Canada is ending evacuation flights from Israel as it prepares for a potential rescue operation in Lebanon amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The last planned evacuation flight by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) departed from Israel on Monday, marking the conclusion of one evacuation mission as Ottawa gears up for another.

Canada has so far assisted around 1,600 Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and eligible family members in leaving Israel, as well as some foreign citizens. According to Global Affairs Canada (GAC), 19 such "departure assist flights" have been conducted from Tel Aviv over the past 10 days.

In Lebanon, approximately 16,500 citizens have registered with the government, suggesting that the number of individuals needing assistance fleeing Lebanon could be ten times larger than the number evacuated from Israel. Additionally, government estimates suggest there are anywhere from 40,000 to 75,000 Canadians in Lebanon at any given time.

In preparation for a potential evacuation, the CAF has deployed personnel to the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and to Cyprus, a Mediterranean island that has been used as a rescue point in the past.

"We will be prepared," said Defence Minister Bill Blair during a Friday event. "We are building plans and preparing to be able to respond if necessary, so we can do so quickly to save Canadian lives if it comes to that," added Major-General Darcy Molstad during a press briefing.

Canada has been in a similar situation before; in 2006, the federal government evacuated about 15,000 people from Lebanon, the majority of whom had dual citizenship. This was a controversial move that cost the federal treasury nearly $100 million.

Two senior officials who helped organize that evacuation told CBC News that Canada is better prepared for a rescue mission now but it remains a challenging task.

"In 2006, we were in a difficult situation," said Ontario Senator Peter Boehm, a former senior diplomat who led the government's evacuation working group. "Canada has a very good consular system, as we did at the time, but nothing on that scale was prepared."

Boehm stated that Canada now has a Rapid Deployment Team (SRDT) that can be quickly deployed to assist with evacuations. The government has also built an Emergency Operations Centre in Ottawa.

A dedicated team of staff is available around the clock to help resolve consular issues by phone and email, which eases the burden on small Canadian embassies.

GAC has gained more experience in conducting such operations; it assisted Canadians stranded in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and evacuated Sudanese citizens to safety earlier this year.

"There's a greater sense of flexibility that's emerging. But there will always be cases that, for one reason or another, go unnoticed," said Boehm.

"That's why the government is issuing the call: 'You might want to think about leaving because we don't know what the situation is and to what extent we can assist you.'"

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said on Sunday that his government does not want war.

"We were very scared and very concerned that the war might spread. That's the last thing we want," he said.

However, Hezbollah, a powerful Iranian-backed militia that controls parts of Lebanon, may have different intentions.

Following a deadly Hamas attack on Israeli civilians on October 7 and Israel's military response in Gaza, Hezbollah initiated airstrikes on northern Israel. Israeli Defense Forces responded with strikes on what they referred to as Hezbollah's "rocketry sites" in Lebanon.