OAN’s Stephanie Stahl
5:53 PM – Monday, October 16, 2023
United States citizens desperately seeking refuge from the war in Israel were evacuated by the Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship.
The U.S. Embassy in Israel posted the announcement of the evacuation plan on its website last Sunday, extending an opportunity for the 2,500 Americans and their immediate family members still residing in Israel to depart via sea.
Those with valid travel documents were given the chance to leave Haifa and be transported to nearby Cyprus. However, it is still unclear exactly how many Americans were able to board the ship.
This decision comes as the Israeli military prepares for an “all-out” ground assault on Gaza in response to last week’s deadly attacks by Hamas, resulting in the loss of at least 1,400 lives, including over 30 Americans.
The numbers continue to rise.
Additionally, at least 2,750 Palestinians have been killed and others wounded in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7th, the enclave’s health ministry said on Monday.
With commercial airlines largely ceasing operations to Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport, the Royal Caribbean cruise line came to the rescue.
Prior to the Israel-Hamas war, the ship was set this week to make a five-day round trip cruise to Cyprus and the Greek Isles, based out of Haifa.
The ship provided an escape route for U.S. citizens, which included women, infants, and young children. Dozens of U.S. citizens and their spouses were reportedly in line to get on Rhapsody of the Seas in Haifa on Monday morning.
The journey was expected to take about 10 to 12 hours, with food provided and WiFi available to use during the journey.
From Cyprus, passengers will be able travel by air to other parts of Europe and the world.
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