U.S. citizens have been desperately trying to get flights to escape Israel, only to find they are canceled.
Some have now begun evacuating by sea as the war between Israel and Hamas escalates.
“We’re leaving because ah it’s unsafe here, we’ve had rockets a few times in my city in Rosh Haayin,” said Aydela, an American woman living in Israel. “And I have two kids and it’s very scary to wake them up in the middle of the night, running to the shelter room.”
Some U.S. citizens have escaped the war zone with the help of a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship, called “Rhapsody of the Seas.”
“Our flights were all canceled we found out, within a day or two we realized we didn’t have a flight,” Debby Smith, a U.S. tourist from Arizona. So we were waiting to see what would happen. And we felt pretty safe where we were.”
Commercial airlines left grounded amid the ongoing war.
“We are so thankful to be home, so thankful,” Ron Neumann, another evacuee.
Neumann and his wife Linda, expressed how thankful they are for a chartered plane led by Project Dynamo, that pulled them from Israel and landed in Tampa on Sunday.
“To be there is totally different than watching it,” said Linda. “People think it is just a movie, no it is real.”
The group rescued dozens of children and pets with help from the state of Florida.
“This was a three-ring circus for sure,” Bryan Stern, founder and CEO of Project Dynamo. “We had 270 people dispersed in over a dozen different areas of Israel and we had to move them safely and securely.”
For some, the only way out was by water.
The bloodshed caused a U.S. tourist from California to try and leave, but her heart she said, remained broken for those who couldn’t escape.
“We would love to come back and finish what we didn’t get to see,” Sandra Diez. “And I feel so much for the people. Excuse me… it makes me tear up. So much they’re going through, but we’re with them. We pray for them every day.”
Some Israeli-Americans said they feel they should stay in Israel.
“I don’t agree with this trip,” said Emuna, a passenger. “I came along because I want to be with my family, but I think we should stay in Israel with our nation and with our family and I think we have to show support. And if everybody picked up and left, not everybody would come back.”
The people on the cruise will be dropped off in Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean, about 150 miles away from Israel.
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