The Biden administration is preparing for the possibility that hundreds of thousands of American citizens will require evacuation from the Middle East if the bloodshed in Gaza cannot be contained, according to four officials familiar with the US government’s contingency planning, Report informs referring to The Washington Post.
The specter of such an operation comes as Israeli forces, aided by US weapons and military advisers, prepare for what is widely expected to be a perilous ground offensive against Hamas militants responsible for the stunning cross-border attack that has reignited hostilities.
The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail internal deliberations, said Americans living in Israel and neighboring Lebanon are of particular concern, though they stressed that an evacuation of that magnitude is considered a worst-case scenario and that other outcomes are seen as more likely.
Still, one official said, it “would be irresponsible not to have a plan for everything”.
The administration, despite its forceful public support for Israel, is deeply alarmed by the prospect of escalation, and in recent days it has turned its attention in part to the complicated logistics of abruptly having to relocate a large number of people, according to three people familiar with the discussions. There were about 600,000 US citizens in Israel and another 86,000 believed to be in Lebanon when Hamas attacked, according to State Department estimates.
The concern in Lebanon is chiefly over Hezbollah, a political party and militant group that has controlled the country since 1992. It has long accepted training and weapons from Iran, prompting concerns that it could attack Israel from the north, creating a two-front war that would stretch Israeli forces. Already, there have been skirmishes along their shared border.