US planning for mass evacuation of citizens if war expands

There are hundreds of thousands of Americans who would be caught in a Middle East conflagration.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The United States has begun planning for a mass evacuation of its citizens from the Middle East just in case the Hamas-Israel war spreads to other countries, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The paper’s sources, who are acquainted with the relevant discussions, said that the two places officials are most worried about are Israel and Lebanon.

According to the State Department, there are some 600,000 American citizens in Israel and 86,000 in Lebanon.

Hezbollah’s political wing is part of Lebanon’s ruling coalition, and it has threatened that if the IDF invades the Gaza Strip, as Israel has vowed to do to completely destroy Hamas, it will attack from the north in force.

Jerusalem has in turn warned Beirut that it would hold the government responsible in such a case and would act decisively throughout Lebanon if a true second front develops.

The Iran-backed terrorist organization gets its marching orders from Tehran, however, and it has already been testing Israel with infiltrations and dozens of short rocket attacks almost since what it calls its “brotherly” Hamas fighters invaded Israel October 7 and murdered 1,400 men, women, children and babies.

Although the sources all said that a mass evacuation is the worst-case scenario that is not considered likely, a serious flare-up of Israel’s northern border “has become a real issue,” one official said. “The administration is very, very, very worried that this thing is going to get out of hand.”

It would be “irresponsible not to have a plan for everything,” said one of the sources.

There are already two American aircraft carrier groups in the Mediterranean, and several battle ships are either in the Red Sea or on their way. These, as well as military aircraft, could be used to evacuate U.S. citizens, though it would be an admittedly complex task.

The naval resources were sent as a stark warning to Iran to stay out of the upcoming battles, as it has threatened to do if Israel sends its troops into Gaza.

Despite those threats, it is not considered likely that the Islamic Republic would directly attack Israel. It controls many proxy groups that could do it for their masters instead, in addition to Hezbollah.

Besides Hamas itself being largely funded, trained and equipped by Iran, reports have surfaced of pro-Iranian fighters making their way to Lebanon, and several days ago an American ship in the Red Sea intercepted three missiles launched by the Houthis in Yemen at Israel.

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Iranian Quds Force commander Ismail Qaani is known to have been making a round of visits in the last two weeks  to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to talk to the terror proxies his division is responsible for.

There are threats to Americans in other countries as well, with Palestinian supporters angered by President Joe Biden’s defense of Israel’s right to destroy Hamas, and large, hate-filled demonstrations taking place in both the Middle East and the West.

The State Department issued an advisory last week to all U.S. citizens worldwide “to exercise increased caution” because of “increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, [and] demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests.”