Foreign nationals and dual citizens have scrambled to find ways to get out of Israel after Hamas’ gruesome attack on October 7 pushed the country into war. But leaving the country has proven to be an emotional and arduous task, with complications that include soaring ticket prices, canceled flights, overwhelmed embassies and misinformation about further attacks. Some leaving the country found themselves stuck at Ben Gurion International Airport, as flights were almost immediately suspended after the attacks. Others who were fortunate to board a flight sometimes found themselves accepting temporary stopovers in foreign lands where they relied on the kindness of strangers for accommodations. The first concern for those looking to leave Israel was when departing flights would resume, followed by the frustrations of actually booking the flight. “Every time you clicked the flight shown on the website it would refresh ‘unavailable,’ or you even get as far as paying and it says, ‘sorry, flight does not exist,’” Jillian, a 25-year-old dual US-Israeli citizen from Los Angeles who is now based in Tel Aviv, told CNN. (Jillian declined to provide her full name out of fear of antisemitic retaliation.) With many major international airlines having canceled flights to and from Israel, those looking to leave were told to trust only Israeli air carriers, but seats quickly filled up until near the end of the month. Anyone hoping to get out was left with few options other than waiting on the phone for hours with Israeli airline customer service, said Jillian. “Meanwhile, all of our families overseas put immense pressure on us to just get out by all means necessary and take whichever flight we can to any country we can in the world,” said Jillian. Jillian is also a dog owner and had to scramble to make sense of global pet regulations. Documents to travel with pets were not being processed to any country but the United States, she told CNN, but flight prices were skyrocketing into the thousands. One dual UK-Israeli citizen living in Tel Aviv recounted dealing with a canceled flight and chaos at the airport before being turned away at the gate for not having a seat while others pushed on. “As we were boarding — because it was so manic — 10 or so people just went past the crew member,” they told CNN. “Someone actually said, ‘excuse me, do you know that 10 people have actually walked past you without scanning their boarding pass?’” After facing multiple canceled flights and few options, some reported having to buy one-way business class seats to Los Angeles, New York or London for up to $2,600. Many had given up on flights to their home countries and instead were willing to accept flights anywhere out of Israel. “Getting flights was absolutely impossible,” Emma Gottlieb, a 25-year-old dual US-Israeli citizen from Los Angeles who now lives in Tel Aviv, told CNN. After looking online for hours, refreshing every 5-10 minutes, Gottlieb was unable to find flights to “any city in Europe, any city in America” leaving before the following week until she found a British Airways round-trip ticket to London. “There was nothing else. My family was panicking, and I was slightly panicking,” said Gottlieb, who did not check a bag due to fears a siren would go off while waiting at Ben Gurion. “There were rumors that the airport was closing. No one really knew what was going to happen.” Since Gottlieb’s flight to London on British Airways, the carrier has halted all flights to and from Israel amid safety concerns. Others looking to leave Israel detailed hearing misinformation about rocket strikes destroying the airport. Rachel Hammer, a 35-year-old former New Mexico resident who became a citizen of Israel in 2012, said three different people had told her the same false report that the airport had been bombed. Hammer proceeded to the airport and was able to catch a flight to Cyprus but still needed accommodations. She posted to a large Facebook group of women living in Tel Aviv and through one woman in the group was able to connect to a senior Greek Orthodox couple in a small village. “Their whole family has been very, very welcoming and created a safe place for me to stay and said, ‘however long you need to be here, it’s okay,’” Hammer told CNN. “It feels like in the Holocaust when you hear stories of how non-Jews also protected the Jews.” Turning to embassies Other foreign nationals looking to leave on short notice are turning to their embassies, joining long waiting lists and spending hours at the airport to board military flights out of the country. One 26-year-old Polish tourist living in Denmark told CNN that they were in contact with both the Danish and Polish embassies after multiple flight rebookings and cancellations in Israel. The Polish tourist, who requested to remain anonymous, struggled to reach the Polish embassy and was turned away by Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs before finding a Polish evacuation group on WhatsApp that helped them figure out their next steps. While at the airport last week to sign up for the flight list, the airport staff told the tourist to go home and wait for a call, which came the following morning while in transit to the airport. “My plan was to just wait and hope for the best, really, because there’s no other options and I wanted to go back to my normal life,” the tourist told CNN. The tourist, who finally got on a military flight to Greece that was scheduled to leave Wednesday at 9 pm, waited at Israel’s lone international airport until 4:30 am due to delays. “Being on the military flight is nothing like being on a commercial flight … even if you’re an adult. It’s a scary experience. It’s loud, it’s anxiety provoking,” the tourist said. As countries begin to evacuate their citizens, embassy staff from around the world are dealing with desperate travelers and long lines at the airport. “There’s a lot of military officials, people in military outfits walking around from all different countries. I saw German, Dutch, Brazilian … men in uniform,” Milo Ferron, a 28-year-old from the Netherlands now living in Tel Aviv, told CNN while at Ben Gurion waiting for an embassy evacuation flight after making the “complex and difficult” decision to leave. “It’s a huge mess. The embassy doesn’t really have that many resources. Those people who are from the embassy that are at the airport, they’re super tired, and they’re really, really trying their best,” the Polish tourist told CNN. US government efforts The Biden administration began chartering flights last week from Israel to destinations in Europe. Upon arriving in Europe — on Israeli, Turkish and other regional airlines — travelers are then ferried home by US-based or foreign carriers. Due to safety concerns, major US-based airlines — United, American and Delta airlines — all ceased operations to and from Ben Gurion. The US government charters are expected to open new routes for those fleeing the ongoing violence with an unknown number of flights and available seats. “We know there’s a demand signal out there,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday, “and we’re going to try the best we can to meet it.” The US government also offered a boat for Americans and their immediate family members leaving Monday from the northern Israeli city of Haifa for Cyprus, with the limited boarding offered on a first-come, first-served basis. The boat passengers are responsible for their own accommodations and travel after docking in Cyprus. The state of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management is additionally arranging for chartered flights home for Floridians stuck in Israel after Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order last week. And as people struggle to get out of Israel, many expressed feelings of emotional uncertainty and guilt about leaving behind a place that many dual citizens and long-time residents call home. “It just feels like a lot is going on and maybe I could do things there that could help, and I won’t be able to do those same things from far away,” said Hammer. “I want to stay close to Israel because if things get better, I want to be there.” Jillian said it is hard to make the choice to leave. “There is some feeling of safety in the homes we’ve made for ourselves here, amongst the friends that are now our families in one of the darkest times,” she said.