DeSantis Airlift Saves First 260 Americans – ‘We Stepped Up and Led’

Governor Ron DeSantis has welcomed home the first 260 Americans rescued from Israel, thanks to the evacuation effort launched by his executive order on Thursday. DeSantis and his wife Casey personally greeted the passengers after they arrived from Tel Aviv, where they had been stranded for days due to Hamas’s violent attacks on Israel.

The Governor’s office said that around 75% of the passengers were Florida residents, making good on a promise to bring home residents of the Sunshine State.

“Once the plane landed in Tampa, evacuees were able to access resources from multiple state agencies. Additionally, the governor is sending medical supplies, hygiene products, clothing and children’s toys to Israel to help impacted Israelis,” a press release stated.

In a video posted by the Governor late Sunday evening, he told Floridians,

“We’re here at Tampa airport. We are having our first flight of people being rescued from Israel and it’s landed. Over 260 people that wanted to get back to the United States and couldn’t do it. There was a void in leadership so we stepped up and led. We’re happy to be able to deliver this.”

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On Saturday, DeSantis criticized the Biden administration for “dragging its feet” on rescue efforts and leaving more than 20,000 Americans stranded in Israel without a clear path to get home.

“They now say, ‘Well, maybe we’ll get flights and dump people in Europe,’” DeSantis said in a video, referencing the response by the State Department. “But people don’t need to be dumped in Europe. They want to get home.”

On Thursday, DeSantis announced that Florida would fill the leadership void left by the Biden White House and issued an executive order to begin rescue efforts. He directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to conduct the action.

“There are more than 20,000 Americans, including Floridians, in Israel who wish to return home but are unable to do so. This Executive Order allows the State of Florida to carry out logistical, rescue and evacuation operations to keep its residents safe. Specifically, this order enables the Florida Division of Emergency Management to bring Floridians home and transport necessary supplies to Israel.”

According to DeSantis, the Americans stranded by the State Department included Floridians from nearly every Congressional district in the state.

“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…

The Biden administration has failed to launch any form of rescue or evacuation operations for Americans, including Floridians, stranded in the region, and has failed to provide information requested by the State of Florida about any plans for such operations,”

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While campaigning in Iowa on Saturday, DeSantis also responded to the possibility that the Biden administration may admit Palestinian refugees to the United States.

“I don’t know what Biden’s gonna do, but we cannot accept people from Gaza into this country as refugees,” DeSantis said to his supporters.

“I am not going to do that. If you look at how they behave, not all of them are Hamas, but they are all anti-Semitic. None of them believe in Israel’s right to exist.”

Other stories you may want to read:

Trump Calls to ‘Ban the Antisemites’ from Universities After Pro-Hamas Rallies

DeSantis: U.S. Should Not Accept Palestinian Refugees

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