Biden is under increasing pressure to launch an emergency military airlift for thousands of US citizens in Israel as other countries including Britain begin flying their people home
- A growing list of countries have organized military flights for civilians
- Israel continues to suffer rocket attacks from Gaza while using massive violence
- READ MORE: At least 25 Americans have now been killed in the Israeli attacks on September 11
The US has not yet announced an airlift to get American citizens out of Israel because the country remains under rocket fire from Gaza, even as several other countries have started operating flights to bring their residents 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 struggling to leave the country.
House Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) is among those pushing the administration to organize an airlift to bring home Americans and dual nationals who want to return to the U.S.
“You already see other governments, including Poland, sending military planes to get their citizens out of Israel, given the war. And I think we need to take every measure to get people home as quickly as possible, whether between commercial flights or 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, Britain, France and Germany are among the countries organizing flights home.
A Portuguese military transport C-130 transported 160 foreigners stuck in Israel to Cyprus.
“This is going to escalate very quickly,” he told CNN. “And I stand 100 percent shoulder to shoulder with Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu. They must eliminate Hamas, they must destroy them. They are a terrorist organization determined to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, sponsored and supported by Iran. And we must take this threat seriously.”
At the White House on Wednesday, national security spokesman John Kirby said there were still commercial flights and “viable ground routes,” while hinting at “active conversations” about organizing a way out.
“The State Department is actively engaging with American citizens in Israel – many of whom, as you know, have dual citizenship – to try to make sure that a) we have the connection, and b) that we know if they are worried about leaving,” he said.
“I think we need to take every action to get people home as quickly as possible,” Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) said.
White House security spokesman John Kirby said “active discussions” were taking place with Americans in Israel. But he declined on Wednesday to give details of any government response. Other governments have already organized military airlifts
‘So we are actively talking to Americans there. Right now, there are still commercial airlines – not all, some – flying in and out of Ben Gurion every day. There are still viable ground routes now. “If you want to leave Israel safely, that is an option for you too,” he said.
“But none of these options are necessarily feasible or affordable for certain Americans. And so we’re actively exploring a range of other options to help if Americans want to leave. I just don’t have the freedom to go into that in depth right now.’
The administration has not yet reserved plans to activate the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program, under which the Pentagon organizes private airlines to ferry Americans home during a security crisis. The program was used during the frenzied American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Americans remain trapped in Gaza, while Israel has amassed a 300,000-strong reserve force on the border amid a possible ground invasion.
The government says it is working to establish a possible humanitarian corridor so civilians can leave, but there are huge logistical challenges.