Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday declared a state of emergency in response to the war between Israel and Hamas, with his office saying the declaration allows the Florida Division of Emergency Management to “bring Floridians home and transport necessary supplies to Israel.”
The declaration came as the federal government said it is arranging charter flights to transport Americans. Some commercial airlines have halted service to Israel amid the escalating war that started Saturday with Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel.
DeSantis’ order, in part, called for activation of the Florida National Guard and Florida State Guard as needed. It also directed Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie to carry out a state emergency-management plan and “other response, recovery and mitigation plans necessary to cope with the emergency, including any logistical, rescue or evacuation operations.”
While a news release from DeSantis’ office said the order enables the Division of Emergency Management to “bring Floridians home” and transport supplies to Israel, it did not provide details about how such efforts could be undertaken.
DeSantis on Thursday was in New Hampshire, beginning a two-day trip to the early primary state in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
The governor’s office said more than 20,000 Americans are in Israel who “wish to return home but are unable to do so.”
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said during a White House briefing that the Biden administration has started to arrange charter flights to transport Americans in Israel to other locations.
“Beginning tomorrow, the United States government will arrange charter flights to provide transportation from Israel to sites in Europe,” Kirby said. “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 that the federal government is exploring ways to help Americans leave by land or sea.
“In this time of crisis, we’re focused on getting things done and supporting Israel, that’s where our heads are,” Kirby said.
Kirby said he didn’t have “hard figures” on the number of Americans who want to get out of Israel, adding, “We do know there are certain American citizens that want to go.”
As of Thursday afternoon, 27 Americans had been killed in the war, and 14 Americans were unaccounted for, Kirby said.
Part of DeSantis’ emergency order said the attack on Israel “has prompted demonstrations and fundraising campaigns throughout the United States, including Florida, intended to intimidate and threaten the Jewish population and to support Hamas.”
It said “protective operations” involving agencies such as the Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Department of Education and the state university system Board of Governors “are expected to strain state and local law enforcement resources.”
The order makes available money from what is known as the state’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund.
Source : CBS