Embassies in Israel Scramble to Prepare for War

Mass Evacuations of Foreigners Will Be Struggle if 'Surprise' Attack Happens

For many countries, the concern surrounding the potential Israeli attack on Iran pertains to whether they will get drawn into it, how big a war it will create, how badly it will damage the global economy, or even simply what it will do to the price of oil.

In Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, however, the concern among embassy staff is a little more short-term. With the Israeli attack treated as virtually a foregone conclusion by many, the question immediately becomes what happens when Iran inevitably retaliates.

Foreign diplomats stationed in Israel are struggling to make “contingency plans” for the event that Iranian missiles begin flying in retaliation for an Israeli attack, and what they will do not just with their staff, but with their citizens who are in Israel on vacations or business.

It could be a monumental task for some nations, and with even the US unsure that Israel will give them advanced notice, smaller nations have to assume they’ll first hear about the war on TV, or when rockets start falling.

This is a problem in a number of third-world nations where war could break out any minute, but, unlike most third-world nations, Israel has such a massive number of tourists visiting at any given time, and these threats have been ongoing for decades, so the timing is impossible to predict.

The European Union has already conceded that it does not have the means to evacuate all the EU citizens in Israel in a timely fashion if a war breaks out, and the best Israel’s government is offering is a list of public bomb shelters for them to hide in. This is not so reassuring and embassies are likely to be overrun by mobs of their own desperate citizens hoping for safe haven.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.