Tensions are hitting a boiling point. But no one thought it would go this far.
And the White House’s evacuation announcement sent Washington, D.C. into complete madness.
During a news conference on Thursday last week, John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, revealed that evacuation operations would begin “to provide transportation from Israel to sites in Europe” for American citizens and their immediate families.
“The president has asked his team to ensure that we are assisting U.S. citizens who do want to leave Israel and providing them with a safe means of doing that,” he said.
According to sources acquainted with the situation, the United States intends to send at least four charter flights every day.
“They’re still working through some of the details of that, to assist U.S. citizens and their immediate family members who have, for whatever reason, not been able to provide commercial transit out of the country,” Kirby added.
“And I would add that we’re also exploring other options to expand the capacity of doing this, including exploring whether it’s possible to help Americans leave by land and by sea.”
On Saturday, Hamas unleashed a savage attack on Israel, killing at least 1,300 people, including 27 Americans, and injuring over 3,000 more. According to accounts, 14 more Americans are still missing.
“Sadly, five more families have now gotten the worst possible news that any family can conceive of getting. And we’re going to stay in touch with them as appropriate,” Kirby said.
“Same goes for those family members of those who are unaccounted for — and by unaccounted for, we mean that. We don’t know where they are. They don’t know where they are.”
According to the White House, Hamas terrorists kidnapped a “handful” of Americans in the region.
“So we’re going to obviously stay in touch with them as well,” Kirby also said. “And certainly we’re continuing to work with Israeli officials to make sure that we’re getting as much context and information as possible that we will share with them.”
The Associated Press reports that US officials believe that between 160,000 and 170,000 Americans live in Israel, with an additional 500 to 600 in Gaza.
Due to the high demand for flights, a State Department representative told Forbes on Wednesday that officials were looking into several possibilities for evacuating individuals, including “by air, land, and sea to nearby countries.”
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and civilians.
Blinken reportedly viewed images depicting victims of the Hamas attack, saying, “So, images are worth a thousand words. These images may be worth a million.”
“It’s hard to find the right words. It’s beyond what anyone would ever want to imagine, much less, God forbid, experience,” he said at a press conference in Israel reported by ABC News.
“A baby, an infant, riddled with bullets. Soldiers beheaded. Young people burned alive. I could go on, but it’s simply depravity in the worst imaginable way.”
Blinken traveled alongside Steve Gillen, the deputy special representative for hostage matters, who is expected to remain in Israel to assist in the hostage rescue.
The Americans missing or killed in the attack have not been identified by US officials, but the New York Times reported that among them are a mother and daughter from the greater Chicago area, a recent high school graduate from Long Island, and a young adult who was among the 260 people killed on Saturday morning at the all-night outdoor music festival called Supernova, also described as a peace party, near Kibbutz Re’im near the Gaza Strip.
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