TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Alex Sauickie is criticizing Gov. Phil Murphy and President Joseph Biden for their lack of action in getting New Jersey residents to safety after a terrorist attack in Israel left 1,400 dead and 199 taken hostage, including many Americans. Israel formally declared war on Iran-backed Hamas Oct. 8.
More than 250 New Jersey shore residents among 20,000 U.S. citizens find themselves stranded in Israel after terrorist organization Hamas’ coordinated, sneak attacks Oct. 7. With most major airlines suspending flights in and out of the country through at least the end of October, many countries have resorted to military airlifts or chartered flights to rescue citizens.
Meanwhile, Murphy went ahead with his trade trip to Japan and South Korea Oct. 13, but not before issuing several statements condemning Hamas’ terrorist acts. The Biden administration has said there are no formal plans for emergency evacuations; U.S. citizens should look into commercial flights and ground options to leave Israel. Some American nationals were taken by boat from Haifa, Israel to Cyprus, Greece Oct. 16. They were made to sign promissory notes to repay the U.S. government for the trip, and must still secure their own flights home. Those who fail to pay within a year will be referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution.
“We spend more on our military than the next nine nations combined, and we can’t muster up any aircraft to safely remove our citizens from a warzone?” Sauickie (R-Ocean) asked. “We’re spending billions across the country to house illegal immigrants who have crossed Biden’s open border, but we’re making our own citizens pay for a boat ride, and still telling them, ‘Good luck getting home.’ These Democrats have failed to lead, and are leaving New Jerseyans and other Americans in danger.”
The assemblyman pointed to Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, who personally greeted the 270 Americans – not just Floridians – who arrived in Tampa Sunday. The governor worked with the nonprofit Project Dynamo that rescues Americans and allies free of charge.
“I have not only heard of no such plans taking place for our New Jersey residents, but have had constituents tell me they are getting nowhere contacting the State Department to check in on friends and relatives and secure safe passage home,” Sauickie added.
The attack came at the conclusion of Sukkot, or Feast of Booths, one of Judaism’s three pilgrimage festivals. Jews from around the world travel to the Holy Land to visit family as well as religiously significant locations, including Jerusalem’s temple mount. Likely thousands of visitors came from New Jersey, which boasts the nation’s third-largest Jewish population. Many of those call Ocean County home.
“Words without action are meaningless. I’m disturbed that Governor Murphy and President Biden aren’t acting more quickly to get our residents to safety,” Sauickie said. “We used to be the world leader, but under these Democrat administrations, we have turned into the world laggard.”