Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon

Almost a decade and a half ago, Lebanon witnessed yet another bloody war. The 2006 war wasn’t the first between the two countries but unlike the first one, the war in 2006 only lasted 35 days. The war was cruel, bloody, and destructive all while leaving yet another unremovable red stain on the country’s history and in the civilians’ minds. 

Background to the War 

Till now several people argue about the war’s origin. While some believe that the war was part of the wider disagreement in the Middle East in response to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, others argue that the conflict wasn’t a matter of Arabs versus Israel. Instead, it was more because of the unrest between Iran and the Israelis. Thus, Lebanon was used as a battleground for both countries to fight on.  

On the other hand, the reason that ignited the flame of war took place on 12 July 2006. Hezbollah operatives chose that day to cross the Israel-Lebanon border to ambush an Israeli military vehicle that was on patrol. Then, they killed 3 soldiers all while capturing another 2. After that, Israel retaliated with a rescue mission. However, the mission failed and 5 more were killed.  

Moreover, believing they had the upper hand, the militia group of Hezbollah demanded the release of Lebanese prisoners that were held by Israel in return for the release of the two soldiers.  

Isreal refused the hostage trade and then launched large-scale ground and air attacks on Lebanon. Furthermore, they decided to also impose an air and naval blockade on the country. Thus, in order to punish the actions of few, Israel started reigning destruction on Lebanon and the 34-day war began.  

The course of the Hezbollah-Israeli war 

Israel didn’t only target Hezbollah’s handouts but they also struck extensive civilian infrastructure. They bombed Beirut’s airport, TV, and radio stations as well as schools and universities.  

As a matter of retaliation, Hezbollah fired Katyusha missiles into Israel. Such missiles were one of the Soviet Union weapons during World War II. On 16 July, Hezbollah managed to kill eight Israel Railways employees working in the Haifa train depot. The militia also was successful in hitting northern isreali occupied   cities such as Safed, Nazareth, and Afula. 

On 30 July, Israel destructively bombed the village of Qana located in southern Lebanon. The attack resulted in the death of 28 civilians with 13 of them being mere children. Moreover, 13 people were reported missing after the incident. The attack also resulted in an international outcry where the world criticized Israel for purposely targeting civilians. Thus, On 2 August, the Human Rights Watch accused the Israel military of committing war crimes. 

Furthermore, On 11 August 2006, the UN Security Council stepped in. They unanimously approved the Security Council Resolution 1701 to end the hostilities. Both sides agreed for a cease-fire on 14 August. Eventually, on 8 September 2006, Israel lifted the naval blockade and the war finally came into an end.  

Casualties and damage 

The country suffered a lot during this small war. Almost 1200 Lebanese citizens were killed with 30 percent of them being under the age of 13. The war also displaced one-third of the country while destroying their homes and vital infrastructure. Moreover, even though there is an official statement, Hezbollah is estimated to have lost between 300 to 500 soldiers. Almost 4,409 were injured and 30 percent of them were permanently disabled. Furthermore, the damage Lebanon faced is estimated to have cost them 2.8 bn. The economy also shrank by five percent, since tourism was effectively halted. Plus, during the war, Israel dropped almost 7000 bombs on the country. 

In addition, Between the end of the war and November 2008, land mines and unexploded Israeli cluster bombs killed 20 civilians while injuring 270 others.  

One the other hand, Israel also suffered a number of casualties. About 43 civilians and 117 IDF soldiers were killed in the war. Israel also lost revenue and construction was estimated at 1.6 bn. During the war, police have reported the landing of 3970 on the Israeli occupied land.  

The war also was the cause of the death of 4 United Nations Military Observers and injuring several more. 

Victory? 

Initially, both sides, Israel and Hezbollah, proudly claimed victory in the war. Nasrallah has declared loud and clear that Hezbollah has achieved a “divine, historic and strategic victory”. Israel also did the same while commenting on having fewer casualties than their opponents. 

On the other hand, the fact that Hezbollah did survive the Israeli attack despite the asymmetrical power balance can be counted as some kind of pr victory. Thus, after a while, the war came to be seen as a military failure in Israel. This is because they didn’t succeed in either disarming or destroying Hezbollah. Furthermore, A commission of inquiry stated that the war was a “missed opportunity”  while revealing the shortcomings in Israel’s decision-making processes. 

Sealing Hezbollah’s dominance 

While the acclaimed Hezbollah militia is globally known as a terrorist group, for Lebanese they were Lebanon’s protector. The group was some kind of lesser evil and the devil you know versus the one you hate in the eyes of many.  However, others in the country saw them as heroes for dealing fatal blows to the enemy. Even though they were the cause of the war in the first place. On the other hand, the war did seal Hezbollah’s dominance as a necessary political-military force in the county even at the expense of the nation itself.  

In brief, Lebanon suffered a lot throughout the years. The country was almost destroyed during this war that only lasted for 34 days. Both sides suffered and neither of the countries truly won anything in the end.  

References: 

– The. (n.d.). Washington Post. Retrieved July 9, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?next_url=https%3a%2f%2fwww.washingtonpost.com%2fworld%2fmiddle_east%2ften-years-after-last-lebanon-war-israel-warns-next-one-will-be-far-worse%2f2016%2f07%2f23%2f58d7a6ca-4388-11e6-a76d-3550dba926ac_story.html 

Al Arabiya English. (2020, May 20). The 2006 Lebanon War: Hezbollah’s expensive ‘victory’ ten years on. https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2016/07/15/The-2006-Lebanon-War-Hezbollah-s-expensive-victory-ten-years-on 

Background: Facts and figures about 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war – Lebanon. (2007, July 12). ReliefWeb. https://reliefweb.int/report/lebanon/background-facts-and-figures-about-2006-israel-hezbollah-war 

Civilians under Assault. (2015, June 25). Human Rights Watch. https://www.hrw.org/report/2007/08/28/civilians-under-assault/hezbollahs-rocket-attacks-israel-2006-war 

Emmanuel Wekem Kotia and Fiifi Edu-Afful. (2014). The Lebanon-Israel War of 2006: Global Effects and its Aftermath | Small Wars Journal. Small War Journal. https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-lebanon-israel-war-of-2006-global-effects-and-its-aftermath 

Stead, R. (2018, July 12). Remembering Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon. Middle East Monitor. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180712-remembering-israels-2006-war-on-lebanon/