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15 June, 2024
 
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Greece and Cyprus key to evacuation plans for US citizens in Israel

International cooperation in evacuating citizens from Israel and Lebanon

Newsroom

By Yiannis Souliotis

Key to the emergency plans devised by the United States and other Western nations for evacuating their citizens from Israel are Greece and Cyprus. Information from highly reliable sources, revealed to "K" within the past 24 hours, indicates that the U.S. has already been informed about the "evacuation corridors" set to traverse Cypriot and Greek territory, with relevant preparations underway.

The plan's objective is to evacuate approximately 600,000 U.S. citizens presently in Israel and another 89,000 residing in Lebanon, should the conflict escalate further. The Washington Post recently reported on this, citing four U.S. officials.

According to "K's" information, the Greek contribution to the American evacuation plan is currently under discussion in a closed circle of individuals, with officials from the National Intelligence Service playing a crucial coordinating role.

A Greek official, speaking with "K," confirmed that Greece and Cyprus have been requested to provide assistance due to their proximity to the conflict zone and their close cooperation with the U.S. and Israel on defense and security matters. However, the extent of Greek involvement remains undisclosed. The official also emphasized that the planning primarily involves Cyprus, with Greece playing a secondary role.

A government source disclosed that the United States has requested refueling support for numerous American aircraft stationed at military airports in Greece. By November 10, seven supply ships are expected to arrive in Crete, with the deployment of 800 personnel from the U.S. Air Force Support Unit (Logistic Readiness Squadron), specializing in evacuation operations, set to be completed in Greece within the next few days.

A senior military source clarified that the presence of U.S. armed forces in Greece is governed by bilateral agreements and is not part of a contingency plan.

Similar operations are underway in Cyprus, which is also positioned as a primary transit point for the U.S. in the event of widespread conflict. According to "K," Special Forces from the USA, Germany, and the Netherlands have been stationed on the island for approximately 24 hours, tasked with evacuating citizens from the conflict zone. Initial transfers of citizens from Israel and Lebanon to Cyprus have already been recorded.

Sources from Cyprus have reported that Greek-owned passenger ships were employed for evacuations in some cases, while other sources indicate that American citizens flew to Cyprus and then boarded leased ships bound for Greece.

Simultaneously, international shipping sources are receiving information about plans to lease cruise ships from the U.S., which will be responsible for mass evacuations from the conflict zone as part of the emergency plan. The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) is in discussions with shipowners regarding the leasing of cruise ships. Some reports suggest that the same operator has acquired tankers transporting processed oil to meet increased demand in the Southeastern Mediterranean, though further details remain undisclosed, as confirmed by Greek government officials.

In case of a mass evacuation of civilians from the conflict zone, there will be dedicated overpass flights from Athens airport, similar to those already operating to the U.S. and Canada. Well-informed sources indicate that air traffic from Athens to North America has recently returned to normal. During the initial wave of Israeli citizens traveling to the United States, the U.S. Embassy in Athens positioned its staff in the "Eleftherios Venizelos" extra-Schengen zone to assist those heading to the United States.

Furthermore, various countries, including the UK, are making arrangements to repatriate their citizens and provide assistance to Israeli citizens who wish to travel there. The UK, for instance, has requested offers from the Ferry Market for large-capacity ships to make at least three trips from Beirut to Limassol.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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Cyprus  |  Israel  |  US  |  Gaza

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