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Gov. Ron DeSantis issues order to help evacuate Floridians from Israel as conflict rages

'We will not leave our residents behind,' DeSantis writes
Posted at 8:41 PM, Oct 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-12 20:41:56-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As the war in Israel continues for another bloody and brutal day, back in Florida the governor issued an executive order to evacuate the state's residents from the conflict zone.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' press team said in a release that Floridians were among the estimated 20,000 Americans in Israel, unable to return home as violence continues in the foreign nation. The order, signed Thursday afternoon, would tap the state's Division of Emergency Management to assist.

"This Executive Order allows the State of Florida to carry out logistical, rescue and evacuation operations to keep its residents safe," read a statement from DeSantis Communications Director Jason Mahon. "Specifically, this order enables the Florida Division of Emergency Management to bring Floridians home and transport necessary supplies to Israel."

In a statement on social media, DeSantis offered a further statement in support of Israel and the forthcoming rescue effort.

"We will not leave our residents behind," read the post. "To the many Floridians who are stuck in Israel, trying to get home — help is on the way."

Read the full executive order below:

The governor's order comes on top of efforts by the federal government to charter flights for U.S. citizens looking to leave Israel. That's as the nation experiences a shortage of options from commercial airlines. The flights, according to President Joe Biden's administration, were set to begin as soon as Friday.

The dueling actions have led critics to condemn the governor for not staying in his lane. State Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, told us Thursday evening the effort was a source of frustration despite her support of Israel.

"That is not his role as the governor, and we need to let the federal government handle flights," Polsky said. "What I would like to see him doing is calling the federal government and saying, 'How can we help? Do you need some of our planes? What can we do instead of it becoming a competition?'"

Funds to pay for the actions are to be pulled from Florida's Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund. The Legislature created the $500 million pot of cash in 2022 with the goal of having dollars ready to quickly supplement disaster relief efforts.

The governor's order takes effect immediately and is set to expire in 60 days unless extended.