were dual-citizens. After telling Americans not to expect military help in order to evacuate, the U.S. was able to transport roughly 1,000, though it is unknown how many were left behind.
Just as they have been once again over the last several days, American parents pleaded with the Biden administration to help their children leave Sudan. Joyce Eiler, an American mother, claimed that her son had been told by U.S. embassy officials that he was “on his own” in his efforts to evacuate the country.
“I am incredibly shocked and disgusted by the American lackluster response to the health and safety of their citizens,” Muna Daoud, whose American parents were left to evacuate Sudan through Port Sudan to Saudi Arabia by themselves, told CNN at the time.
Similar scenes happened even before Sudan and Israel during Biden’s withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
After the U.S. military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan on Aug. 31, 2021, as many as 9,000 American citizens were left behind. Despite 13 American service members being killed in an ISIS-K terrorist attack during the withdrawal, Biden has continued to tout the operation as a success.
“We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history. With more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety, that number is more than double what most experts thought was possible. No nation – no nation has ever done anything like it in all the history,” Biden said in a speech that announced the final withdrawal of American forces and embassy officials.
Though only minor efforts have been made to rescue hostages and help American citizens out of the country, Biden confidently said Tuesday that the individuals are his priority.
“I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world,” Biden said.