(The Center Square) – After Hamas attacked Israel, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state would be advancing greater sanctions against Iran. He also declared a state of emergency and issued an executive order to activate the national and state guard and other agencies to help bring Americans home who are stranded in Israel.
According to some news reports, there are roughly 20,000 Americans, including many Floridians, who are stranded in Israel. They are unable to get out because of commercial flight cancellations and other travel and logistics disruptions due to the ongoing war with Hamas.
The U.S. State Department encouraged stranded Americans to book commercial flights while also recognizing that these flights were being canceled “due to mortar and rocket fire that may take place without warning.”
It also encouraged Americans to arrange and pay for their own lodging. Any transportation out of Israel the federal government might be able to provide requires Americans to sign a promissory note prior to departure, according to a partial State Department email posted on social media by a Jewish rabbi.
One email notes that the Biden administration is providing transportation by air to Athens or Frankfurt or by sea to Haifa or Cyprus, and Americans have no ability to choose their destination.
Critics have pointed out the federal government is flying hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals throughout the U.S. after they’ve illegally entered instead of deporting them. They’re being put up in hotels free of charge, given free meals and medical care, as well as other free services, all paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Unlike Americans stranded in Israel, none of the illegal foreign nationals are required to sign a promissory note promising to repay the government for transporting them into the interior; they also get to choose their destination city of choice.
By contrast, Florida is providing free transportation to stranded Americans wanting to come home.
According to DeSantis’ executive order “unlike the governments of other countries, the Biden Administration has failed to launch any form of rescue or evacuation operations for Americans, including Floridians, who are stranded in the region, and has failed to provide information requested by the State of Florida about any plans for such operations.”
“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,” DeSantis said.
By declaring a state of emergency, DeSantis directed the Division of Emergency Management to execute a “Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and other response, recovery, and mitigation plans necessary to cope with the emergency, including any logistical, rescue, or evacuation operations.”
This also includes activating the Emergency Management Assistance Compact with other states to coordinate the allocation of resources “to best meet the dangers presented by this emergency.”
DeSantis also ordered the Adjutant General to activate the Florida National Guard and ordered the Director of the State Guard to activate the Florida State Guard to respond to the emergency as needed.
He also authorized allocation of funds to support these operations through the Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund.
The executive order is effective for 60 days.
Florida is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the world. The Miami area has the second-largest population of Israeli-American citizens in the U.S.