Members of Congress called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to do everything possible to evacuate Americans out of Israel, including chartering flights as airlines have canceled most flights out of Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.
In a letter addressed to Blinken and signed by 146 members of Congress, the representatives expressed “grave concern” for the “wellbeing and safety” of Americans who are in Israel and seeking to return to the U.S. as soon as possible.
“Given the rapidly escalating situation as Israel launches a counteroffensive, it is imperative that you use all tools at your disposal to return all U.S. nationals in Israel home who wish to do so,” the letter reads.
On Saturday, Hamas launched the biggest attack in Israel in over 50 years, killing nearly 1,600 people and wounding thousands more with a barrage of rockets.
Hamas-led militants poured over the Israel-Gaza border as residents slept, then dragged people into the streets, took hostages, and beheaded and killed others.
“To date, thousands of lives — including 11 Americans — have been lost due to Hamas’ indiscriminate and brutal assault since Saturday,” the letter read. “Hamas’ heinous actions also include taking over 150 Israeli hostages, which our offices have received reports that Americans are among those taken hostage in Gaz, including New Yorkers.”
After the attacks, several U.S. airlines suspended flight operations to Israel and canceled flights from Israel’s airports, making it near impossible for Americans in the country to flee back home.
Congressional members acknowledged the airlines’ decisions to cancel flights in and out of Tel Aviv and the region.
“As the number of casualties continue to rise, our constituents who remain in Israel fear for their lives,” the letter to Blinken reads. “We ask that you consider charter flights and military options for evacuation, simultaneously. At this harrowing moment in Israel’s history, it is more important than ever that every American who is looking to return home has the opportunity to do so.”
The letter was sent to Blinken the same day it was announced the Secretary of State would travel to Israel on Wednesday to show support and solidarity from the U.S.