Rioters attack U.S. embassy in Lebanon

 October 19, 2023

The American embassy in Beirut was attacked Wednesday as unrest swept the Middle East region following the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians at a hospital in Gaza.

The United States warned its citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon, even as President Biden visited neighboring Israel to show his support for the country in its deadly war with Hamas.

American embassy attacked

Earlier this month, Hamas militants breached the Gaza border and slaughtered over 1,400 Israelis, dragging dozens of others captive back into Gaza.

Israel's military response to the attack - and especially the deaths of hundreds at a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday - have energized the Arab world, raising fears of a wider conflict.

President Biden and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu have blamed the hospital bombing on allies of Hamas, which rules the densely populated Gaza Strip, but the tragedy has struck a chord throughout the Arab world, where resentment of U.S.-backed Israel and its "occupation" of Palestine runs high.

In Beirut, protesters clashed with the Lebanese military outside the U.S. embassy. Rioters threw Molotov cocktails, setting the embassy on fire, and blocked major highways in the Beirut area.

The State Department warned Americans to steer clear of Lebanon "due to terrorism, civil unrest, armed conflict, crime, kidnapping, and Embassy Beirut’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens."

Tensions spread to the West

There were similar riots targeting symbols of American and Western power all throughout the Arab world, as Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militant group based in Lebanon, declared an "unprecedented day of anger" on the eve of Biden's visit to Israel.

Protesters attempted to storm the Israeli embassy in Jordan, where a meeting between Biden and Arab leaders was cancelled after Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian National Authority, pulled out.

The rising tensions have not remained confined to the Middle East region, with pro-Palestine demonstrations cropping up in America and the wider Western world. Fears of jihadism and anti-Semitic terror are on the rise following fresh Islamist attacks in France and Belgium.

The unrest in the Middle East found an echo at home in the United States, as protesters sympathetic to Palestine occupied the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday to demand a cease-fire in Gaza.

The conflict has also unmasked sympathy for Hamas on the American left, where the terrorists have been celebrated as freedom fighters against "apartheid."

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