Amid escalating tensions in the region, a number of nations have issued urgent evacuation directives to their nationals residing in Lebanon.
The move comes as concerns grow about Hezbollah, an Iranian-supported militant group, increasing its aggressive maneuvers on the Israeli northern border. This has stoked fears that Israel might face another significant conflict with Islamic militants in the area.
Israeli intelligence points to a potential massive assault by Hezbollah, which boasts an estimated force of 20,000 troops and an arsenal of around 150,000 rockets. Such capabilities present a more significant threat than the recent rocket onslaught from Hamas.
In a public address, Hezbollah’s Hashem Safieddine addressed a large assembly, asserting the group’s strength has magnified “thousands of times” since its inception. He issued stark warnings against Israel and Western powers, suggesting that any move against Hezbollah would be met with severe consequences.
Countries such as the USA, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Spain, and the Netherlands have promptly advised their citizens to depart from Lebanon. Concurrently, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued an evacuation recommendation for inhabitants of 28 communities along the Israel-Lebanon borderline. Some of these areas include Ghajar, Dishon, Kfar Yuval, Metula, Avivim, and Ma’ayan Baruch.
Joint Ministry of Defense and IDF announcement:
The National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) of the Ministry of Defense and the IDF are announcing the implementation of a plan to evacuate residents of northern Israel who live in the area up to 2 kilometers from the…
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) October 16, 2023
Hezbollah, rooted primarily in Lebanon’s Shiite-majority areas, has been involved in several global attacks. The Council on Foreign Relations confirms its influence across regions of Beirut, southern Lebanon, and the eastern Bekaa Valley.
The following nations are urging their citizens to leave Lebanon ASAP:
Hezbollah, which is funded and controlled by the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, is based in…
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 18, 2023
The group’s mission revolves around the eradication of Israel and has targeted the U.S. globally, maintaining operations in regions such as Africa, the Americas, and Asia. Supported by Iranian financial aid, weaponry, and training, Hezbollah receives an influx of several hundred million dollars annually.
Recent 2022 reports, including from Europol, have underscored Hezbollah’s illicit activities, including drug trafficking into the EU, arms smuggling, and money laundering operations. Additionally, they’ve been linked to the trade of amphetamine-type stimulants labeled “captagon” on the Syria-Lebanon border.
The Obama administration has previously faced criticism for allegedly impeding a significant inquiry into Hezbollah, which some believe led to the group’s accelerated growth and drug trafficking activities in the Americas. This was supposedly done to pacify Iran in pursuit of a nuclear accord.
In a pivotal 2015 incident, Israel’s Mossad shared intel with British authorities, aiding in the prevention of terror attacks on British soil. Hezbollah operatives were found to be hoarding large amounts of ammonium nitrate, an explosive substance, in hidden locations in Britain. This stockpile was larger than the amount used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which resulted in significant casualties and infrastructure damage.