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The U.S. is elevating its travel advisory and allowing non-emergency personnel to leave Lebanon after the embassy in Beirut was targeted by Pro-Palestinian protestors who started a fire at the complex. U.S. 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 U.S. government personnel and some non-emergency personnel from U.S. 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. 

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 U.S. embassy. Video shows the protestor scaling a barb-wire-topped fence to replace a U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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. Read the full story: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12642275/us-embassy-lebanon-protest-hamas-israel-hezbollah.html?ito=msngallery

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