Nearly 1,000 U.S. citizens, family have departed Israel with government help

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Nearly 1,000 U.S. citizens and family members have departed Israel on State Department-sponsored charter flights and other transport options since Friday for Europe, a department spokesperson told Reuters on Monday.

The State Department said it had offered more than 4,000 seats on U.S. government-chartered transport by air and sea to U.S. citizens and immediate family but said the flights and other departure options have generally departed at half capacity or less.

The State Department said the U.S. government-facilitated flights to Athens are scheduled to continue from Tel Aviv through at least Thursday.

U.S. airlines have added flights to Athens and boosted the size of planes to accommodate Americans flying from Israel seeking to return home after fighters from Hamas burst across the barrier to Israel on Oct. 7, gunning down 1,300 Israelis, mainly civilians.

The State Department on Monday offered departure for American citizens from Haifa aboard a ship to Cyprus.

The State Department said over 3,000 U.S. citizens have also told the department they have successfully departed Israel and the West Bank in a variety of ways.

The state of Florida and a non-profit group partnered to charter a flight and helped more 270 Americans return from Israel, Governor Ron DeSantis said Monday, adding additional flights are planned this week.

The State Department added it will “continue to monitor demand from U.S. citizens for assistance in departing Israel on a real-time basis.”

United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines all temporarily halted direct flights to Israel.

More than 30 U.S. lawmakers on Friday wrote the three airline CEOs urging them to resume flights to Tel Aviv “as quickly as possible.”

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma told airlines last week the U.S. government had received roughly 17,000 inquiries about travel assistance leaving Israel.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sandra Maler and Stephen Coates)