The United States is elevating its travel advisory and allowing non-emergency personnel to leave Lebanon after the American embassy in Beirut was targeted by Pro-Palestinian protestors who started a fire at the complex.
US military groups deployed smoke and gas to disperse the protestors who gathered at the embassy following an attack on a hospital in Gaza.
Hours after the protests began, the State Department issued the travel advisory.
‘The Department authorized the voluntary, temporary departure of family members of US government personnel and some non-emergency personnel from US Embassy Beirut due to the unpredictable security situation in Lebanon,’ the announcement read.
Pro-Palestine protests have broken out in the Middle East after a blast at the hospital that killed at least 500 people. Palestine blamed Israel and said it was a targeted air strike. Israel contends it was a misfired rocket from inside Gaza that hit the facility.
Iran-backed Hezbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006, called for a day of unprecedented anger in Beirut on Tuesday in response to the attack.
Protests erupted outside the U.S. embassy in Beirut just hours after a blast at a hospital in Gaza that Hamas claims killed at least 500 people and has more trapped under rubble
Hundreds of Lebanese protesters, some waving Palestinian flags, gathered late into Tuesday night outside the U.S. embassy in response to the incident. Others gathered outside the French embassy in Beirut
Americans are also being advised to avoid the border with Syria due to terrorism and armed conflict, the border with Israel and refugee settlements.
On Tuesday, thousands of Lebanese protesters, some waving Palestinian flags, gathered outside the US embassy. Video shows the protestor scaling a barb-wire-topped fence to replace a US flag with a Palestinian version. A fire was also set near the complex. Later, footage showed gas being sprayed at the protestors to push them back.
It’s unclear if any protestors have breached the perimeter fence or if any embassy personnel have been hurt.
It’s unclear if the protesters are marching on the old embassy in Lebanon or the new one that began construction in April 2017, a 43-acre compound that has caused controversy in the country.
Initial press release described it as a $1billion project, according to The Independent. Objectors complained about the price tag and the size of the embassy given so few Americans travel to Lebanon.
Dorothy Shea, the United States’ Ambassador to Lebanon, was previously the political officer at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, where she worked on the Israeli-Palestine peace process.
She was appointed to her role in 2020 by then-president Donald Trump.
Shea leads the embassy now under siege after the Gaza blast. Israel’s military denied responsibility and suggested the hospital was hit by a failed rocket launch by the enclave’s Palestinian Islamic Jihad military group.
Islamic Jihad denied that any of its rockets were involved in the hospital blast.
In denouncing what the group said was a strike by Israel, Hezbollah said in its statement: ‘The attack reveals the true criminal face of this entity and its sponsor … the United States, which bears direct and complete responsibility for this massacre.’
Video from the hospital showed fire engulfing the building and the hospital’s grounds strewn with bodies, many of them young children. Hundreds of people were reportedly seeking shelter at the hospital at the time of the blast, which Hamas has called a ‘horrific massacre’ and a ‘crime of genocide’.
About 6,000 Palestinians were sheltering at the hospital, which is reportedly funded by the Anglican Church.
The strike, soon after at least six were killed in a strike on a nearby UN-run school during Israeli bombardments, escalates the 11-day-old war, which has already claimed thousands of lives on both sides.
It also happened just hours before US President Joe Biden was due to touch down in the Middle East for high-stakes talks on the war, which was cancelled as summit host Jordan and the wider region mourned the victims, the White House said.
Biden’s visit to Israel was still going ahead.
Protesters clash with Lebanese security forces outside the US Embassy during a demonstration
A Lebanese protester flashes the V for victory sign as a fire rages behind the security gate of the US embassy
Lebanese protesters wave Palestinian national flags and shout slogans in solidarity with the people of Gaza in down town Beirut, after a strike on a hospital in the Gaza Strip
Tear gas was fired at protesters near the U.S. embassy in Lebanon.
People stand in front of fire that erupted outside the security gate, during clashes between protesters and security forces outside the US embassy in Beirut
It’s unclear if the protesters are marching on the old embassy in Lebanon or the new one that began construction in April 2017, a 43-acre compound that has caused controversy in the country
Hours after the blast at the Gaza hospital, Biden released a statement denouncing the attack on the facility.
‘I am outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, and the terrible loss of life that resulted. Immediately upon hearing this news, I spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and have directed my national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened,’ the statement read.
‘The United States stands unequivocally for the protection of civilian life during conflict and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocents killed or wounded in this tragedy.
An analysis of IDF operational systems has indicated that the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is ‘responsible for the failed shooting that hit the hospital’.
The military, in a statement, said that a ‘barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit’.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip says at least 500 people have been killed in an explosion that it says was caused by an Israeli airstrike
Unverified photographs circulating on social media showed fire engulfing the hospital halls, shattered glass and body parts scattered across the area
An IDF spokesperson added: ‘Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.’
The Islamic Jihad is another Gaza-based terrorist group which has claimed to be fighting Israel alongside Hamas. The group has denied responsibility for the attack.
The Israeli army earlier on Tuesday said that a hospital is a ‘highly sensitive building’ and is ‘not an IDF target’, and urged ‘everyone to proceed with caution when reporting unverified claims of a terrorist organization’.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X, formerly Twitter: ‘WHO strongly condemns the attack on al-Ahli Hospital in north Gaza. Early reports indicate hundreds of deaths and injuries.
‘We call for the immediate protection of civilians and health care, and for the evacuation orders to be reversed.’
But Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: ‘The entire world should know: It was barbaric terrorists in Gaza that attacked the hospital in Gaza, and not the IDF. Those who brutally murdered our children also murder their own children.’
Scores of injured people are being taken to Al-Shifa Hospital following Israeli airstrike on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday
An injured young child is carried by an apparent medic after an airstrike on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has also blamed the United States for the attack, saying in a televised speech late on Tuesday that Washington gave Israel ‘the cover for its aggression.’
‘The hospital massacre confirms the enemy’s brutality and the extent of his feeling of defeat,’ he said, adding that the attack will be ‘a new turning point.’
Haniyeh called on all Palestinian people ‘to get out and confront the occupation and the settlers.’ He also called on all Arabs, and Muslims to stage protests against Israel.
Mark Regev, senior adviser to Mr Netanyahu, told the BBC Israel would not ‘deliberately target a hospital’.
He said: ‘My information, that I have just received from the highest authority … is that all indications are that this was not Israeli orders, that this was rather a Hamas rocket that fell short.’
Former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal also called for protests in front of Israeli embassies across the world after the hospital blast.
In the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesters throwing rocks and chanting against Abbas as popular anger boiled over after the blast.
Clashes with Palestinian security forces broke out in a number of other cities in the West Bank, which is ruled by Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, late on Tuesday, witnesses said.
In the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesters throwing rocks and chanting against Abbas as popular anger boiled over after the blast
People clash with Palestinian security forces during a rally in solidarity with the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Tuesday
Demonstrators are seen flooding the streets of Ramallah on Tuesday evening in support of the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip
Protesters and Palestinian security forces clash during a rally in Ramallah on Tuesday night
Hundreds of people joined protests that erupted in Beirut and Amman, where an angry crowd gathered outside the Israeli embassy.
In Tunisia hundreds gathered outside French embassy as they denounced the European country – who have ‘firmly’ denounced the strike – and the US as ‘allies of Zionists’.
Hezbollah in Lebenon announced ‘a day of unprecedented anger’ against Israel and Biden’s visit to the country, according to a statement released late on Tuesday.
The statement claimed: ‘The attack reveals the true criminal face of this entity and its sponsor…the United States, which bears direct and complete responsibility for this massacre.’
Rishi Sunak is considering a visit to Israel as soon as tomorrow to offer support and discuss how to stop the conflict triggering a wider regional war. Downing Street declined to comment on the Prime Minister’s travel plans last night. But senior Tories expect him to go in the coming days and Sky News reported that he could also visit Jordan and Egypt.
The Prime Minister has defended Israel’s ‘absolute right’ to defend itself. He told MPs that the UK would not ‘prescribe’ how Israel’s forces should go about rooting out Hamas from strongholds in Gaza – and rescuing hostages, including British nationals. But UK diplomats are privately urging Israel to ensure its operations do not break international law.
Mr Sunak is also pushing for Israel to open a ‘humanitarian corridor’ to allow people trapped in Gaza to escape to Egypt.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK will work with allies to find out the cause of an explosion at a hospital in Gaza which has killed hundreds of people.
In a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Cleverly said the UK had been ‘clear’ that civilians must be protected in Gaza.
He said: ‘The destruction of Al Ahli hospital is a devastating loss of human life.
‘The UK has been clear. The protection of civilian life must come first.
‘The UK will work with our allies to find out what has happened and protect innocent civilians in Gaza.’
With tens of thousands of troops massed along the border, Israel has been expected to launch a ground invasion into Gaza – but plans remained uncertain.
Protesters are pictured following a clash with security forces at a rally in solidarity with the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip in the West Bank city of Ramallah
Clashes with Palestinian security forces broke out in a number of other cities in the West Bank, which is ruled by Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, late on Tuesday
On the opposite side,