Biden is under growing pressure to launch an emergency military airlift for thousands of US citizens in Israel as other countries, including Britain, begin flying their people home
- More and more nations are organizing military flights for their citizens
- Israel continues to suffer rocket attacks from Gaza as it masses its forces
The U.S. has not yet announced an airlift to get U.S. citizens out of Israel as the country continues to come under rocket fire from Gaza, even as several other nations have begun operating flights to bring their people home.
American, Delta and United are among the airlines that have suspended flights to Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv, leaving Americans and other foreigners desperate to leave the country.
House Representative Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) is among those who have urged the administration to begin organizing an airlift to bring home Americans and dual citizens seeking to return to the United States
“You are already seeing that other governments, including Poland, are sending military planes to get their citizens out of Israel in the face of war.” And I think we must take all measures to bring people home as quickly as possible, both with commercial flights as well as military aircraft,” he said.
President Biden is under pressure to organize an airlift to get Americans and dual citizens out of Israel amid continued rocket attacks and a rising death toll following Saturday’s Hamas attack
In addition to Poland, Great Britain, France and Germany are also among the countries that organize flights home.
A Portuguese C-130 military transport transported 160 foreigners captured in Israel to Cyprus.
“This is going to escalate very quickly,” he told CNN. “And I stand 100 percent with Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu.” They have to eliminate Hamas, they have to destroy it. They are a terrorist organization determined to wipe Israel from the face of the earth, sponsored and supported by Iran. And we must take this threat seriously.”
Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, national security spokesman John Kirby said there were still commercial flights and “viable ground routes,” while pointing to “ongoing discussions” about organizing a way out.
“The State Department is in active contact with American citizens in Israel – as you know, many of whom have dual nationality – to ensure that a) we have the connection and b) that we know whether “you have concerns if they want to go,” he said.
“I think we need to take every action to get people home as quickly as possible,” said Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.)
White House security spokesman John Kirby said there were “active discussions” with Americans in Israel. However, he declined to provide details of a government response on Wednesday. Other governments have already organized military airlifts
“So we are in active discussions with the Americans on the ground.” Currently, there are still commercial airlines – not all, but some – that fly to and from Ben Gurion every day. There are still viable ground routes. “If you want to leave Israel safely, this is also an option for you,” he said.
“But none of these options may be necessarily feasible or affordable for certain Americans. That’s why we’re actively exploring a number of other options to help Americans if they want to leave. I’m just not at liberty to go into more detail now.”
The administration has no plans yet to activate the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program, in which the Pentagon organizes private aircraft to bring Americans home during a security crisis. The program was used during the hectic US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Americans remain trapped in Gaza as Israel has assembled a reserve force of 300,000 on the border in response to a possible ground invasion.
The government says it is working to establish a possible humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to leave, but there are huge logistical challenges.