Americans Start To Flee Lebanon
A woman walks past a screen displaying stock index at a stock trading firm in Hong Kong Wednesday, May 23, 2012. A report that Greece is considering preparations to leave the euro common currency sent Asian stock markets lower Wednesday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.7 percent to 18,721.37 in the mid-day close. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) / Vincent Yu
U.S. Marines are racing to complete evacuation plans for thousands of Americans in Lebanon, many destined to flee the battle zone aboard a rented cruise ship. Hundreds of French citizens and other Europeans, many in tears, boarded a ferry to Cyprus Monday.
Within earshot, in Beirut's southern suburbs, Israeli jets continued their assault, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports, while in Beirut's port, a Greek ferry waited to evacuate more than 1,000 people and the first busses pulled up for the mass evacuation.
The ship was the first sailing off to safety from Beirut. It was organized by the French government to take out foreign citizens considered vulnerable — pregnant women, families with young children and people who are sick, Palmer reports.
Some Americans have driven to Syria in recent days and flown out of the region from there, despite U.S. government warnings that the road journey was too dangerous. It will be Tuesday at the earliest before large-scale evacuations can begin, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. Then, a Greek commercial vessel, the Orient Queen, with capacity to carry 750 passengers, will be under U.S. charter and available to ferry evacuees from Lebanon to Cyprus.
"I think we've made a mistake in policy," said CBS News Military Analyst Ret. Army Col. Mitch Mitchell. "When we see a hot war starting, whether it's going to turn into an all out war or not, we should be doing everything we can to get Americans out and I don't think we're doing a good job at all."
Meanwhile, just hours after Israel appeared to scale back its demands for stopping the fighting, Hezbollah reacted with a new barrage of rockets fired by guerrillas in southern Lebanon toward northern Israel.
Five people were hurt after militants in Lebanon fired a rocket that hit near an Israeli hospital. Security officials also say other rockets hit the normally bustling city of Haifa. People there had already been told to stay in bomb shelters after an apartment building was destroyed by another rocket earlier Monday.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said earlier Monday that Israel will continue its strikes against Lebanon until its soldiers captured by Hezbollah are returned, rocket attacks on Israeli cities stop and Lebanese soldiers are deployed along the border.
More than 230 people have been reported killed in Lebanon and Israel combined since fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas broke out on July 12.
What Israel expects next from Hezbollah is a strike on the country's biggest city, Tel Aviv, something absolutely unthinkable here before the recent attacks on Haifa, CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports.
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