The Israel-Lebanon Conflict


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The Israel-Lebanon Conflict—(1978-Present): As with many of the conflicts in the Middle East, the ongoing war along the Israeli-Lebanese border is a part of the longer and larger Arab-Israeli conflict. In 1948, five Arab nations, including Lebanon, invaded Israel in a vain attempt to prevent the birth of the Jewish nation on land that the Arabs felt belonged to them. The Arabs called the land occupied by the Israelis "Palestine" and those Arabs living there as "Palestinians." As a result of this and subsequent outbreaks of warfare, thousands of Palestinians fled to neighboring Arab countries. Several Palestinian guerrilla armies formed to fight a guerrilla/terrorist war against Israel. These Palestinian forces used bases in Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets prompted retaliation on the host nations of Jordan and Lebanon by Israel. As the military forces of the Palestinians in Jordan grew, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was able to challenge the Jordanian government. That led to a war, now called the Jordanian Civil War, which was fought in 1970, resulting in the expulsion of Palestinian forces from Jordan. At this point, the Palestinian resistance moved to Lebanon, on Israel's northern border.

The newly resettled Palestinian forces, led by Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), had two important effects on Lebanon. First, their ongoing cross-border raiding brought violent responses from Israel. These retaliatory raids caused death and destruction for the local inhabitants of South Lebanon. Secondly, the large influx of mostly Muslim Palestinians upset the population balance between Lebanon's Christians and Muslims. These two religious groups fought a civil war in the 1950s, and an uneasy peace had existed in Lebanon ever since. By 1975, tensions between the Lebanese Christians on one side and the Lebanese Muslims and the PLO on the other side erupted into a bloody civil war. The Lebanese Army and government dissolved as rival Christian and Muslim militias battled for control of their nation. This conflict caused Lebanon's only two neighbors to intervene in its affairs. Soon after the war's beginning, Syria sent a 40,000 man-strong "peace-keeping" force into Eastern Lebanon. Though officially a force for peace, the Syrians soon took the side of the Muslims and PLO and actively battled the Lebanese Christian forces. Israel began aiding the Lebanese Christian forces with weapons and other assistance.

As the Lebanese Civil War raged on, the PLO continued attacks on northern Israel. By 1978, Israel decided to invade Southern Lebanon, which was now almost fully controlled by the PLO.

 Map of Lebanon

Map of Lebanon (Source: CIA)

Israeli Invasions and Incursions into Lebanon

--Israeli Invasion of Lebanon (1978)--25,000 Israeli troops invaded southern Lebanon on March 14, 1978 in a campaign to drive the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) out. This attack was in response to PLO raids into northern Israel from their bases in southern Lebanon.

After the 1970 Jordanian Civil War, in which the PLO was driven out of Jordan, southern Lebanon came under Palestinian control, with Yasser Arafat's forces creating a virtual 'state-within-a-state.' Their control became so dominant, that southern Lebanon was nicknamed "Fatahland," after al-Fatah, the name of Arafat's main PLO faction.

This Israeli military offensive forced an estimated 285,000 people to become refugees, with over 6,000 homes destroyed or badly damaged. Between 1,100 and 2,000 Lebanese civilians were killed. Twenty Israeli soldiers died, along with an unknown number of Palestinian fighters. The PLO forces retreated ahead of the Israelis and continued their attacks on Israel.

Tactically, the Israeli invasion was unsuccessful. Their target, PLO military units, left the area and survived to fight again. Israel had failed to prevent the PLO retreat.

As the Israelis withdrew in June, 1978, they turned control of the occupied territory over to the South Lebanon Army (SLA), led by Major Saad Haddad, a renegade Lebanese Army officer who set up his own militia. The SLA served as Israel's proxy in south Lebanon, often engaging the PLO in combat.

An estimated 285,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians became refugees due to Operation Litani. Estimates of civilian deaths in Lebanon range from 1,100 to 2,000. Twenty Israeli soldiers were were killed. The PLO suffered an unknown number of casualties.

1981--In response to PLO rocket attacks, Israeli forces began heavy bombing of PLO targets in Lebanon. The United States negotiated a cease-fire.

1982-- Operation Peace in Galilee (Launched on June 6, as Israel began its 1982 offensive into Lebanon in response to two specific terrorist acts; the bombing of a bus in northern Israel, and the assassination attempt on the life of Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov. Calling this invasion "Operation Peace in Galilee," (Galillee is the biblical name for northern Israel), Israel invaded Lebanon up to the outskirts of the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

While eventually allowing the PLO to leave Lebanon, Israeli forces remained in control of south Lebanon near the border until 2000, when the troops were withdrawn in order to end the ongoing guerilla war with the Shiite Lebanese militia called Hezbollah.

1993--Israeli Forces launched Operation Accountability (July 25-July 31, 1993), a week-long military campaign directed at Hezbollah ( this conflict is called The Seven-Day War by the Lebanese).

In June, 1993, Hezbollah launched rockets against a settlement in northern Israel, and then in July, 1993, both Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) launched attacks which killed five Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers in Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon. Israel decided to respond to these attacks by making southern Lebanon an inhospitable environment for Hezbollah.

During Operation Accountability, Israeli forces destroyed or damaged thousands of houses and buildings, causing some 300,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians from southern Lebanon to migrate towards Beirut and other areas outside of the combat zone. Israeli forces also targeted Lebanese infrastructure, (power stations, bridges, and roadways. This is a tactic that would be repeated in future Israeli attacks on Hezbollah and Lebanon. Hezbollah responded with more rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets.

At least 118 Lebanese civilians and two Israeli civilians died during this operation.

1996--Operation Grapes of Wrath (April 11-April 27, 1996) --Israel's massive air and artillery attack on Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon which attempted to end shelling of northern Israel by Hezbollah, which was backed by Iran and Syria. Israel forces launched 1,100 air raids and fired nearly 25,132 shells at Hezbollah targets during the sixteen-day offensive. A United Nations camp at Qana, Lebanon, was hit by Israeli shelling, killing 118 Lebanese civilians who sought shelter there. Nearly 640 Hezbollah rockets hit northern Israel in this time period, particularly the often-hit settlement of Kiryat Shemona. Israel's ally and proxy force, the South Lebanon Army (a mixed Christian and Shiite Muslim militia under the command of renegade Lebanese Major Saad Haddad), also engaged in ground fighting with Hezbollah.

At least 350 civilians were wounded in Lebanon , and 62 Israeli civilians were wounded in Israel.

2006--In response to the killing of three Israeli soldiers and the capture of two others in July, 2006 Israel found itself immersed in yet another Lebanese war . See also Israel-Lebanon/Hezbollah War of 2006


Following the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, there have been sporadic acts of violence along the border, with some of the fighting between the Israelis and the Lebanese Army, but with most of it involving Hezbollah.


From 2007-2013, there were five cross-border incidents between the Israeli and Lebanese militaries, resulting in three Israeli deaths, one Israeli wounded, along with two Lebanese troops killed, and seven wounded.

From 2007-2015, there have been several border incidents between Israel and Islamic milita/guerrilla forces, including Hezbollah, ISIS, and Palestinian groups, including Ansar Allah. Also, as Hezbollah became increasingly involved in the Syrian Civil War as allies of the Assad regime, Israel began conducting air and missile strikes on Hezbollah and Syrian targets, mostly inside Syria, but also on occassion on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Israel's stated goal in these airstrikes is to prevent high-end weaponry from Iran and Syria to make its way into Hezbollah hands.

Tensions between Israel and Hezbollah continue to be high, with both sides actively and publicly preparing for a future war that both assume will happen eventually.

Combat Studies Institute --Operation Peace for Galilee. From Globalsecurity.org

Israeli navy commander resigning over failure in 2006 Lebanon war

1982 Lebanon War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Olmert: We were attacked by a sovereign country: YNetnews--video clip of Prime Minister Olmert speaking about the July 12 Hezbollah attack. 7-12-06

Eight IDF soldiers killed, 2 kidnapped on northern frontier:Jul. 12, 2006 9:37-The Jerusalem Post article in which Prime Minister Olmert calls the Hezbollah attack an "act of war." 7-12-06

Israel, Hezbollah Vow Wider War: At Least 66 Dead in Lebanon; Militia Strikes Warship at Sea--Washington Post 7-15-06

From Wikipedia:

Military operations of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict

Timeline of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict

Hizbullah's real goal is racist: To free the Middle East holy lands of Jews--By Alan M. Dershowitz --Opinion piece from the Christian Science Monitor

Bint Jbeil: Hezbollah heartland --BBC article on a Hezbollah stronghold

Israeli Media

Yedioth Ahronoth - Israel at War

Israel Insider - Security


Haaretz - Lebanon crisis


Lebanese Media

Lebanon under Siege - Lebanese government

Roadmap to Victory - The Center for Democracy in Lebanon

History Will Judge Us All On Our Actions--by Michel Aoun in The Wall Street Journal-July 31, 2006

Lebanon Live News --Lebanese television station


Hezbollah Media

Al-Manar TV - Hezbollah television station.

Israeli Blogs

The Muqata — Israel@War: Special Edition at the Mukataa blog

Israel North blog - A compilation of blogs by Russian-speaking residents of northern Israel, translated into English

Kishkushim — Written mainly by Carmia, a resident of Haifa

Idan Gazit — A New York born Israeli immigrant


Lebanese Blogs

BloggingBeirut.com — Finkployd's and other's regular war dispatches from Beirut, as featured in the New York Times

Live from Lebanon Diaries — "Commentary, analysis, human rights and development information, and diaries from on the ground"

Lebanese Political Journal — In-depth analysis on the political situation in Lebanon


Israeli Losses

Lebanese/Hezbollah Losses

95 soldiers killed

345 soldiers wounded

2 captured soldiers (later returned after their deaths)

1 warship damaged

1 tank destroyed

41civilians killed

1,293 civilians wounded

300,000 civilians have been displaced by the fighting


as of 8-12-06

1,130 Lebanese civilians killed

3,600 Lebanese civilians wounded

800,000 civilian refugees displaced by the fighting

36 Lebanese Army soldiers killed

100 Lebanese Army soldiers wounded

400 Lebanese Army soldiers captured

65 Hezbollah troops killed

(Israel claims to have killed 530 guerillas)

20 Hezbollah troops captured

as of 8-12-06

PREDECESSOR: (Related conflicts that occurred before)

1948 Arab-Israeli War (1948-1949)

Suez/Sinai War (1956)

1967 Arab-Israeli War (1967)

War of Attrition (1968-1970)

1973 Arab-Israeli War (1973)

Jordanian Civil War (1970)

CONCURRENT: (Related conflicts occurring at the same time)

Israel-Palestinian Conflict (1964-Present)

Lebanese Civil War (1975-1991)

Israel-Lebanon Conflict (1978-Present)

Syrian Intervention in Lebanon (1975-Present)

U.S. Intervention in Lebanon (1982-1984)

Second Persian Gulf War (1990-1991)

No-Fly Zone War (1991-2003)

SUCCESSOR: (Related conflicts that occur later)


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