Family members of US government personnel and non-essential embassy staff were allowed to leave Lebanon after the embassy in Beirut was targeted by protestors who started a fire at the complex.
Footage from the ground showed heavy protesting, with those gathered reportedly denouncing US support for Israeli “bombardment of innocent Palestinians” – per ABC News.
The fire was started behind the security gates of the compound, with one protestor also scaling a barbed-wire fence surrounding the building in order to plant a Palestinian flag on the embassy’s flagpole. Tear gas was used by Embassy security officials to disperse protesters.
Hours after the demonstrations began, the State Department issued a ‘do not travel’ advisory “due to the unpredictable security situation related to rocket, missile, and artillery exchanges between Israel and Hizballah or other armed militant factions,” according to the advisory.
“On October 17, 2023, 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 stated.
The advisory noted that “large demonstrations have erupted in the wake of recent violence in Israel and Gaza.”
It continued: “US citizens should avoid demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests as some of these have turned violent.
“Protesters have blocked major roads, including thoroughfares between downtown Beirut and the area where the US Embassy is located, and between Beirut and Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport.”
It warned that: “US citizens who choose to travel to Lebanon should be aware that consular officers from the US Embassy are not always able to travel to assist them.”
“The Department of State considers the threat to US government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security. The internal security policies of the US Embassy may…