Thousands of Americans boarded a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on Monday in an attempt to aid in the evacuation of Israel, would take then take them to neighboring Cyprus. In Cyprus, American evacuees will be able to board commercial flights to take them the rest of the way home. The race to evacuate comes after Israeli military said they are preparing for an all-out ground assault on Gaza in retaliation for last week’s deadly attacks by Hamas that killed at least 1,400 people, including at least 29 Americans.
The US Embassy in Israel announced the evacuation plan, offering the 2,500 Americans and their immediate family members in Israel the opportunity to leave by sea. The cruise ship line Royal Caribbean offered aid in helping with evacuation efforts, after commercial airlines mostly stopped flying into Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Amid the escalating hostilities in the region, thousands of Americans, including infants and young children, headed to the port city of Haifa hoping to board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas. The passage from Haifa to Limassol Port in Cyprus was expected to take between 10 and 12 hours, with food and internet service available to passengers on board. According to embassy officials, boarding got underway at 8 a.m. local time and was available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The State Department also said that in addition to the ship, chartered flights from Israel will be available for American citizens through Tuesday.
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