Canada Reportedly Preparing to Evacuate 45,000 Citizens from Lebanon

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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According to Israel’s Channel 12, Canada is in the process of preparing for a massive military operation in order to evacuate 45,000 civilians from Lebanon in the event of a war between Israel and Hezbollah. These preparations come as tensions continue to soar between Israel and Hezbollah, and fears of war grow alongside them.

A Massive Evacuation

Channel 12 cites a phone conversation that was held between Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Melanie Joly, and her Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz. During the conversation, Joly expressed Canada’s concerns over a potential war in Lebanon. It is due to these concerns that she stated Canada’s preparation to evacuate 45,000 of its citizens from Lebanon if war were to break out. Notably, this would be Canada’s largest ever evacuation operation.

Katz reportedly requested that Joly make efforts to pressure Iran and Hezbollah to “withdraw its forces beyond the Litani.” The Litani is a river within Lebanon. According to UN Security Council resolution 1701, neither Hezbollah’s forces nor Israel’s forces are allowed within the area between Israel’s border with Lebanon, called the ‘blue line’ (the area to which Israel withdrew after they pulled out of Lebanon in 2000), and the Litani River. The only military forces permitted within this area are to be Lebanese military forces, and forces from the UN’s mission in Lebanon, UNIFIL.

However, Hezbollah’s forces have increasingly operated out of this zone, including during recent clashes with Israeli forces, during which many of Hezbollah’s rocket launches have originated from within this zone.

Katz further outlined that “the window of opportunity is closing,” and that the present situation was unacceptable to Israel.

Neither Israel nor Canada have issued official statements on the matter.

Katz’ statement echoes previous statements by himself, other prominent Israeli government officials, as well as high ranking officials within the IDF. These statements have warned that the time is approaching where “a decision will have to be made” on whether or not Israel will carry out offensive action against Hezbollah.

Both sides have proven to be resistant to external pressure urging for de-escalation, with calls for negotiations and restraint appearing to have fallen flat.

On Wednesday, the IDF’s Chief of Staff, Major General Herzi Halevi, visited air defence batteries on the northern border, and issued another threat to Hezbollah.

“We of course possess infinitely more powerful capabilities, which I think the enemy knows only a little of the capabilities we possess, and will meet them when necessary at the right time . Our test is to make sure that today we protect, tomorrow we win, Mohartai return the residents back to a much safer reality, and then also build and restore with them and make this beautiful area stronger than it was before the war” -IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi

Halevi’s threat came one day after an extensive threat from Hezbollah’s Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah.

Nasrallah stated that, should things come to war, Hezbollah will fight with “no rules, no boundaries, no limits.” Nasrallah also threatened to strike Cyprus if the nation were to allow for Israel to use its airbases for strikes against Lebanon.

“If it opens its airports and bases to Israel for use during war, then Cyprus will be part of the war” -Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah

A photo of a funeral procession in Lebanon for a Hezbollah fighter killed during clashes with Israel in Southern Lebanon, on November 6th, 2023 (Photo from AP/Hassan Ammar).

Further, Nasrallah threatened to invade Galilee in Israel’s north if war were to break out. Lebanon, Hezbollah, and Israel hold a border dispute in the north in an area known as Shebaa Farms. Both Hezbollah and Lebanon claim it to be Lebanese territory that was occupied by Israel in 1967.

This is disputed by Israel and the UN, who claim it to have been occupied by Israel from Syria in 1967.

Notably, Syria itself has concurred with Lebanon’s claims, stating the territory to be Lebanese.

A number of Hezbollah’s strikes throughout the present Israel-Gaza War have been against Shebaa Farms. Israel and Hezbollah have previously clashed over the territory, particularly from Israel’s withdraw from Lebanon in 2000, until the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.