The Lebanon War In 2006 History Essay
The 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War and known in Lebanon as the July War) and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War, was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon and northern Israel. The principal parties were Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israeli military. The conflict started on 12 July 2006, and continued until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect in the morning on 14 August 2006, though it formally ended on 8 September 2006 when Israel lifted its naval blockade of Lebanon.
The conflict began when Hezbollah militants fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence. The ambush left three soldiers dead. Two additional soldiers, believed to have been killed outright or mortally wounded, were snatched by Hezbollah to Lebanon.
Five more were killed in a failed rescue attempt. Israel responded with massive airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon that damaged Lebanese civilian infrastructure, including Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport (which Israel said that Hezbollah used to import weapons and supplies) an air and naval blockade, and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah then launched more rockets into northern Israel and engaged the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in guerrilla warfare from hardened positions.
The conflict killed at least 1,300 people, mostly Lebanese citizens, severely damaged Lebanese civil infrastructure, and displaced approximately one million Lebanese and 300,000-500,000 Israelis, although most of the latter were able to return to their homes. After the ceasefire, some parts of southern Lebanon remained uninhabitable due to Israeli unexploded cluster bomblets.
On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah terrorists crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel and attacked a group of Israeli soldiers patrolling the border, killing eight soldiers and kidnapping two others - Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Israel responded with precision air strikes specifically aimed at Hezbollah positions and operational assets inside Lebanon; Hezbollah immediately unleashed a barrage of Katyusha rockets targeting civilian population centers in Israel's northern cities including Kiryat Shemona, Haifa and Safed. The rocket fire continued at an unprecedented pace of more than 100 per day, totaling nearly 4,000 rockets over the duration of the conflict which lasted close to five weeks.
Israel's air strikes targeted known Hezbollah positions including the offices of its leadership, weapons storage sites, bunkers and rocket launch sites. Israel sought to disable infrastructure used by Hezbollah including Beirut's airport and certain roads and bridges through which Iran and Syria supplied weaponry to Hezbollah. Air strikes were supported by limited ground incursions to specific villages in southern Lebanon near Israel's border followed by a broader ground offensive with the goal of expelling as many Hezbollah terrorists as possible from southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah - a U.S.-designated terrorist organization - has occupied the region south of the Litani River since shortly after Israel's U.N.-certified withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Following that withdrawal, Hezbollah moved into the vacated area and established themselves in bunkers throughout civilian areas, despite the presence of UNIFIL observer troops stationed there under the terms of Security Council Resolution 1559. Since Israel's withdrawal in 2000, Hezbollah has attacked Israel more than 20 times with cross-border raids and Katyusha rockets. Hezbollah terrorists live among civilians, store their weapons and hold meetings in civilian houses, and fire their rockets into Israel from civilian neighborhoods, in direct violation of international humanitarian law.
During the conflict, Hezbollah indiscriminately fired Katyusha rockets at Israeli population centers with the intent of harming innocent civilians. At least 157 Israelis were killed during the conflict and countless more injured. The rockets also drove nearly 400,000 Israelis from their homes in the north, while those remaining had to spend long periods in bomb shelters for the duration of the month-long conflict. Damage to northern Israel surpassed $1.5 billion.
Israel responded with air strikes that were intended to hit only legitimate military targets and took extra steps to ensure minimal civilian casualties. In advance of strikes in civilian areas, Israel gave up a certain degree of surprise by dropping fliers and sending radio messages warning civilians to leave specific areas. Israel also employed precise ordnance rather than larger, more effective ordnance to avoid collateral damage. Despite Israel's best efforts, the situation created on the ground by Hezbollah led to the temporary displacement of 800,000 Lebanese civilians and the death of an estimated 1,000 Lebanese. Hezbollah does not report its casualty figures, and many non-uniformed Hezbollah terrorists are suspected of being among the dead.
The conflict subsided with the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, passed unanimously on August 11, 2006 and adopted by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Cabinet - also unanimously - on August 13, 2006. The resolution called for an immediate cessation of hostilities to be followed by a withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon during a simultaneous takeover of the territory by a 15,000-troop contingent of the Lebanese army and a 15,000-troop beefed-up UNIFIL force comprised of international troops.
The resolution required that Lebanon assert its sovereignty over the entire country and forbade the rearming of terrorist militias in Lebanon. Nearly identical to Resolution 1559, which was passed in 2004 but never fully implemented, these stipulations require that Hezbollah be disarmed and not rearmed by any foreign powers, including most notably Iran and Syria.
Resolution 1701 mandated the "unconditional release" of the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah. In July 2008, the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were released to Israel as part of a prisoner exchange. Until that time, Hezbollah refused to provide information as to their fate.
TIMELINE OF THE CONFLICT
On 12 July, Hezbollah launched rocket attacks on Zar'it, Shlomi, and other areas. Hezbollah troops entered Israel and attacked two armoured IDF Humvees. Three Israeli soldiers were killed in the ground attack, two were wounded, captured, and taken to Lebanon. Five more Israeli soldiers were killed and a tank was destroyed in a failed rescue attempt.
Early on 13 July 2006, Israeli warplanes bombed Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport, Lebanon's only commercial airport. All three of its runways were severely damaged, forcing its closure and diversion of incoming flights to Cyprus. Israel claimed that the airport had been used by Hezbollah for smuggling arms. The Israeli Navy imposed a maritime blockade on Lebanese seaports, and the Israeli Air Force blockaded Lebanese Airspace. Israel also bombed the main Beirut -Damascus highway. Aerial attacks also centered on Hezbollah's long range missile and rocket stockpiles, most of which were destroyed in the first days of conflict. By 8 August, Israeli aerial attacks had destroyed 100 Hezbollah rocket launching platforms, and 11 mobile rocket launchers. Hezbollah launched rockets at Haifa for the first time, hitting a cable car station along with a few other locations in the city. Two civilians were killed.
On 14 July 2006 the IDF bombed Nasrallah's offices in Beirut. Nasrallah addressed Israel, saying "You wanted an open war, and we are heading for an open war. We are ready for it." Hezbollah attacked the INS Hanit, an Israeli navy Sa'ar 5-class corvette enforcing a naval blockade, with a what was believed to be a radar-guided C-802 anti-ship missile. Four sailors were killed and the warship was severely damaged. The ship was repaired and reassumed its combat role in Lebanon three weeks later An Israeli child and his grandmother were killed by a Hezbollah rocket in Meron.
On 15 July 2006 The Israeli Air Force targeted and destroyed Hezbollah Headquarters in Haret Hreik, and several offices and residences of senior Hezbollah officials. The IAF attacked and destroyed Lebanon's coastal radars. Israeli helicopter gunships pounded targets in central Beirut. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz declared Martial law throughout Northern Israel. Israel deployed three Patriot missile batteries outside Haifa.
On 16 July 2006 Israel activated a rocket warning system in Haifa, which sounded air raid sirens one minute before a rocket hit the ground.
On 17 July, some Israeli ground forces briefly advanced 1 kilometer into Lebanon and levelled Hezbollah outposts with armored bulldozers. Hezbollah hit a railroad repair depot, killing eight workers. Hezbollah asserted that this attack was aimed at a large Israeli fuel storage plant adjacent to the railway facility. Haifa is home to many strategically valuable facilities such as shipyards and oil refineries.
On 18 July, Hezbollah hit a hospital in Safed in northern Galilee; wounding eight.An Israeli man in Nahariya was killed by a rocket as he attempted to reach a bomb shelter.
On 19 July, Israeli forces made another incursion into Lebanese territory, resulting in fighting with Hezbollah. 2 Israeli soldiers and 4 Hezbollah fighters were killed, and an Israeli tank was damaged by a mortar round. Two Israeli Arab children were killed by a Hezbollah rocket attack on Nazareth.
On 20 July, there was further fighting on the Lebanese border. At least 5 Israeli soldiers and 2 Hezbollah militants were killed, and 11 Israeli soldiers wounded. An Israeli tank was also knocked out by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile. Hezbollah also claimed to have destroyed another tank, and to have shot down a helicopter. An Israeli armored bulldozer was also reportedly destroyed. Two Israeli helicopters also crashed into each other over Northern Israel, leaving a soldier dead and three wounded. Meanwhile, Israel claimed to have carried out 80 airstrikes on Lebanon.
On 21 July, Israel continued its airstrikes while massing troops on the border and calling up five battalions of reservists. Between 300 and 500 soldiers and 30 tanks were already believed to be over the border.
On 23 July 2006 Israeli land forces crossed into Lebanon in the Maroun al-Ras area, which overlooks several other locations said to have been used as launch sites for Hezbollah rockets. An Israeli civilian in Haifa was killed by a Hezbollah rocket while driving his car, and an Israeli Arab man was killed while working in Kiryat Ata.
On 24 July 2006 The IDF advanced further into Southern Lebanon, encountering heavy resistance. Fighting took place in the town of Bint Jbeil. According to Israeli sources, two soldiers were killed, 20 wounded, and two tanks were damaged. Hezbollah claimed that three of its fighters were killed, while Israel claimed that the actual number was much higher. An Israeli helicopter on its way to support ground forces in Lebanon crashed in Northern Israel, killing two pilots. Hezbollah claimed to have shot down the helicopter, while Israel claimed that the crash was possibly due to friendly fire. Near the end of the fighting, IDF forces controlled a hilltop in Bint Jbeil, while Hezbollah controlled the rest of the city.
On 25 July 2006, The IDF launched 100 airstrikes on Southern Lebanon and Beirut. IDF troops engaged Hezbollah and Amal militants. Hezbollah said that 7 of its fighters were killed, and Amal said that 4 of its fighters had also been killed. The IDF confirmed that 8 of its soldiers were lightly wounded. During the course of the day, Hezbollah fired over 100 rockets into Northern Israel. The rockets caused one civilian in Haifa to suffer a heart attack from which he later died, and wounded than 20 civilians in the city. Hezbollah rockets also killed one and injured three in Maghar.
On 26 July 2006, the Battle of Bint Jbeil began after an Israeli troops pushing into the to the town were ambushed, resulting in a battle which lasted for several hours, some of it taking place in close quarters. During the battle, 40 Hezbollah fighters and 8 IDF soldiers were killed, and most of the IDF soldiers were hit. Among the dead was the Israeli company's commander, Roi Klein. An Israeli soldier was also killed by an Anti-tank missile near Maroun al-Ras. Israeli warplanes and artillery attacked and destroyed a United Nations observer post, killing all four UN observers inside. The area was shelled fourteen times before a fighter jet dropped a bomb onto the post. Shelling resumed as rescuers were trying to reach the post. Israel claimed that it had been trying to hit Hezbollah fighters in the vicinity, and was not aimed at UN personnel. An Israeli airstrike also scored a direct hit on Hezbollah's missile command center in Tyre.
On 27 July Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes on suspected Hezbollah hideouts in hills and mountainous areas of the Bekaa Valley, and also hit targets in Beirut. A total of 120 airstrikes were carried out. Israel mobilized 15,000 reservists.
On 28 July Israeli paratroopers killed 20 Hezbollah fighters in Bint Jbeil. The fighters were from Hezbollah's elite forces.
On 29 July clashes in Bint Jbeil left 26 Hezbollah fighters dead and 6 IDF soldiers wounded. IDF troops pulled out from the town, but armored forces continued to operate in the area. The Israeli Air Force destroyed Hezbollah long-range rocket launchers which had been used to attack Afula. Israeli airstrikes also destroyed two bridges on the Orontes River, and a road on the Lebanon-Syria border. Two Indian peacekeepers were also wounded in an Israeli airstrike. The Israeli Air Force also bombed targets in Beirut. Israeli artillery also shelled the village of Arnoun.
On 30 July 2006 Israeli airstrikes hit an apartment building in Qana, killing 28 civilians, more than half of them children. The airstrike was widely condemned.
On 31 July 2006 The Battle of Ayta ash-Shab began when the IDF began hitting the town with heavy shelling and 500-pound bombs. Heavy gunfights were reported.
On 1 August 2006 The IDF confirmed that 3 soldiers were killed and 25 wounded when Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at them as they entered Ayta ash-Shab.
On 2 August 2006 Israeli commandos ferried by helicopter stormed a Hezbollah stronghold in Baalbek, 62 miles from the border. The commando assault was codenamed Operation Sharp and Smooth. The commandos killed 19 Hezbollah fighters and seized Hezbollah weapons and equipment. Israeli Paratroopers battled Hezbollah guerillas in Ayta ash-Shab, claiming that 7 Hezbollah fighters were killed and 10 wounded. The IDF confirmed that 1 soldier was killed and 14 wounded during the fighting. An Israeli civilian was killed while riding his bike in Sa'ar.
On 3 August, Nasrallah warned Israel against hitting Beirut and promised retaliation against Tel Aviv if the warning wasn't heeded. He also stated that Hezbollah would stop its rocket campaign if Israel ceased aerial and artillery strikes of Lebanese towns and villages. Hezbollah rockets hit the cities of Acre and Ma'alot-Tarshiha, killing eight civilians. Three Israeli soldiers were killed when their tank was hit by an Anti-tank missile in Rajamin, and another soldier was killed by Anti-tank fire in Tabieh.
On 4 August, Israel targeted the southern outskirts of Beirut, and IAF attacked a building in the area of al-Qaa around 10 kilometers from Hermel in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. 33 farm workers were killed during the airstrike. Later in the day, Hezbollah launched rockets at the Hadera region, killing three civilians. Four Israeli soldiers were killed in Lebanon, three of them by one Anti-tank missile in Markabeh.
On 5 August 2006 Israeli commandos carried out a nighttime raid in Tyre killing 27 Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard operatives, including senior commanders in Hezbollah's strategic rocket-launch network. Two Israeli soldiers were killed by mortar and Anti-tank fire in South Lebanon. An 87-year old Israeli woman died of a heart attack during a Hezbollah rocket attack on the suburbs of Haifa. A Bedouin-Israeli woman and her three daughters were killed by a Hezbollah rocket in the courtyard of their home.
On 6 August, 12 Israeli reservists gathering near the Lebanese border were killed in a Hezbollah rocket attack on Kfar Giladi. The soldiers had been artillery gunners preparing for action in the conflict. Three Israeli civilians were also killed in a dusk attack in the Port of Haifa. An 84-year old Israeli woman also died of a heart attack after hearing rockets fall near her home. An Israeli-Arab man was severely wounded, and succumbed to his wounds in August 2007.
On 7 August 2006 the IAF attacked the Shiyyah suburb in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, destroying three apartment buildings in the suburb, killing at least 50 people. Four Israeli soldiers and five Hezbollah fighters were killed during fighting in South Lebanon.
On 7 August the Israeli Air Force shot down a Hezbollah Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
On 8 August the IDF claimed that at least 10 Hezbollah fighters were killed during fighting in South Lebanon, and that 5 Hezbollah fighters were taken prisoner, one of whom had participated in the Hezbollah kidnapping raid. The IDF also claimed that a Hezbollah outpost, missile truck, and ammunition dump were destroyed. Four Israeli soldiers were confirmed to have been killed. Another eight were wounded, most of them during the destruction of the ammunition dump.
On 9 August, nine Israeli soldiers were killed and 11 wounded when the building they were taking cover in was struck by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile and collapsed. Four reservists were killed when their tank was hit by a missile in Ayta ash-Shab. An IDF soldier was also killed and 10 wounded by friendly fire.
On 10 August, two Israeli Arabs were killed by a Hezbollah rocket in Shaghur.
On 11 August, an Israeli soldier was killed in an exchange of fire in Rashef.
On 12 August 2006 the IDF launched the 2006 Litani offensive in South Lebanon. Over the weekend Israeli forces in southern Lebanon nearly tripled in size. A total of 24 Israeli soldiers were killed and over 100 wounded; the worst Israeli loss in a single day. Five of them were killed when Hezbollah shot down an Israeli helicopter, a first for Hezbollah. Hezbollah claimed the helicopter had been attacked with a Waad missile. Israel claimed that at least 50 Hezbollah fighters were killed and one captured, while Hezbollah denied that figure. Israel confirmed the loss of 2 tanks, while Hezbollah claimed to have destroyed 21 tanks. Under the cover of intense artillery fire, some Israeli forces reached the Litani River.
On August 12, 9 Israeli soldiers were killed and 45 wounded in heavy fighting. Hezbollah fired 250 rockets into Israel, killing one civilian.
On 13 August, The Israeli Air Force shot down two Hezbollah UAVs one of which was carrying at least 30 kilograms of explosive.Israeli troops and armor attacked Hezbollah positions in The Battle of Wadi Saluki. Israeli tanks and infantry attacked the hill of Wadi Saluki. The tanks took heavy fire from well-placed anti-tank positions, but Israeli forces fought their way to the top of the hill and stormed the anti-tank positions. 12 Israeli soldiers and 80 Hezbollah fighters were killed. An 84-year old Israeli man was killed by a rocket attack in Ya'ara.
On 14 August 2006 the Israeli Air Force reported that they had killed the head of Hezbollah's Special Forces, whom they identified as Sajed Dewayer, while Hezbollah denied this claim.
80 minutes before the cessation of hostilities, the IDF targeted a Palestinian faction in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Sidon, killing a UNRWA staff member.
On 14 August Hezbollah fired about four mortars just hours after the cease-fire came into effect. IDF troops also killed armed Hezbollah fighters approaching their positions in four separate incidents.
On 15 August IDF troops opened fire on four Hezbollah fighters approaching them, killing three. Hezbollah fired about 10 rockets inside Lebanon, none of them hitting Israel.
On 18 August IDF troops killed six Hezbollah fighters during skirmishes in Lebanon. Lebanese Police sources reported that IAF warplanes had fired missiles at Baalbek, a claim which was later contradicted by Lebanese officials. Hezbollah fired another 10 rockets into Southern Lebanon, and UNIFIL reported that an Israeli tank fired a shell into the Lebanese village of Markaba.
On 19 August Israel launched a commando raid in the Bekaa Valley to disrupt arms shipments to Hezbollah. Two Israeli soldiers and four Hezbollah fighters were killed in the operation. UNIFIL reported several overflights by Israeli jets.
On 23 August An Israeli soldier was killed by a mine.
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