- The Biden administration’s evacuations of Americans stuck in Israel came too late for many who were stranded and left to their own devices to escape the war zone, several U.S. citizens in the situation told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- The Biden administration waited nearly one week after Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel to begin evacuating.
- “It’s embarrassing to be an American when all of these other nations are taking people out,” Kenneth Berg, who was evacuated by Republican Florida Rep. Cory Mills, told the DCNF.
Americans that were stuck in Israel days into Hamas’ attack were left to fend for themselves in a war zone as the Biden administration urged them to rely on booking their own commercial airline trips, several of them told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Biden administration began evacuations of Americans Oct. 13 after Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel Oct. 7 and killed, kidnapped and raped civilians, including American citizens. The delayed response left many left to their own devices as American commercial airlines cancelled flights and as thousands of rockets rained down near the airport, several U.S. citizens that fled on their own told the DCNF. (RELATED: DeSantis Announces Effort To Evacuate Floridians Stranded In Israel)
A U.S. citizen, who asked to be referred to as Sarah, along with her husband and two other friends, were desperately trying to leave Israel after Hamas’ attack, but the flights they booked kept getting cancelled. The State Department, at the time, had no plan to help them and instructed them to book their own flights and to look at land border crossings to Jordan and Egypt, according to emails Sarah received and were obtained by the DCNF.
“Telling a bunch of Jews to just drive into Jordan right now? Absurd,” Sarah said.
From the start of the war, major American airlines suspended flights to and from Israel, in addition to several European airlines, The New York Times reported on Oct. 10.
With no help from the U.S. government, Sarah said she and her group were “panicking and realizing it’s every man for himself.” The group had to split up and go anywhere in Europe that they could after waiting hours for ticketing agents.
The Biden administration’s evacuation is aimed to help Americans get out of Israel, but not to their final destinations, according to the State Department. Additionally, evacuees must reimburse the U.S. government for their transports.
“We were booking so many flights that were getting cancelled, we were worried about maxing out our credit cards,” Sarah said. “We are so privileged to have multiple cards with high credit limits, and family back home using their cards to book flights for us as well. Maxing out cards was a real concern for a lot of people.”
Starting Friday, October 13, we will arrange charter flights to assist U.S. citizens and their immediate family members who have been unable to book commercial transit and seek a safe means of departing Israel. From these locations, individuals will be able to make their own… pic.twitter.com/qRsSK3nVGR
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) October 12, 2023
Scott Harwell, who was visiting Israel from Alabama, also found himself stuck in the war zone. Harwell said four of his flights had been cancelled before he finally found one on Ethiopian airlines, where he had to fly to Ethiopia and to Ireland to get to the U.S. because American commercial airlines weren’t operating.
“Hopefully it’s not too late before Hezbollah gets involved,” Harwell told the DCNF of what he described as a “very delayed response” by the Biden administration to begin evacuating American citizens from Israel.
“I went to Tel Aviv and as soon as I get there, though rocket sirens start going off and [we] go to the bomb shelter and everything,” Harwell said.
When he finally got a flight, Harwell said the flight had to sit on the tarmac due to continued rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza.
“The flight was supposed to leave at like 2:30 Israel time, but that was when Hamas decided to launch a bunch of rockets toward Tel Aviv … we sat on the tarmac for about an hour before we even took off,” he said.
Former Republican Texas Rep. Mayra Flores, who is currently running again for congress, has family members stranded in Israel who are American citizens, she told the DCNF.
“It’s just heartbreaking. My advice to every American that has a plan to travel abroad is to have a plan in place because this administration doesn’t have your back,” Flores said on Thursday of her family, who were eventually able to fly to Rome days later.
In addition to her family living in Israel, Flores also had family visiting the country, she said. They have Mexican citizenship, which allowed the Mexican government to safely evacuate them.
Mexico brings back 135 Mexican citizens from Israel on its first humanitarian flight.
What efforts has Biden made in this regard for United States citizens? pic.twitter.com/sVWGuahulI
— Mayra Flores (@MayraFlores_TX) October 11, 2023
“It frustrated me because I also had family over there from Mexico that were visiting them and they were evacuated with the help of the Mexican government,” Flores said.
“It’s embarrassing to be an American when all of these other nations are taking people out,” Kenneth Berg, who was evacuated by Mills’ effort, told the DCNF.
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