AROUND 800 Filipinos in southern Lebanon have been advised to evacuate “preemptively” as Israel and Hezbollah militants exchange fire across the border.
The Philippine Embassy in Beirut said due to the “persistent tension in Lebanon’s southern border,” the rest of the 17,000 Filipino workers throughout Lebanon should also avoid traveling to the south, near the border of Israel.
Hezbollah has been exchanging rocket fire with Israeli troops across the border since the Palestinian armed faction Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.
Hamas and Hezbollah are both backed by Iran and have been vocal against Israel. Both the US and Israel tagged the groups as terrorist organizations.
“Due to the persistent tension in Lebanon’s southern border, posing a significant threat to the safety and security of civilian residents, the Philippine Embassy urges all Filipino nationals close to the border to evacuate preemptively to ensure their well-being and security,” the Embassy in Beirut said in its advisory Tuesday.
There are around 800 Filipinos in southern Lebanon, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Many analysts fear that if violence escalates in the the Israel-Hezbollah border, it may open a new front against Israel, which is focused at the moment in eliminating the Hamas for killing 1,400 people—the most violent attack on Israel since World War II Holocaust.
“Given the unstable situation, Filipinos are reminded to avoid non-essential travel to South Lebanon,” the Embassy added.
Latest data from DFA showed there are 17,537 registered Filipino workers in the whole of Lebanon.
DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said despite the hostilities in the Israel-Lebanon border, the government maintains the contingency level to Alert 2.
Alert 2 means Filipinos are advised to be on alert and prepare for possible evacuation.
Doctors safe in Gaza
Meanwhile, two Filipino doctors in Gaza Strip are safe amid the massive blast that rocked a hospital in Gaza City.
Philippine Ambassador in Amman Wilfredo Santos said the two Filipino doctors from the international nongovernment charity group Doctors Without Borders (also known by the French acronym MSF) are not among those hurt by the recent missile attack to a hospital that killed 500 people.
The other 133 Filipinos in Gaza Strip are also safe.
“[All the Filipinos who used to live in] Gaza City—where the hospital is located—[have moved] to southern Gaza,” Santos said.
Volunteer doctors, nurses and medical personnel from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have been providing surgical and inpatient care to people of Gaza since the Hamas and Israel resumed hostilities on October 7. But MSF said despite the “incredible needs” in Gaza, they are forced to suspend most of their medical emergency operations. Battle-tested MSF doctors have witnessed many conflicts around the world but Israel’s “relentless bombings” are “unimaginable” and “inhumane.”
Dr. Christos Christou, International President of MSF, confirmed hospitals and clinics have been attacked. “Others receive orders to evacuate—with just a couple of hours’ notice—with impossible decisions to make. Patients—including those in critical condition—risk their lives either by moving, or by staying behind, in both cases perhaps to die without treatment,” Christou added.
Christou also demanded that all the medical staff in Gaza be given “basic guarantees of safety” to be able to do work and help those who are wounded and sick.
Situation in Gaza and Rafah Border
THE MSF official said the people in Gaza were deprived of water, food, protected shelter, medicines.
“Basic humanity needs to be restored in the Gaza Strip,” he added.
“The indiscriminate bombing must stop. The egregious level of collective punishment currently being meted out on the people of Gaza must end. People in Gaza need protected spaces, and ways to reach them safely and unimpeded. People wishing to cross the border into Egypt should be allowed to—with the future option to come back—and be properly and humanely assisted.”
“People also need clean water, reliable electricity, access to food and healthcare,” Christou said.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes and AP/Abed Khaled