US Preparing Plan for Mass Evacuation of Americans From Middle East, Reports Say
© AP Photo / Ramon EspinosaU.S. flag flies at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, March 18, 2019 days after the U.S. State Department announced it was eliminating a five-year tourist visa for Cubans.
© AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - On October 7, Hamas launched a surprise large-scale rocket attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip and breached the border, killing and seizing people in neighboring Israeli communities. Israel launched retaliatory strikes. The escalation of the conflict has resulted in thousands of people killed and injured on both sides.
The United States is preparing a plan for the mass evacuation of its citizens from the Middle East, mainly from Israel and Lebanon, in the event of a further escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, media reported on Tuesday, citing US officials.
Four US officials familiar with the matter told the newspaper that Washington wants to be ready for a situation when hundreds of thousands of US citizens will need to be taken out of the Middle East, should the conflict in Israel spill over to neighboring areas.
Lebanon and Israel are the main concern of the White House, since approximately 86,000 and 600,000 US nationals are there at the moment, according to the report.
"This has become a real issue… The administration is very, very, very worried that this thing is going to get out of hand," one source said.
The sources added that the evacuation plans are being developed for a worst-case scenario, as "it would be irresponsible not to have plans for all cases."
The news outlet also consulted some academics and former officials, who said that this evacuation could become the most complex operation in recent times, and would require the involvement of the US Air Force and Navy.
"With 600,000 Americans in Israel and threats to other Americans across the region, it’s hard to think of an evacuation that might compare to this in scale, scope and complexity," Suzanne Maloney, the director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, was quoted as saying.