Canada tells citizens to leave Lebanon for fear of war between Israel, Hezbollah

Germany’s foreign minister, in Beirut after Israel visit, warns a ‘miscalculation’ could trigger all-out war and urges restraint on both sides

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly talks to media as she arrives to attend an informal meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs at Czernin Palace in Prague, Czech Republic on May 31, 2024. (Michal Cizek / AFP)
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly talks to media as she arrives to attend an informal meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs at Czernin Palace in Prague, Czech Republic on May 31, 2024. (Michal Cizek / AFP)

Canada urged its citizens in Lebanon on Tuesday to leave “while they can,” warning of the risk of escalating violence between Israel and Hezbollah in the region.

Foreign Minister Melanie Joly in a statement called for Canadians to depart while commercial flights remain in operation.

“The security situation in Lebanon is becoming increasingly volatile and unpredictable due to sustained and escalating violence between Hezbollah and Israel and could deteriorate further without warning,” she said.

“If the armed conflict intensifies,” she said, it could make it harder to leave the country and for Canada to provide consular services to tens of thousands of Canadians believed to be living in the country.

Ottawa is not offering to evacuate Canadians, and an advisory warns against travel to Lebanon.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock cautioned on Tuesday that “miscalculation” could trigger all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah, urging the need for “extreme restraint.”

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (L) arrives to meet with Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati (not pictured) in Beirut on June 25, 2024. (Anwar AMRO / AFP)

“With every rocket across the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel, the danger grows that a miscalculation could trigger a hot war,” Baerbock said on X during a visit to Beirut, referring to the demarcation line between Israel and Lebanon.

“All who bear responsibility must exercise extreme restraint,” she added.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for multiple attacks on Israeli troops and positions on Tuesday, while Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported Israeli airstrikes in parts of southern Lebanon.

Baerbock met Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who said the best way to reach “a return to calm in south Lebanon is to put an end to the Israeli aggression… and fully apply United Nations Resolution 1701,” according to a statement from his office.

The resolution ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah and called for the Lebanese army and UN peacekeepers to be the only armed forces deployed in the country’s south.

Baerbock also met with her Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib during her brief trip to Beirut, which came after visits to Israel and the West Bank.

A smoke plume billows during an Israeli strike on the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon on June 23, 2024. (Rabih DAHER / AFP)

She noted that Lebanon’s hosting of many refugees poses “major challenges,” referring to Syrians who have fled conflict in their country across the border since 2011.

“We will therefore provide another 18 million euros ($19 million) for humanitarian aid — specifically for food, accommodation and doctors,” she said in the statement.

On a previous visit in January, the German minister pledged 15 million euros to bolster the Lebanese army, which like other national institutions has faced funding problems since the country’s economy collapsed in late 2019.

Several Western diplomats have visited Lebanon in recent months, seeking to dial down cross-border tensions, including US envoy Amos Hochstein who last week called for “urgent” de-escalation.

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 15 Israel Defense Forces soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Fires and smoke rise at houses in the northern Israeli border town of Metula, hit by Hezbollah shelling, as seen from the Lebanese town of Marjayoun, Lebanon, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Hezbollah has named 349 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 64 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israeli forces are winding up the most intense part of the Gaza war, which was sparked by Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel in which terrorists murdered some 1,200, mostly civilians, and took 251 hostages.

Netanyahu said that the IDF’s troops would redeploy to the northern border, although he cast the move as defensive rather than offensive.

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