Canadian special forces members are in Israel helping Canada’s embassy there with “contingency planning,” a Department of National Defence spokesperson confirmed to CBC News on Sunday.
“As there is potential for the escalation of hostilities in the Middle East, including at the border separating Israel and Lebanon, Global Affairs Canada has requested [Canadian Armed Forces] support to ensure a rapid response should the security situation rapidly deteriorate and support for the evacuation of Canadians is required,” the department said in a statement.
“In support of Global Affairs Canada, [Canadian Armed Forces] personnel from Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) are assisting the Canadian embassy in Israel with contingency planning.”
In a statement earlier in the week, Defence Minister Bill Blair said 300 CAF members are now in the region, with a task force headquartered in Cyprus. Officials did not further elaborate on what special forces members were doing in the area. Global News first reported Sunday that special forces members were present in Israel.
The Canadian military has already been active in the region as the conflict between Israel and Hamas has intensified, since the latter’s attacks on Oct. 7. Military planes ran several evacuation flights from Israel to Greece in the weeks after the war began. At the time the flights ended, Canada had helped around 1,600 citizens, permanent residents and their families leave Israel.
Canada warned Saturday that citizens in Lebanon should leave that country while they still can. There is significant concern that as fighting intensifies in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah — an Iran-backed Lebanese political party and armed movement that supports Hamas — could fully enter into the conflict. There have already been clashes along the Israel-Lebanon border. An estimated 40,000 to 75,000 Canadians are living in Lebanon at any given time, according to government data.
Source: CBC News