Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arabs and Israelis VI: The Second Lebanon War (The Hezbollah War)

After Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, low intensity conflict continued. Hezbollah established a fortified complex in southern Lebanon from which it launched missile strikes and cross-border guerilla raids into Israel.

On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah launched an attack into Israel, which killed three Israeli soldiers. The terrorists also kidnapped two Israeli soldiers who survived the raid, ostensibly to trade for jailed terrorists held by Israel. As the raiders fled back across the border, a force of Israeli tanks attempted to intercept them, but one was hit by an IED (improvised explosive device), which killed all four crewmembers.

Israel responded by launching a large offensive into Hezbollah territory in southern Lebanon. The offensive began with heavy air and artillery attacks that struck, not only Hezbollah targets, but Lebanese government targets as well. The Israelis apparently hoped that the Lebanese people would turn against Hezbollah when they saw the damage that the militants had brought to their country. The attacks actually had the opposite effect, as most Lebanese, including Lebanese Christians, were critical of Israel for attacking civilian targets.

Hezbollah responded to the Israeli attacks by launching repeated waves of rocket attacks against northern Israel. Some of these rockets reached as far as the Israeli port of Haifa, forty miles from the Lebanese border. These rockets were supplied by Syria and Iran and stockpiled over the previous years.

Unlike many previous wars, the Hezbollah War was primarily a standoff war using air and artillery attacks. For most of the war, Israel imposed an air and sea blockade of Lebanon and attacked the Beirut-Damascus highway to prevent a resupply of Hezbollah.

Ground operations by the Israelis were largely limited to operations near the Lebanese border and were aimed at specific targets, such as rocket launching facilities. An exception to this occurred late in the war when, on August 12, the Israelis launched an offensive that reached as far as the Litani River in southern Lebanon.

The war ended on August 14, 2006. Lebanon and Hezbollah accepted a UN ceasefire on August 12, and Israel accepted it the following day. Prior to that, Hezbollah had called for an unconditional ceasefire, while Israel had sought conditions, including the return of the two kidnapped soldiers and the disarming of Hezbollah.

UN Resolution 1701 was the basis for the ceasefire. It called for an Israeli withdrawal in favor of Lebanese army and UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah was to be disarmed and to remove itself from the area south of the Litani River. The two Israeli soldiers were also to be returned unconditionally. Since the ceasefire was adopted, Hezbollah has not disarmed, and in fact, has replenished its supplies of missiles used in the war. It also has not released the two Israeli soldiers. UNIFIL, a UN peacekeeping force was deployed to southern Lebanon to create a buffer between Hezbollah and Israel.

Hezbollah did prove to be a formidable foe. It proved impossible for Israel to totally dislodge Hezbollah from southern Lebanon or to turn popular opinion in Lebanon against them. Hezbollah claims that 250 of their fighters were killed during the war. Other estimates range as high as 1,000. Precise figures are difficult to determine since Hezbollah guerillas do not wear uniforms.

Israeli forces lost 121 dead and 628 wounded. Additionally, 43 Israeli civilians were killed and 4,262 were wounded. The Israeli civilian casualties were mainly the result of the hundreds of Hezbollah missiles that struck northern Israel.

Lebanese civilians suffered badly during the war. Most estimates place Lebanese civilian casualties at just under 1,200. Some of these deaths were due to Israeli attacks on Lebanese infrastructure, but many were due to the fact that Hezbollah fighters often concealed themselves among civilians.

The Hezbollah War is also called the July War and the Second Lebanon War.


http://www.citynews.ca/news/n ews_1919.aspx

http://www.mideastmonitor.org /issues/0609/0609_2.htm

http://www.historyguy.com/isra el-lebanon_war_2006.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Military_operations_of_the_200 6_Lebanon_War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ 2006_Lebanon_War

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