Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced a plan to rescue a number of Floridians stuck in Israel since the start of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The move came after the State Department was criticized by conservatives for not acting more briskly.
The governor took the action through an executive order. He wrote on social media that his order authorized “rescue operations in Israel to bring Floridians home and transport supplies to our allies.”
“We will not leave our residents behind. To the many Floridians who are stuck in Israel, trying to get home — help is on the way,” he wrote.
DeSantis criticized what he called a lack of “timely assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Israel,” as well as a lack of “follow-up after enrolling in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.”
DeSantis’ executive order states that “unlike the governments of other countries, the Biden Administration has failed to launch any form of rescue or evacuation operations for Americans, including Floridians, stranded in the region, and has failed to provide information requested by the State of Florida about any plans for such operations.”
It also cites the right of Israel “invoking its right of self-defense” to combat Hamas.
The 2024 candidate had strongly criticized the Hamas attacks. During a campaign event, he said “Don’t tell me that this is Israel’s fault. It is not.”
“We just have to remain strong as Americans, that they have to be able to defend themselves,” DeSantis said. “They are not the problem here and we got to have a mortal blow to Sunni jihadists.”
Ron DeSantis denounces Hamas: "Don't tell me that this is Israel's fault. It is not."
"We just have to remain strong as Americans, that they have to be able to defend themselves. They are not the problem here and we got to have a mortal blow to Sunni jihadists." pic.twitter.com/zXzBhjuvaS
— Never Back Down (@NvrBackDown24) October 14, 2023
Separately, the governor said that the United States should not accept refugees from Gaza.
“I will say, and I don’t know what Biden’s going to do, but we cannot accept people from Gaza into this country as refugees,” he said. “I am not going to do that.”
DeSantis’ comments also came as a number of Republicans in Congress proposed not allowing such refugees from entering the country.