A plane carrying almost 300 American evacuees – mostly Floridians – on Sunday was the first such flight to rescue U.S. citizens and land them in their home country. Its passengers deplaned in the Florida cities of Tampa and Orlando.
Project Dynamo, a coalition of veterans and civilians committed to the evacuation of Americans, assisted in the effort. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, organized the flight.
In a security alert posted to its website Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Israel said the government "is facilitating transportation to leave Israel by air or sea. Chartered transportation will be to nearby safe locations, not back to the United States." Americans choosing the U.S. travel plan also must foot the bill.
Carly Atchison, a spokesperson for the DeSantis campaign, explained on American Family Radio Tuesday that that arrangement made no sense to the Florida governor.
"We had a State Department that can't organize flights for Americans. They're going to charge Americans who are stranded in a war zone," she summarized. "Meanwhile, we're financing – at taxpayers' expense – illegal aliens coming over our southern border, flying them across the country, [and] putting them in ICE hotels … but we can't help our own people who are stranded in a war zone.
"That was not going to work for Governor DeSantis," Atchison stated bluntly.
Need to be rescued? Sign on this line
In prepared comments, the State Department said it has been U.S. policy for "at least 79 years" to require Americans who wish to be evacuated from overseas to sign a promissory note. This time it was no different. The Embassy said citizens would be "asked to sign an agreement to repay the U.S. government prior to departure."
Upon arrival at the safe location, travelers – again, under the State Department's policy – are responsible for their lodging and travel back to the U.S. Atchison said the Project Dynamo flight over the weekend exemplifies the governor's leadership style.
"He's not going to wait around and listen to excuses. He's going to get things done," Atchison told AFR show host Jenna Ellis. "This is just another example of, in a time of crisis, who stands out the most."
The Florida Division of Emergency Management is expected to lead additional flights to take supplies and bring Floridians back home, The Hill reported. As Atchison pointed out, Florida is familiar with emergency situations as it relates to hurricanes.
"Florida runs budget surpluses – and when you have a government that works like that, you are able to quickly mobilize emergency responses," she explained. "That's what good governance looks like, right? Smaller government, cutting taxes, delivering results for the people – and in a crisis, going into crisis response. And we've seen this time and time again from Ron DeSantis."
The rescue flight hasn't been DeSantis' only entry into the Israel-Hamas discussion. He has argued against the U.S. accepting Gaza refugees fleeing the violence, citing antisemitism.
"I don't know what [President] Biden's going to do, but we cannot accept people from Gaza into this country as refugees. I am not going to do that," DeSantis, a Navy veteran, said at a campaign stop in Iowa. "If you look at how they behave, not all of them are Hamas; but they are all anti-Semitic. None of them believe in Israel's right to exist."
Former President Donald Trump, far and away the leader in GOP primary polling, has also said he would ban Gaza refugees.
DeSantis, according to Atchison, is "drawing a line in the sand" with the rest of the field that no Gaza refugees should be allowed into the United States. "You saw Donald Trump follow suit, and others in the field get behind him. That's just who he is: He's going to lead – he's going to set the tone."
Terrorism expert and national security analyst Brigitte Gabriel is in the same camp. "Rest assured that the Left – especially the ultra-Left [in Congress] – are pushing right now to bring these Palestinians [to the U.S.]," she told American Family News. "We're going to have to battle in Congress to stop them.
"Action on our part is the only thing that's going to stop these radicals from continuing to destroy our country," says the chair of ACT for America.
And for Palestinian sympathizers already in the country?
Like DeSantis and Trump, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has also shown an eagerness to hold Palestinians and other foreign nationals already in the U.S. accountable for their actions.
Cotton sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday calling on the department to begin deportation of those who have expressed support for Hamas' terrorist attacks against Israel – including those individuals at colleges and universities.
"I urge you to immediately deport any foreign national – including and especially any alien on a student visa – who has expressed support for Hamas and its murderous attacks on Israel. These fifth-columnists have no place in the United States," Cotton wrote.