Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.), a U.S. Army combat veteran, has gone to Israel to aid with the evacuation of stranded American citizens after Hamas terrorists launched attacks on its territory.
A picture shared by former Rep. Mayra Flores on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, shows the Iraq veteran with a group of Americans he helped escape Israel by bus.
“My friend … is currently on the ground in Israel, helping to evacuate American citizens who are trapped,” Ms. Flores wrote. “May God keep them safe as they continue their rescue efforts!”
“Since the Biden admin has failed to do their job once again, I’ve stepped in to rescue Americans stranded in war-torn Israel,” the Florida Republican said in a post on X.
The GOP lawmaker noted that he couldn’t get into the specifics of the operation because of safety reasons.
In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Mr. Mills said that he has already helped 32 Americans to escape the country, adding that he’s hoping to make another trip on Thursday.
By Friday, the congressman had helped a total of 77 Americans out of Israel, and was on his way back to Capitol Hill.
It isn’t the first time Mr. Mills, who served in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division, has embarked on such a trip. He also helped to evacuate American families and Afghan refugees in Afghanistan amid the chaotic U.S. troop withdrawal in August 2021.
“Unfortunately, this isn’t my first time doing this because my team and I actually had conducted the very first successful overland rescue out of Afghanistan … that rescued a mother and three children from Amarillo, Texas,” Mr. Mills told the network.
“Right now, our big tactic is to try and look at consolidation points,” he added. “My team and I run the routes prematurely, so we can try and just make sure we can run it and see if there’s any safety issues and look at the best evac areas. Doing predominantly just ground evacs and getting to bordering countries like Jordan to ensure that we can get them back to America.”
Mr. Mills’s trip to Israel comes as a bipartisan group of 146 members of Congress recently called on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to use all available resources, including chartering flights, to evacuate Americans seeking to leave Israel amid the ongoing war.
Numerous airlines have already halted flights to and from Israel due to the conflict, which saw days of rocket fire and missile barrages between the Hamas terrorist group and the Israeli military, some of which have hit Ben-Gurion International Airport.
US in Talks to Evacuate Americans
National Security Council coordinator John Kirby, meanwhile, said at a White House press briefing on Oct. 11 that they’re in “active conversations” about how to bring Americans, many of whom are dual citizens, back home safely. However, he fell short of providing a plan or specifics of what has been decided upon.
“The State Department is an [sic] active touch with American citizens in Israel,” he said in a transcript of the briefing. “And we want to make sure—right now, there are still commercial carriers—not all, some—flying in and out of Ben Gurion every day. There are still now viable ground routes. If you wanted to leave safely out of Israel, that is also an option to you.”
“But neither of those options may necessarily be feasible or affordable to certain Americans,” he added. “And so, we are exploring actively a range of other options to assist if Americans want to leave. I’m just not at liberty now to go into more detail about that.”
The number of American citizens or dual nationals currently living in Israel remains unconfirmed by the U.S. Department of State, which confirmed Thursday that 25 U.S. citizens have died in the Israel-Palestinian war and 17 remain unaccounted for, some of whom are feared to be taken as hostages by Hamas terrorists.
When Mr. Mills was asked how many American citizens he believes currently remain in Israel, he said there was a high possibility that there are “large swaths of Americans across the entire country.”
“We were getting a ton of requests from Americans who were stranded, who had tried to reach out to the State Department, who were getting nowhere, had flights canceled, no more hotel room availability,” he explained.
The congressman also said that he’s concerned evacuating efforts like the one he’s currently assisting with could turn into a redux of the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal.
“The minute that you start seeing a potential counteroffensive or you start seeing General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah from Hezbollah kick in, or you see other proxy militia groups that are headed by people like Hadi al-Amiri [of the political-paramilitary Hadr group] or Qais Khazali [of Iran-backed paramilitary group Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq] out of Iraq and Syria, that could definitely put a damper on things, especially if they start taking any type of indirect fire onto that runway,” Mr. Mills said.
“I hope that we don’t see a repeat of what happened in 2021 in Afghanistan, where Americans were left behind and abandoned by this administration,” he added.
This article has been updated with further details.