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U.S. Prepares to Evacuate Americans from Lebanon Over Growing Concerns of Israeli Airstrikes and Ground Offensive in Coming Weeks

Smoke billows during an Israeli bombardment of the village of Khiam, in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel, June 19, 2024. - Photo by RABIH DAHER : AFP via Getty
Israeli bombardment of the village of Khiam, in southern Lebanon, June 19, 2024

The United States is making plans to evacuate American citizens from Lebanon if the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah worsens. This move comes as U.S. officials grow increasingly worried that Israel might launch airstrikes and possibly a ground offensive in Lebanon in the coming weeks.

The Pentagon is positioning U.S. military assets closer to both Israel and Lebanon. This strategy is intended to facilitate a swift evacuation of Americans if the situation escalates. Three U.S. defense officials and a former official, all familiar with the plans, confirmed these preparations.

Israel's many conflicts could soon crack its Iron Dome
Israel's many conflicts could soon crack its Iron Dome

Despite the Biden administration's efforts to urge caution, Israeli leaders remain determined to address the threat posed by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel aims to create a 10-mile buffer zone north of its border, moving Hezbollah further away. Israel says its goal is to restore peace to northern Israel, allowing the 60,000 Israelis displaced by Hezbollah's rocket fire over the past eight months to return home.

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, known for its capability to assist civilians in dangerous environments, is among the U.S. forces on standby. Additionally, the U.S. is in talks with close allies to coordinate potential evacuations and coalition military operations if needed.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has been in Washington, D.C., this week for meetings with top Biden administration officials. He emphasized that while Israel does not seek war, it is prepared for any scenario. Gallant warned that Israel could inflict severe damage on Lebanon if a conflict arises.

The border area between Israel and Lebanon has seen daily exchanges of fire since the conflict in Gaza began on October 7. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently mentioned that Israel is preparing for a significant operation on the Lebanese border, raising fears of a broader conflict.

In Beirut, the U.S. Embassy has advised Americans to reconsider travel to Lebanon due to the volatile security situation. An estimated 86,000 Americans currently reside in Lebanon. In 2006, the U.S. evacuated 15,000 people during a previous conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Canada is also preparing for the possible evacuation of about 20,000 Canadians from Lebanon. Canadian armed forces are coordinating with allies to monitor the situation and prepare for potential threats.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has cautioned that another war with Hezbollah could have severe consequences for the Middle East, urging all parties to seek a diplomatic solution. While intensive discussions are ongoing, no side appears to be seeking a major escalation at this time.

Palestinians in Lebanon ready to fight if Israel starts war with Hezbollah
Palestinians in Lebanon ready to fight if Israel starts war with Hezbollah

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Lebanon are bracing for the possibility of being targeted if the conflict with Hezbollah escalates. Many express readiness to defend themselves if necessary. Hezbollah, which has a significant arsenal of rockets and missiles, has stated that it will cease its attacks on Israel if Israel stops its assault on Gaza.


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