U.S. State Department Extends Charter Flights for Americans Leaving Israel Amid Conflict

The U.S. State Department has announced that it will extend its provision of government-funded charter flights from Tel Aviv to Europe until at least Sunday, assisting Americans in exiting Israel. Since Friday, approximately 1,500 U.S. citizens and their families have left Israel via these charter flights to Athens and other transportation methods, with over 5,000 seats offered.


Despite the flights often departing at half capacity or less, the State Department had initially only committed to providing these charter flights until Thursday. The extension comes in the wake of an attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on southern Israel on October 7, which resulted in 1,300 fatalities and prompted a retaliatory bombing campaign by Israel on the Gaza Strip.

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On Monday, a U.S.-chartered Royal Caribbean ship departed Haifa for Cyprus, carrying 150 Americans and their immediate families among its 2,200 available spaces. From Cyprus, Americans were offered onward transportation to Vienna. U.S. airlines have also increased flights to Athens and upscaled aircraft to accommodate returning Americans.


In addition to those on charter flights, over 3,000 U.S. citizens have reported to the State Department that they have successfully exited Israel and the West Bank through various means. A collaboration between the state of Florida and a nonprofit group resulted in an additional 270 Americans returning from Israel via a chartered flight. Direct flights to Israel have been temporarily suspended by United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines. However, over 30 U.S. lawmakers have urged the CEOs of these airlines to resume flights to Tel Aviv as soon as feasible. Last week, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma informed airlines that the U.S. government had received approximately 17,000 inquiries regarding travel assistance for leaving Israel.

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