2006 Lebanon War


2006 Lebanon War
2006 Lebanon War
Part of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict and Arab-Israeli conflict
Date 12 July – 14 August 2006
Israeli blockade of Lebanon ended on 8 September 2006
Location Lebanon, northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories[1]
Result Both sides claim victory
  • Hezbollah victory according to Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, and groups sympathetic to Hezbollah[2][3][4]
  • Israeli military victory according to Israel, the United States and political parties opposed to Hezbollah[5][6][7]
  • Ceasefire 8:00 AM (5:00 AM GMT) on 14 August 2006, provisioned by UNSC Resolution 1701
  • UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army are introduced into South Lebanon.
Belligerents
 Israel Hizbollah3.tif Hezbollah
Flag of the Amal Movement.svg Amal[8]
SSNP
Flag of the Lebanese Communist Party.svg LCP[9]
PFLP-GC[10]
Commanders and leaders
Israel Ehud Olmert
Israel Amir Peretz
Israel Dan Halutz
Israel Moshe Kaplinsky[11]
Israel Udi Adam
Israel Eliezer Shkedi
Israel David Ben Ba'ashat
Hizbollah3.tif Hassan Nasrallah
Hizbollah3.tif Imad Mughniyeh
Flag of the Amal Movement.svg Nabih Berri
Ali Qanso
Flag of the Lebanese Communist Party.svg Khaled Hadadi
Pflp-gc-logo.JPG Ahmed Jibril
Strength
10,000 soldiers (30,000 soldiers in the last few days) (+ IAF & ISC)[12][13] 3,000 active fighters (5,000–10,000 in the last few days)
10,000 reservists[14][15]
Casualties and losses
Israel Defense Forces:

121 killed
(including 2 captured bodies)
628 wounded[16]

Hezbollah militia:

Dead:
250 (Hezbollah claim)[17]
≤500 (Lebanese officials' est.)[18]
500 (UN officials' est.)[19]
600 (IDF claim)[20]
Wounded:
1,500 (Lebanese officials' est.)[18]
Captured: 13[21] (9 released)
Amal militia: 17 dead
LCP militia: 12 dead
PFLP-GC militia: 2 dead


Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps: ~6-9 dead (Lebanese officials' est.)[22][23]
Lebanese Army and Police Forces: 43 dead[8]

Israeli civilians:

44 dead[24][25]
33 seriously wounded
68 moderately wounded
1,388 lightly wounded[26]


Lebanese civilians:
1,191[27] dead
4,409 wounded[27]


Foreign civilians:
53 dead[28]
25 wounded


United Nations:
5 dead
12 wounded[29]

For total casualty figures, see: Casualties of the 2006 Lebanon War
Smoke over Haifa, Israel, after a rocket launched by Hezbollah hit the city near Bnei-Zion hospital

The 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War and known in Lebanon as the July War[30] (Arabic: حرب تموز‎, Ḥarb Tammūz) and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War (Hebrew: מלחמת לבנון השנייה‎, Milhemet Levanon HaShniya),[31] was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon, northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. 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 militants from the group Hezbollah 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.[32] The ambush left three soldiers dead. Two additional soldiers, believed to have been killed outright or mortally wounded, were taken by Hezbollah to Lebanon.[32][33][34] Five more were killed in a failed rescue attempt. Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon that damaged Lebanese civilian infrastructure, including Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport ,[35] an air and naval blockade,[36] 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.[37]

The conflict killed at least 1,200 people, mostly Lebanese citizens,[38][39][40] severely damaged Lebanese civil infrastructure, and displaced approximately one million Lebanese[41] and 300,000–500,000 Israelis.[26][42][43] After the ceasefire, some parts of southern Lebanon remained uninhabitable due to Israeli unexploded cluster bomblets.[44]

On 11 August 2006, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved UN Resolution 1701 in an effort to end the hostilities. The resolution, which was approved by both Lebanese and Israeli governments the following days, called for disarmament of Hezbollah, for withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon, and for the deployment of Lebanese soldiers and an enlarged United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the south. UNIFIL was given an expanded mandate, including the ability to use force to ensure that their area of operations wasn't used for hostile activities, and to resist attempts by force to prevent them from discharging their duties.[45] The Lebanese army began deploying in southern Lebanon on 17 August 2006. The blockade was lifted on 8 September 2006.[46] On 1 October 2006, most Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon, though the last of the troops continued to occupy the border-straddling village of Ghajar.[47] In the time since the enactment of UNSCR 1701 both the Lebanese government and UNIFIL have stated that they will not disarm Hezbollah.[48][49][50] The remains of the two captured soldiers, whose fates were unknown, were returned to Israel on 16 July 2008 as part of a prisoner exchange.

Contents

Background

Cross-border attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) date as far back as 1968, and followed Israel's forceful occupation of additional Arab territory the previous year; the area became a significant base for attacks following the arrival of the PLO leadership and its Fatah brigade following their 1971 expulsion from Jordan. Starting about this time, increasing demographic tensions related to the Lebanese National Pact, which had divided governmental powers among religious groups throughout the country 30 years previously, began running high and led in part to the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). Concurrently, Syria began a 29 year military occupation in 1976. Israel's 1978 invasion of Lebanon failed to stem the Palestinian attacks, but Israel invaded Lebanon again in 1982 and forcibly expelled the PLO.[51] Israel withdrew to a borderland buffer zone in southern Lebanon, held with the aid of proxy militants in the South Lebanon Army (SLA).[52] The invasion however, also led to the conception of a new Shi'a militant group, which in 1985, established itself politically under the name Hezbollah, and declared an armed struggle to end the Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory.[53][54] When the Lebanese civil war ended and other warring factions agreed to disarm, both Hezbollah and the SLA refused. Ten years later, Israel withdrew from South Lebanon to the UN-designated and internationally recognized Blue Line border in 2000.[55]

The withdrawal also led to the immediate collapse of the SLA, and Hezbollah took control of the area in rapid succession. Later citing continued Israeli control of the disputed Shebaa farms region and the internment of Lebanese prisoners in Israel, Hezbollah intensified its cross-border attacks, and used the tactic of seizing soldiers from Israel as leverage for a prisoner exchange in 2004.[56][dead link][57]

Abduction efforts in the year prior to conflict

In June 2005, an Israel Defense Forces paratroop unit operating near the Shebaa Farms engaged three Lebanese it identified as Hezbollah special force members, killing one. Videotapes recovered by the paratroopers contained footage of the three recording detailed accounts of the area and "fooling around".[58]

Over the following 12 months, Hezbollah made three unsuccessful attempts to abduct Israeli soldiers. On 21 November 2005, a number of Hezbollah special forces attempted to attack an Israeli outpost in Ghajar, a village straddling the border between Lebanon and the Golan Heights. The outpost had been deserted following an intelligence warning, and three of the Hezbollah militants were killed when Israeli sniper David Markovich shot a rocket-propelled grenade they were carrying, causing it to explode. From his sniper position, Markovich shot and killed a fourth gunman shortly thereafter.[58][59]

Beginning of conflict

Zar'it-Shtula incident map
Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser, one of the two captured Israeli soldiers

At around 9 AM local time on 12 July 2006, Hezbollah launched diversionary rocket attacks toward Israeli military positions near the coast and near the border village of Zar'it[60] as well as on the Israeli town of Shlomi and other villages.[61] Five civilians were injured.[62] Six Israeli military positions were fired on, and the surveillance cameras knocked out.[63] At the same time, a Hezbollah ground contingent infiltrated the border into Israel through a "dead zone" in the border fence, hiding in an overgrown wadi. They attacked a patrol of two Israeli armoured Humvees patrolling the border near Zar'it, using pre-positioned explosives and anti-tank missiles, killing three soldiers, injuring two, and capturing two soldiers (Master Sergeant Ehud Goldwasser and First Sergeant Eldad Regev).[60][64] In response to the Hezbollah feint attacks, the IDF conducted a routine check of its positions and patrols, and found that contact with two jeeps was lost. A rescue force was immediately dispatched to the area, and confirmed that two soldiers were missing after 20 minutes. A Merkava Mk III tank, an Armored personnel carrier, and a helicopter were immediately dispatched into Lebanon. The tank hit a large land mine, killing its crew of four. Another soldier was killed and two lightly injured by mortar fire as they attempted to recover the bodies.[60][63]

Hezbollah named the attack "Operation Truthful Promise" after leader Hassan Nasrallah's public pledges over the prior year and a half to seize Israeli soldiers and swap them for four Lebanese held by Israel:

  • Samir Kuntar (a Lebanese citizen captured during a terrorist attack in 1979, convicted of murdering civilians and a police officer);
  • Nasim Nisr (an Israeli-Lebanese citizen tried and convicted for spying by Israel);
  • Yahya Skaf (a Lebanese citizen whom Hezbollah claims was arrested in Israel, Israel denies);[65][66]
  • Ali Faratan (another Lebanese citizen whom Hezbollah claims to be held in Israel).

Nasrallah claimed that Israel had broken a previous deal to release these prisoners, and since diplomacy had failed, violence was the only remaining option.[65] Nasrallah declared: "No military operation will return the Israeli captured soldiers...The prisoners will not be returned except through one way: indirect negotiations and a trade of prisoners."[67]

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described the seizure of the soldiers as an "act of war" by the sovereign state of Lebanon,[68][69] stating that "Lebanon will bear the consequences of its actions"[70] and promising a "very painful and far-reaching response."[71] Israel blamed the Lebanese government for the raid, as it was carried out from Lebanese territory and Hezbollah had two ministers serving in the Lebanese cabinet at that time.[72] In response, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora denied any knowledge of the raid and stated that he did not condone it.[73][74] An emergency meeting of the Lebanese government reaffirmed this position.[75]

The Israel Defense Forces attacked targets within Lebanon with artillery and airstrikes hours before the Israeli Cabinet met to discuss a response. The targets consisted of bridges and roads in Lebanon, which were hit to prevent Hezbollah from transporting the abductees. An Israeli airstrike also destroyed the runways of Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport.[76] 44 civilians were killed.[77] The Israeli Air Force also targeted Hezbollah’s long range rocket and missile stockpiles destroying most of them on the ground in the first days of the war.[78][79] A large portion were destroyed in the first 34 minutes.[63]

Later that same day (12 July 2006), the Cabinet decided to authorize the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister and their deputies to pursue the plan which they had proposed for action within Lebanon. Prime Minister Olmert's officially demanded that the Israel Defense Force avoid civilian casualties whenever possible.[80] Israel's chief of staff Dan Halutz said, "if the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years"[81] while the head of Israel's Northern Command Udi Adam said, "this affair is between Israel and the state of Lebanon. Where to attack? Once it is inside Lebanon, everything is legitimate -- not just southern Lebanon, not just the line of Hezbollah posts."[81] On 12 July 2006, the Israeli Cabinet promised that Israel would "respond aggressively and harshly to those who carried out, and are responsible for, today's action".[82] The Cabinet's communiqué stated, in part, that the "Lebanese Government [was] responsible for the action that originated on its soil."[82] A retired Israeli Army Colonel explained that the rationale behind the attack was to create a rift between the Lebanese population and Hezbollah supporters by exacting a heavy price from the elite in Beirut.[83]

On 16 July, the Israeli Cabinet released a communiqué explaining that, although Israel had engaged in military operations within Lebanon, its war was not against the Lebanese government. The communiqué stated: "Israel is not fighting Lebanon but the terrorist element there, led by Nasrallah and his cohorts, who have made Lebanon a hostage and created Syrian- and Iranian-sponsored terrorist enclaves of murder."[84]

When asked in August about the proportionality of the response, Prime Minister Olmert stated that the "war started not only by killing eight Israeli soldiers and abducting two but by shooting Katyusha and other rockets on the northern cities of Israel on that same morning. Indiscriminately." He added "no country in Europe would have responded in such a restrained manner as Israel did."[85]

Hezbollah action

Map showing some of the Israeli localities attacked by rockets fired from Lebanese soil as of Monday 7 August.
Structural damage of a residential building in Kiryat Shmona after being hit by a rocket

During the campaign, the Hezbollah rocket force Hezbollah fired between 3,970 and 4,228 rockets at a rate of more than 100 per day, unprecedented since the Iran-Iraq war.[86][87] About 95% of these were 122 mm (4.8 in) Katyusha artillery rockets, which carried warheads up to 30 kg (66 lb) and had a range of up to 30 km (19 mi).[87][88] An estimated 23% of these rockets hit cities and built-up areas across northern Israel, while the remainder hit open areas.[86][87][89] Cities hit were Haifa, Hadera, Nazareth, Tiberias, Nahariya, Safed, Shaghur, Afula, Kiryat Shmona, Beit She'an, Karmiel, Acre, and Ma'alot-Tarshiha, as well as dozens of towns, kibbutzim, moshavim, and Druze and Israeli-Arab villages. The northern West Bank was also hit.[86][87][89][90][91][92][93]

Hezbollah engaged in guerrilla warfare with IDF ground forces, fighting from well-fortified positions, often in urban areas, and attacking with small, well-armed units. Hezbollah fighters were highly trained, and were equipped with flak jackets, night-vision goggles, communications equipment, and sometimes with Israeli uniforms and equipment. An Israeli soldier who participated in the war said that Hezbollah fighers were "nothing like Hamas or the Palestinians. They are trained and highly qualified. All of us were kind of surprised".[94] During engagements with the IDF, Hezbollah concentrated on inflicting losses on the IDF, believing that an unwillingness to absorb steady losses to be Israel's strategic weakness.[95] However, Hezbollah sustained greater losses than the IDF during ground engagements.

Hezbollah countered IDF armor through the use of sophisticated Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). According to Merkava tank program administration, 52 Merkava main battle tanks were damaged (45 of them by different kinds of ATGM), missiles penetrated 22 tanks, but only 5 tanks were destroyed, one of them by an improvised explosive device (IED). The Merkava tanks that were penetrated were predominantly Mark II and Mark III models, but five Mark IV tanks were also penetrated. All but two of these tanks were rebuilt and returned to service. The IDF declared itself satisfied with the Merkava Mark IV's performance during the war. Hezbollah caused additional casualties using ATGMs to collapse buildings onto Israeli troops sheltering inside.[89] As a result, IDF units did not linger in any one area for an extended period of time.[94] Hezbollah fighters often used tunnels to emerge quickly, fire an anti-tank missile, and then disappear again.[94]

After the initial Israeli response, Hezbollah declared an all-out military alert. Hezbollah was estimated to have 13,000 missiles at the beginning of the conflict.[96] Israeli newspaper Haaretz described Hezbollah as a trained, skilled, well-organized, and highly motivated infantry that was equipped with the cream of modern weaponry from the arsenals of Syria, Iran, Russia, and China.[97] Hezbollah's satellite TV station Al-Manar reported that the attacks had included a Fajr-3 and a Ra'ad 1, both liquid-fuel missiles developed by Iran.[98][99][100]

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah defended the attacks, saying that Hezbollah had "started to act calmly, we focused on Israel[i] military bases and we didn’t attack any settlement, however, since the first day, the enemy attacked Lebanese towns and murdered civilians — Hezbollah combatants had destroyed military bases, while the Israelis killed civilians and targeted Lebanon's infrastructure."[101] Hezbollah called on the Arabs of the Israeli city of Haifa to flee,[102] and continued launching rockets into northern Israel.[103]

According to a UN report, approximately around mid-July 2006, the Somalian Islamic Courts Union (ICU) sent about 720 men to Lebanon to fight alongside Hezbollah against the Israeli military. In exchange for the contribution of the Somali military force, Hezbollah arranged for additional support to be given to ICU by the governments of Iran and Syria. However, doubts on the accuracy of this UN report have been raised by both The New York Times, The Jamestown Foundation and initial Israeli reaction.[104][105]

Israeli action

During the campaign Israel's Air Force flew more than 12,000 combat missions, its Navy fired 2,500 shells, and its Army fired over 100,000 shells.[89] Large parts of the Lebanese civilian infrastructure were destroyed, including 400 miles (640 km) of roads, 73 bridges, and 31 other targets such as Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport, ports, water and sewage treatment plants, electrical facilities, 25 fuel stations, 900 commercial structures, up to 350 schools and two hospitals, and 15,000 homes. Some 130,000 more homes were damaged.[106][107][108][109] The strikes focused on Hezbollah bases, command centers, rocket launching positions, long-range rocket stockpiles, arms storages, vehicles, and Lebanese military bases, which were often hidden inside civilian areas. The strikes caused significant casualties among Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army, and destroyed most of Hezbollah's long-range missiles on the ground, along with a portion of its unguided short-range rockets. The Israelis launched several successful commando operations throughout the war, which inflicted significant losses on Hezbollah, and resulted in the capture of military equipment. The IDF's main ground attacks focused on Hezbollah-occupied areas in South Lebanon, and engagements often took place in urban areas. During clashes, Hezbollah losses were greater than those of the Israelis.[110] Israeli forces found and destroyed a large portion of Hezbollah's military infrastructure.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered commanders to prepare civil defense plans. One million Israelis had to stay near or in bomb shelters or security rooms, with some 250,000 civilians evacuating the north and relocating to other areas of the country.[87]

Areas in Lebanon targeted by Israeli bombing, 12 July to 13 August 2006.
Israeli soldiers of the Nahal Brigade leaving Lebanon

Timeline of the conflict

IDF Caterpillar D9N armored bulldozers destroy a Hezbollah bunker.
Hezbollah fighters preparing to launch Multiple Rocket Volley from a mobile platform
IAF bombs Hezbollah's mobile rocket launcher
  • On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah launched rocket attacks on Zar'it, Shlomi, and other areas, wounding five civilians. Hezbollah troops entered Israel and attacked two armoured IDF Humvees with pre-positioned explosives and anti-tank missiles. Three Israeli soldiers were killed in the ground attack, two were wounded, captured, and taken to Lebanon, where they later died of their injuries. Five more soldiers were killed and a tank was destroyed during a failed rescue attempt.[60] Following the operation, Hezbollah fighters tried to attack Israeli border outposts. Several Hezbollah fighters were killed, and the attacks were repulsed.[111] Israel retaliated with air, naval, and artillery attacks on Lebanon, hitting Hezbollah targets, along with transport targets to prevent the soldiers from being moved. The attacks began hours before the Israeli cabinet convened to discuss a response. One Hezbollah fighter and 44 civilians were killed.[112]
  • 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.[113] Aerial attacks also centered on Hezbollah’s long range missile and rocket stockpiles, most of which were destroyed in the first days of conflict.[78][79] Many of the missiles were destroyed in the first 34 minutes. By 8 August, Israeli aerial attacks had destroyed 100 Hezbollah rocket launching platforms, and 11 mobile rocket launchers.[114] 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.[115]
  • On 14 July 2006, the IAF bombed Nasrallah's offices in Beirut.[116] Nasrallah addressed Israel, saying “You wanted an open war, and we are heading for an open war. We are ready for it.”[117] Hezbollah attacked the INS Hanit, an Israeli Navy Sa'ar 5-class corvette off the coast of Lebanon with a what was believed to be a radar-guided C-802 anti-ship missile. Four sailors were killed and the warship was disabled. The ship was repaired and reassumed its combat role in Lebanon three weeks later.[118] An Israeli child and his grandmother were killed by a Hezbollah rocket in Meron.[115] Three Hezbollah Katyusha rockets hit the Israeli military base of Biranit.
  • On 15 July 2006, the Israeli Air Force targeted and destroyed Hezbollah's Headquarters in Haret Hreik, and several offices and residences of senior Hezbollah officials.[114][119] The IDF attacked and destroyed Lebanon’s coastal radars.[120] Israeli helicopter gunships pounded targets in central Beirut. Israeli Navy warships bombarded Beirut's lighthouse and Lebanon's four ports. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz declared martial law throughout Northern Israel. Israel deployed three Patriot missile batteries outside Haifa.[114]
  • 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.[114]
  • On 17 July 2006, some Israeli ground forces briefly advanced 1 kilometer into Lebanon and levelled Hezbollah outposts with armored bulldozers.[121] A Hezbollah rocket attack 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, oil refineries, transport facilities, and military bases.[122][123]
  • On 18 July 2006, Hezbollah hit a hospital in Safed in northern Galilee, wounding eight.[124] An Israeli man in Nahariya was killed by a rocket as he attempted to reach a bomb shelter.[115]
  • On 19 July, Israeli forces made another incursion into Lebanese territory, resulting in fighting with Hezbollah. Four Hezbollah fighters were killed. The IDF claimed that two soldiers were killed, nine wounded, and a tank was damaged by a mortar round. Two Israeli Arab children were killed by a Hezbollah rocket attack on Nazareth.[115] Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes against over 200 Hezbollah targets, including buildings and command posts, vehicles, and rocket launchers. Israeli Navy vessels attacked a Hezbollah structure and rocket-launching sites throughout Southern Lebanon.[125]
  • On 20 July 2006, Four Israeli soldiers were killed and six wounded during fighting in South Lebanon. The IDF claimed that several Hezbollah fighters were killed in the battle. Hezbollah claimed to have destroyed two Israeli tanks, and an armored bulldozer was reportedly destroyed. Meanwhile, Israel carried out 150 airstrikes on Lebanon, targeting Hezbollah structures, bases, headquarters, ammunition warehouses, vehicles, and rockets.[125] Israeli artillery also shelled the Maroun al-Ras area.[126]
  • On 21 July 2006, 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.[127] Two Israeli helicopters crashed into each other over Northern Israel, leaving a soldier dead and three wounded.[128]
  • On 22 July 2006, Israeli aircraft conducted over 90 airstrikes against targets in Lebanon, hitting Hezbollah headquarters and buildings, media facilities, rocket launch sites, and major roads. Hezbollah fired 100 rockets into Israel, injuring 18 people.[129] The IDF's all-Druze Herev Battalion advanced into Lebanon and began operating in Lebanese villages. The Herev Battalion operated in Lebanon for 29 days.
  • 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.[130] 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.[115]
  • 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 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.[131][132]
  • On 25 July 2006, The IAF 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.[133] Four UNIFIL peacekeepers were wounded by crossfire during the fighting, one seriously.[134] 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.[115]
  • On 26 July 2006, the Battle of Bint Jbeil began after Israeli troops pushing into the town were ambushed, resulting in fighting which lasted for several hours, some of it taking place in close quarters.[135] 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.[136] An Israeli soldier was also killed by an anti-tank missile near Maroun al-Ras.[115] 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 did not target UN personnel.[137][138] An Israeli airstrike also scored a direct hit on Hezbollah's missile command center in Tyre.[136]
Satellite photographs of the Haret Hreik, a Hezbollah-dominated neighborhood Dahieh district] of southern Beirut, Lebanon, before and after 22 July 2006. The neighborhood is home to Hezbollah's headquarters. See also high resolution photographs before and "after". Archived from the original on 21 August 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070821013412/http://www.digitalglobe.com/images/qb/beirut_harat_july22_2006_dgwm.jpg. 
  • On 27 July 2006, 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.[139]
  • On 28 July 2006, Israeli Paratroopers killed 20 Hezbollah fighters in Bint Jbeil. The fighters were from Hezbollah's elite forces.[140]
  • On 29 July 2006, 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.[141][142]
  • On 30 July 2006, Israeli airstrikes hit an apartment building in Qana, killing 28 civilians, more than half of them children.[143] The airstrike was widely condemned.
  • On 31 July 2006, Israel announced a 48-hour halt to airstrikes depending on "operational developments" in Lebanon. Israeli airstrikes later hit targets in Southern Lebanon after Hezbollah attacked an Israeli tank, wounding three soldiers.[99] The same day, an IDF intelligence unit successfully hacked into Hezbollah's Al-Manar television station, and broadcast caricatures of Nasrallah accompanied by taunting captions. Additionally, Several Hezbollah and Al-Manar interest sites were erased from the internet by Israeli technical specialists.[144]
  • On 1 August 2006, the IDF confirmed that 3 soldiers were killed and 25 wounded during fighting in Ayta ash Shab. The IDF claimed that 20 Hezbollah fighters were also killed.[145]
  • On 2 August 2006, Israeli commandos of the Air Force's Shaldag Unit ferried by helicopter stormed a Hezbollah stronghold in Baalbek, 62 miles (100 km) from the border. The commando assault was codenamed Operation Sharp and Smooth.[146] 19 Hezbollah fighters were killed, and the commandos also seized military equipment. Israeli Paratroopers battled Hezbollah guerillas in Ayta ash-Shab. Israel claimed that 7 Hezbollah fighters were killed and 10 wounded, while the IDF confirmed that 1 soldier was also killed and 14 wounded during the fighting. Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel killed a man riding his bicycle in Sa'ar, and wounded 160 other civilians.[115]
  • On 3 August 2006, Nasrallah warned Israel against hitting Beirut and promised retaliation against Tel Aviv if the warning wasn't heeded.[147] He also stated that Hezbollah would stop its rocket campaign if Israel ceased aerial and artillery strikes of Lebanese towns and villages.[148] 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.[115]
  • On 4 August 2006, 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.[149] IDF aircraft struck a number of Hezbollah targets throughout Lebanon, and also hit the office of Hamas in Beirut. Thirty of the strikes were meant to disrupt the firing of rockets into Israel. Four Israeli soldiers were killed in Lebanon, three of them by anti-tank fire during operations in the village of Markabeh. During the night, Israeli armor and infantry forces continued operating in the village, wounding seven Hezbollah fighters and destroying a reniforcement vehicle. During operations in Markabeh, IDF forces uncovered weapon storages containing a large amount of weaponry, including anti-tank missiles as well as intelligence information.In Ayta ash-Shab, Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli position, sparking an exchange of fire. An IDF reservist was killed, another severely injured, and twenty others lightly injured.[99][115]
  • 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.[150] Hezbollah mortar fire hit Israeli forces operating in Nabi Al Awadi, killing one soldier, lightly injuring another, and hitting two engineering vehicles. In Hula, Israeli forces exchanged fire with Hezbollah operatives. At least four Hezbollah fighters were killed and a number were wounded. In Bint Jbeil, another eight Hezbollah fighters were killed in exchanges of fire. In Shama and Ayta ash-Shab, forces exchanged fire with Hezbollah fighters, some of them carrying anti-tank missiles. Duirng the night, Israeli troops captured three Hezbollah fighters. The IAF attacked over 80 Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.[99] Throughout the day, Hezbollah rocket attacks hit Israel. 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.[115]
  • On 6 August 2006, 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 on the Port of Haifa.[151] 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.[115] The IAF launched airstrikes, killing at least 12 civilians, one Lebanese Army soldier, and a PFLP-GC militant. Two IDF soldiers were wounded during a firefight in Ras Al-Bayida, during which Hezbollah also sustained casualties. In Beit Leif and Yaron, IDF reserve forces killed four Hezbollah operatives. Five IDF soldiers were injured in Mahbib during operations to locate weapons facilities. IDF forces also destroyed a Hezbollah command center, position, rocket launchers, trucks carrying rockets, and weapons stores. About 30 Hezbollah fighters were killed and additional fighters injured.[99][151][152]
  • On 7 August 2006, Three IDF soldiers and 16 Hezbollah fighters were killed. The IDF also destroyed two Hezbollah trucks and a substantial amount of weaponry.[99][115] The IAF attacked over 150 targets. During the strikes, Israeli aircraft bombed the Shiyyah suburb in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, destroying three apartment buildings in the suburb, killing at least 50 people. The same day, the Israeli Air Force shot down a Hezbollah UAV[153] Three Israeli soldiers were killed during clashes in Bint Jbeil.
  • On 8 August 2006, the IDF claimed that at least 15 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 killed. Another eight were wounded, most of them during the destruction of the ammunition dump.[115][154] IDF intelligence again managed to hack into Hezbollah's Al-Manar station as Hassan Nasrallah was giving a speech, and replaced it with propaganda footage, including images of Hezbollah dead.[155]
  • On 9 August 2006, 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 destroyed by a missile in Ayta ash-Shab. An IDF soldier was also killed and 10 wounded by friendly fire.[115]
  • On 10 August 2006, two Israeli Arabs were killed by a Hezbollah rocket in Shaghur.[115]
  • On 11 August 2006, Hezbollah shot down an Israeli CH-53 Yas'ur helicopter with an anti-tank missile,killing five aircrew members.[156] [157] On the same day an Israeli soldier was killed in an exchange of fire in Rashef.[115]
  • 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.[158][159] 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.[160] Hezbollah claimed the helicopter had been attacked with a Waad missile.[161] 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. Under the cover of intense artillery fire, some Israeli forces reached the Litani River. Hezbollah fired 250 rockets into Israel, killing one civilian.[162]
  • On 13 August 2006, the Israeli Air Force shot down two Hezbollah UAVs one of which was carrying at least 30 kilograms of explosives[163][164] 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.[165] An 84-year old Israeli man was killed by a rocket attack in Ya'ara.[115]
  • On 14 August 2006, the Israeli Air Force reported that it had killed the head of Hezbollah’s Special Forces, whom they identified as Sajed Dewayer, while Hezbollah denied this claim.[166]
  • 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.[167]

Post-ceasefire clashes

  • On 14 August 2006, Hezbollah fired about four mortars just hours after the cease-fire came into effect. IDF troops also killed six armed Hezbollah fighters approaching their positions in four separate incidents. The IDF also continued to destroy captured Hezbollah weapons caches and unexploded rockets.[168][169]
  • On 15 August 2006, IDF troops opened fire on four Hezbollah fighters approaching them, killing three. Hezbollah fired about 10 rockets inside Lebanon, none of them hitting Israel.[170]
  • On 18 August 2006, 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.[171]
  • On 19 August 2006, 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.[172]
  • On 23 August 2006, an Israeli soldier was killed by a mine.[115]

Position of Lebanon

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora

While the Israeli government initially held the Lebanese government responsible for the Hezbollah attacks due to Lebanon's failure to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 and disarm Hezbollah, Lebanon disavowed the raids, stating that the government of Lebanon did not condone them, and pointing out that Israel had a long history of disregarding UN resolutions.[74]

In interviews, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud criticized Israel's attacks and was supportive of Hezbollah, noting Hezbollah's role in ending Israel's previous occupation of southern Lebanon.[173][174] On 12 July 2006, PBS interviewed the Lebanese ambassador Farid Abboud to the United States and his Israeli counterpart. The interview discussed Hezbollah's connection to the Lebanese government.[175]

Israel never declared war on Lebanon,[176][177] and said it only attacked Lebanese governmental institutions which it suspected of being used by Hezbollah.[178] The Lebanese government played a role in shaping the conflict. On 14 July 2006, the office of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora issued a statement that called on US President George W. Bush to exert all his efforts on Israel to stop its attacks in Lebanon and reach a comprehensive ceasefire.[179] In a televised speech the next day, Siniora called for "an immediate ceasefire backed by the United Nations".[180] A US-French draft resolution that was influenced by the Lebanese Siniora Plan and which contained provisions for Israeli withdrawal, military actions, and mutual prisoner release was rejected by the US and Israel. Many Lebanese accused the US government of stalling the ceasefire resolution and of support of Israel's attacks. In a poll conducted two weeks into the conflict, only 8% of the respondents felt that the US would support Lebanon, while 87% supported Hezbollah's fight against Israel.[181] After the attack on Qana, Siniora snubbed US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by cancelling a meeting with her and thanked Hezbollah for its "sacrifices for the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon."[182]

During the war, the Lebanese Armed Forces did not engage in direct hostilities, but threatened retaliation if IDF troops pushed too far northward into Lebanon. In several instances, Lebanese troops fired anti-aircraft weapons at Israeli aircraft and attempted to disrupt landing operations.[183] During the first days of the war, Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr said that "the Lebanese army will resist and defend the country. If there is an invasion of Lebanon, we are waiting for them". However, the Lebanese Army mostly stayed out of the fighting. According to a Time editorial, "to have stood up to the advancing Israeli armored columns would have been suicidal".[184] On 7 August 2006, the 7-point plan was extended to include the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese Army troops to fill the void between an Israeli withdrawal and UNIFIL deployment.[185]

Allegations, accusations and reports of war crimes

Under international humanitarian law, warring parties are obliged to distinguish between combatants and civilians, ensure that attacks on legitimate military targets are proportional, and guarantee that the military advantage of such attacks outweigh the possible harm done to civilians.[186] Violations of these laws are considered war crimes. Various groups and individuals accused both Israel and Hezbollah of violations of these laws during the conflict, and warned of possible war crimes.[187] These allegations included intentional attacks on civilian populations or infrastructure, disproportionate or indiscriminate attacks, the use of human shields, and the use of prohibited weapons. No formal charges have been filed against either group.[188]

Amnesty International called on both Hezbollah and Israel to end attacks on civilians during the conflict,[189] and criticized attacks against civilian villages and infrastructure by Israel.[190] They also highlighted IDF use of white phosphorus shells in Lebanon.[191][192] Human Rights Watch accused both parties of failing to distinguish between civilians and combatants, violating the principle of distinction, and committing war crimes.[40][186][193] Peter Bouckaert, a senior emergencies researcher for Human Rights Watch, stated that Hezbollah was "directly targeting civilians... their aim is to kill Israeli civilians" and that Israel had not taken "the necessary precautions to distinguish between civilian and military targets."[194][195] They criticized Hezbollah's use of unguided Katyusha rockets, and Israel's use of unreliable cluster bombs – both too close to civilians areas – suggesting that they may have deliberately targeted civilians.[186][196] UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said Israel's response violated international humanitarian law, and criticized Hezbollah for "cowardly blending... among women and children."[197]

Israel defended itself by stating that it tried to avoid civilians, and had distributed leaflets calling on civilian residents to evacuate,[198] but that Hezbollah stored weapons in and fired from civilian areas, making those areas legitimate targets,[199] and used civilians as human shields.[200][201][202][203] Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch found cases where Hezbollah did fire rockets from, and store weapons in, populated areas and deploy its forces among the civilian population; however, both say that is not conclusive evidence of the intent to use civilians as human shields.[199][204][205] HRW stated that "the IDF struck a large number of private homes of civilian Hezbollah members during the war, as well as various civilian Hezbollah-run institutions such as schools, welfare agencies, banks, shops and political offices."[206][207] Although Israel maintained that the civilian infrastructure was "hijacked" by Hezbollah and used for military purposes,[208] but Amnesty International identified the destruction of entire civilian neighbourhoods and villages by Israeli forces, attacks on bridges with no apparent strategic value, and attacks on infrastructure indispensable to the survival of the civilian population,[190] and questioned whether the "military advantage anticipated from destroying" civilian infrastructure had been "measured against the likely effect on civilians."[209] They also stated that the Israeli actions suggested a "policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the civilian population."[209]

Al-Jazeera reported at the time: "Foreign journalists based in Lebanon also reported that the Shia militia chose to fight from civilian areas and had on occasion prevented Lebanese civilians from fleeing conflict-hit areas of south Lebanon. Al-Manar, Hezbollah's satellite channel, also showed footage of Hezbollah firing rockets from civilian areas and produced animated graphics showing how Hezbollah fired rockets at Israeli cities from inside villages in southern Lebanon."[210]

Images obtained by the Sunday Herald Sun show that "Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia. The images... show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons. Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon."[211]

On 24 July 2007, Haaretz reported that the official Israeli inquiry into the war "is to include the examination of claims that the IDF committed war crimes during last summer's fighting."[212]

A 6 September 2007 Human Rights Watch report found that most of the civilian deaths in Lebanon resulted from "indiscriminate Israeli airstrikes", and found that Israeli aircraft targeted vehicles carrying fleeing civilians.[213] In a statement issued before the report's release, the human rights organization said there was no basis to the Israeli government's claim that civilian casualties resulted from Hezbollah guerrillas using civilians as shields. Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director, said there were only "rare" cases of Hezbollah operating in civilian villages. "To the contrary, once the war started, most Hizbollah(sic) military officials and even many political officials left the villages" he said. "Most Hizbollah(sic) military activity was conducted from prepared positions outside Lebanese villages in the hills and valleys around." Roth also noted that "Hezbollah fighters often didn’t carry their weapons in the open or regularly wear military uniforms, which made them a hard target to identify. But this doesn’t justify the IDF’s failure to distinguish between civilians and combatants, and if in doubt to treat a person as a civilian, as the laws of war require."[214]

On its final report, issued on 30 January 2008, the Israeli government's Winograd Commission concluded that the Israel Defense Forces did not commit violations or war crimes, as alleged by the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other NGOs. The evidence claims to show that the Israel Defense Forces did not target civilians, in contrast to Hezbollah and to the false allegations by NGOs, and terms like “war crimes” are without basis.[215] This report also found that, "Israel must consider whether it wants to continue using cluster bombs in the future, because its current manner of employing them does not conform to international law."[216]

Casualties

Lebanese civilians

The Lebanese civilian death toll is difficult to pinpoint as most published figures do not distinguish between civilians and Hezbollah combatants, including those released by the Lebanese government.[20] In addition, Hezbollah fighters can be difficult to identify as many do not wear military uniforms.[20] However, it has been widely reported that the majority of the Lebanese killed were civilians, and UNICEF estimated that 30% of Lebanese killed were children under the age of 13.[217]

The Lebanese top police office and the Lebanon Ministry of Health, citing hospitals, death certificates, local authorities, and eye witnesses, put the death toll at 1,123—37 soldiers and police officers, 894 identified victims, and 192 unidentified ones.[20] The Lebanon Higher Relief Council (HRC) put the Lebanese death toll at 1,191,[41] citing the health ministry and police, as well as other state agencies.[20] The Associated Press estimated the figure at 1,035.[20] In February 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that at least 800 Lebanese had died during fighting,[218] and other articles have estimated the figure to be at least 850.[219][220] Encarta states that "estimates... varied from about 850 to 1,200" in its entry on Israel,[221] while giving a figure of "more than 1,200" in its entry on Lebanon.[222] The Lebanon Higher Relief Council estimated the number of Lebanese injured to be 4,409,[41] 15% of whom were permanently disabled.[223]

The death toll estimates do not include Lebanese killed since the end of fighting by land mines or unexploded Israeli cluster bombs.[20] Between the end of the war and November 2008, approximately 40 people were killed and over 270 injured by cluster bombs.[224]

Hezbollah

Hezbollah casualty figures are difficult to ascertain, with claims and estimates by different groups and individuals ranging from 184 to 1,000. However, Hezbollah is known to have sustained heavier casualties than Israel during the conflict. Hezbollah's leadership announced that 250 of their fighters were killed in the conflict,[17] while Israel estimated that its forces had killed 600 Hezbollah fighters.[17][20] In addition, Israel claimed to have the names and addresses of 532 dead Hezbollah fighters.[225] A UN official estimated that 500 Hezbollah fighters had been killed,[19] and Lebanese government officials estimated that up to 500 had been killed and 1,500 wounded.[18] A Stratfor report cited "sources in Lebanon" as estimating the Hezbollah death toll at "more than 700... with many more to go",[226] Meanwhile, British Military Historian John Keegan estimated that as many as 1,000 Hezbollah fighters were killed.[227] A burial count noted 184 funerals of Hezbollah fighters.[228][229] Defense analyst Ben Moores of defence-aerospace.com estimated that Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard lost a combined total of 600-900 killed in action.[230] According to Anthony H. Cordesman and William D. Sullivan, Hezbollah's losses in dead, wounded, and captured operatives were less than 15 percent of the initial force, and most of the dead were part-time fighters.[231]

Con Coughlin of the Daily Telegraph reported that the difficulty in ascertaining an accurate Hezbollah casualty count was due in large part to deliberate attempts by Hezbollah to conceal the true extent of its losses. Citing a “senior security official” he wrote, “Hizbollah(sic) is desperate to conceal its casualties because it wants to give the impression that it is winning its war. People might reach a different conclusion if they knew the true extent of Hizbollah’s (sic) casualties.” In his article, it was claimed that Lebanese security officials disclosed that Iran was compensating the families of Hezbollah dead, and that Hezbollah's operational council had drawn up casualty lists to be sent to Iran, copies of which were obtained by Lebanese newspapers that did not publish them due to Hezbollah pressure. Lebanese officials also disclosed that many of Hezbollah's wounded were secretly hospitalized in Syria after being taken through the al-Arissa border crossing with the assistance of Syrian security forces.[232] Patrick Bishop of the Telegraph reported that Hezbollah’s “culture of secrecy has disguised the true number of its losses – funerals of ‘martyrs’ are being staggered to soften the impact of losses. Some were interred without ceremony for re-burial later.”[233]

Other Lebanese militias

The Amal movement, a militia that fought alongside Hezbollah, suffered 17 dead. The Lebanese Communist Party, which chose to fight with Hezbollah, suffered 12 dead. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, a Palestinian militia that also fought alongside Hezbollah, lost two fighters.[8]

Lebanese military casualties

Though rarely engaged in combat, 43 Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers and policemen were killed and 100 were wounded, most of them in Israeli strikes on military bases.[8]

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps casualties

Some media outlets citing Lebanese sources reported that the bodies of as many as nine Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers killed in the fighting were transported to Syria for burial in Iran.[22][23] Aviation Week reported that papers recovered from the bodies of soldiers killed in Southern Lebanon on 9 Aug. identified them as members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.[234] Defense analyst Ben Moores of defense-aerospace.com stated that Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen were among the 600 to 900 anti-Israeli fighters killed during the conflict.[235]

Israel Defense Forces

A total of 121 IDF soldiers were killed in the war, including the two soldiers whose bodies were seized in the Zar'it-Shtula incident that started the war, whose fates weren't confirmed until their bodies were exchanged for Lebanese prisoners in 2008.[26][236]

Israeli civilians

Israeli civilians killed by Hezbollah rocket attacks, 12 July-13 August 2006. Blue - Jews, Green - Sunni Muslims, Pink - Christians, Lavender - Druze

Most Israeli civilians fled the region or took refuge in bomb shelters as Hezbollah fired rockets.[199] Hezbollah rockets killed 43 Israeli civilians during the conflict,[25] including four civilians who died of heart attacks as a direct result of the rocket attacks.[236] At least 18 of those killed were Israeli Arabs[237][238] The last civilian victim was an Israeli-Arab man who died on August 30, 2007, from injuries sustained in a rocket attack on Haifa.[239] In addition, 4,262 civilians were injured–33 seriously wounded, 68 moderately, 1,388 lightly, and 2,773 suffered from shock and anxiety.[26] According to Human Rights Watch, "These bombs may have killed 'only' 43 civilians, but that says more about the availability of warning systems and bomb shelters throughout most of Northern Israel and the evacuation of more than 350,000 people than it does about Hezbollah's intentions."[240]

Environmental and archeological damage

Image from space showing Jiyyeh oil slick in darkest blue, picture centered on Beirut. The largest oil spill in the history of the Mediterranean, it was caused by an Israeli air strike on Jiyeh power station[241] 10 August 2006

On 13 July 2006, and again on 15 July 2006, the Israeli Air Force bombed the Jiyeh power station, 30 km (19 mi) south of Beirut, resulting in the largest ever oil spill in the Mediterranean Sea.[241] The plant's damaged storage tanks leaked an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 tonnes (more than 4 million gallons) of oil into the eastern Mediterranean.[241][242] A 10 km (6 mi) wide oil slick covered 170 km (105 statute miles) of coastline,[243][244] and threatened Turkey and Cyprus. The slick killed fish including the northern bluefin tuna, a species already nearing extinction in the Mediterranean, and threatened the habitat of the endangered green sea turtle.[245] It also potentially increased the risk of cancer in humans. An additional 25,000 tons of oil burned at the power station, creating a "toxic cloud" that rained oil downwind.[241] The Lebanese government estimated it would take 10 years to recover from the damage of the strike. The UN estimated the cost for the initial clean-up at $64 million.[42]

A burnt forest in northern Israel caused by Hezbollah rockets.[246]

Hezbollah rocket attacks caused numerous forest fires inside northern Israel, particularly on the Naftali mountain range near Kiryat Shmona.[246] As many as 16,500 acres (67 km²) of land, including forests and grazing fields, were destroyed by Hezbollah rockets.[247] The Jewish National Fund estimated that it would take 50 to 60 years to rehabilitate the forests.[248]

Israeli bombing also caused significant damage to the world heritage sites of Tyre and Byblos. In Tyre a Roman tomb was damaged and a fresco near the centre of the site collapsed. In Byblos, a medieval tower was damaged and Venetian period remains near the harbour were dramatically stained by the oil slick and were considered to be difficult to clean. Damage was also caused to remains at Bint Jbeil and Chamaa, and to the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek.[249][250][251][252]

Cluster munitions

Both sides used cluster bombs during the conflict. Israel fired 4.6 million submunitions into dozens of towns and villages in southern Lebanon in 962 separate strikes, the vast majority within the final days of the war. Israel claimed to have warned civilians prior to a strike, and that firing was limited to open areas or military targets inside urban areas.[253] Israel used advanced cluster munitions produced by Israel Military Industries, and large numbers of older cluster bombs, some produced in the 1970s, purchased from aging American stockpiles. These were fired by multiple rocket launchers, 155mm artillery guns, and dropped by aircraft. As many as 1 million submunitions failed to explode on impact, lingering as land mines that killed or maimed almost 200 people since the war ended.[254] As of 2011, munitions were still causing casualties and being cleared by volunteers.[255]

Hezbollah fired 4,407 submunitions into civilian-populated areas of northern Israel in 113 separate strikes, using Chinese made Type-81 122mm rockets, and Type-90 submunitions. These attacks killed one civilian and wounded twelve.[256]

Psychological warfare

During the war, the IAF dropped 17,000 leaflets over Lebanon in 47 missions, and sent more than 700,000 computerized voice messages. Many of them contained caricatures of Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah leading Lebanon to ruin and making civilians suffer, showing them as puppets of Iran and Syria, and calling on civilians to help remove Hezbollah. Another leaflet addressing Hezbollah fighters told them that they were lied to by their leaders, that they were "sent like sheep to be butchered, lacking military training and without proper combat gear", that they could not hope to face "highly trained soldiers that fight to protect their homeland, their people, and their home", referring to them as "mercenaries" without the support of the Lebanese public, and urging them to run and save their lives. On 26 July, Israel dropped leaflets containing illustrations of nine tombstones with the name of a dead Hezbollah fighter on each one, in response to Nasrallah "deceiving" people on the amount of Hezbollah casualties. Another leaflet urged Hezbollah fighters to stop bleeding and fighting for Nasrallah, who sat safe in a bunker, to stop fighting against Lebanese national interests, and to return to their homes and families. On 11 August, Israel dropped leaflets accusing Hezbollah of hiding its "great losses", and containing the names of 90-100 Hezbollah fighters killed. Israeli technicians also hacked into Al-Manar and broadcast clips, criticizing Nasrallah, showing the bodies of Hezbollah fighters, footage from Israeli raids and airstrikes, and captured Hezbollah equipment.[257]

International action and reaction

A Lebanese protest in Sydney

The conflict engendered worldwide concerns over infrastructure damage and the risks of escalation of the crisis, as well as mixed support and criticism of both Hezbollah and Israel.[citation needed] The governments of the United States,[258] United Kingdom, Germany,[259] Australia, and Canada asserted Israel's right to self-defense. The United States government further responded by authorizing Israel's request for expedited shipment of precision-guided bombs, but did not announce the decision publicly.[260] United States President George W. Bush said he thought the conflict was part of the "War on Terrorism".[261][262] On 20 July 2006, the United States Congress voted overwhelmingly to support Israel's "right to defend itself".[263]

A Pro-Lebanon Anti-War protest in New York City

Among neighboring Middle Eastern nations, Iran, Syria, and Yemen voiced strong support for Hezbollah, while the Arab League, Egypt, and Jordan issued statements criticizing Hezbollah's actions[264] and declaring support for Lebanon.[265] Saudi Arabia found Hezbollah entirely responsible.[266] Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain agreed with the Saudi stance that Hezbollah's actions were "unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts."[265]

Many worldwide protests and demonstrations appealed for an immediate ceasefire on both sides and expressed concern for the heavy loss of civilian life on all sides. Other demonstrations were held exclusively in favor of Lebanon or Israel. Numerous newspaper advertising campaigns, SMS and email appeals, and online petitions also occurred.[267][268]

Various foreign governments assisted the evacuation of their citizens from Lebanon.[269]

Ceasefire

Terms for a ceasefire had been drawn and revised several times over the course of the conflict, yet successful agreement between the two sides took several weeks. Hezbollah maintained the desire for an unconditional ceasefire,[270] while Israel insisted upon a conditional ceasefire, including the return of the two seized soldiers.[271] Lebanon frequently pled for the United Nations Security Council to call for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. John Bolton confirmed that the US and UK, with support from several Arab leaders, delayed the ceasefire process. Outsider efforts to interfere with a ceasefire only ended when it became apparent Hezbollah would not be easily defeated.[272]

On 11 August 2006 the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved UN Security Council Resolution 1701, in an effort to end the hostilities. It was accepted by the Lebanese government and Hezbollah on 12 August 2006, and by the Israeli government on 13 August 2006. The ceasefire took effect at 8:00 AM (5:00 AM GMT) on 14 August 2006.[273]

Before the ceasefire, the two Hezbollah members of cabinet said that their militia would not disarm south of the Litani River, according to another senior member of the Lebanese cabinet,[274] while a top Hezbollah official similarly denied any intention of disarming in the south. Israel said it would stop withdrawing from Southern Lebanon if Lebanese troops were not deployed there within a matter of days.[275]

Reviews of the conflict

Following the UN-brokered ceasefire, there were mixed responses on who had gained or lost the most in the war. Iran and Syria proclaimed a victory for Hezbollah[276] while Olmert declared that the war was a success for Israel.[5]

Lebanon

A sign erected after the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon war in South Lebanon which displays rockets and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

At the outbreak of hostilities, Prime Minister Fuad Saniora promised to rein in Hezbollah in an effort to stop Israel’s offensive. Saniora said that there could be no sovereign state of Lebanon without the group’s disarming. The former President of Lebanon Amin Gemayel, a longtime critic of Hezbollah said, "Hezbollah took a unilateral action, but its repercussions will affect the entire country."[277] The war deepened the longtime divide in Lebanon over Hezbollah's role. Many admired the organization for being the sole group to fight against Israel. Others considered it to be a dangerous militia that executes Iran and Syria policies in Lebanon. The divide over Hezbollah followed mostly sectarian lines, with Shias largely supporting the group and Sunnis, Christians and Druse mostly opposing it.[277]

A poll in July 2006 showed that 80 per cent of Lebanese Christians, 80 per cent of Druze and 89 per cent of Sunnis supported Hezbollah, a Shia Muslim group.[278]

On 27 August 2006, Nasrallah stated, "Had we known that the capture of the soldiers would have led to [the war], we would definitely not have done it." This was the day before UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's visit to Lebanon.[279]

On 22 September 2006, some eight hundred thousand Hezbollah supporters gathered in Beirut for a rally at which Nasrallah stated that Hezbollah had achieved a "divine and strategic victory."[280][281][282]

Israel

Within hours of Israeli's bombing of Lebanon on 13 July 2006, hundreds of protesters gathered in Tel Aviv to oppose the war.[283] On 22 July, about 2,000 people, including many Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, demanded an end to the offensive during a protest march in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square.[284] On 5 August, some Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv, including former Knesset members of the Meretz party, Mossi Raz, Naomi Hazan and Yael Dayan.

Initially, in a poll by an Israeli radio station, Israelis were split on the outcome with the majority believing that no one won.[285] By 25 August, 63% of Israelis polled wanted Olmert to resign due to his handling of the war.[286] The Jerusalem Post said that " if you fail to win, you lose" and that as "Hezbollah survived, it won the war."[287]

Olmert admitted to the Knesset that there were mistakes in the war in Lebanon,[288] though he framed UN Security Council resolution 1701 as an accomplishment for Israel that would bring home the captured soldiers, and said that the operations had altered the regional strategic balance vis-à-vis Hezbollah.[289] The Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz admitted to failings in the conflict.[290] On 15 August, Israeli government and defense officials called for Halutz' resignation following a stock scandal in which he admitted selling stocks hours before the start of the Israeli offensive.[291] Halutz subsequently resigned on 17 January 2007.

On 21 August, a group of demobilized Israel reserve soldiers and parents of soldiers killed in the fighting started a movement calling for the resignation of Olmert and the establishment of a state commission of inquiry. They set up a protest tent opposite the Knesset and grew to over 2,000 supporters by 25 August,[292] including the influential Movement for Quality Government.[292][293] On 28 August, Olmert announced that there would be no independent state or governmental commission of inquiry, but two internal inspection probes, one to investigate the political echelon and one to examine the IDF, and likely a third commission to examine the Home Front, to be announced at a later date. These would have a more limited mandate and less authority than a single inquiry commission headed by a retired judge.[294] The political and military committees were to be headed by former director of Mossad Nahum Admoni and former Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, respectively. Critics argued that these committees amount to a whitewash, due to their limited authority, limited investigatory scope, their self-appointed basis, and that neither would be headed by a retired judge.[295]

Due to these pressures, on 11 October, Admoni was replaced by retired justice Eliyahu Winograd as chair of the political probe, and the probe itself was elevated to the status of governmental commission with near-state commission mandate: the Winograd Commission. On 12 September, former defense minister Moshe Arens spoke of "the defeat of Israel" in calling for a state committee of inquiry. He said that Israel had lost "to a very small group of people, 5000 Hezbollah fighters, which should have been no match at all for the IDF", and stated that the conflict could have "some very fateful consequences for the future."[296] Disclosing his intent to shortly resign, Ilan Harari, the IDF's chief education officer, stated at a conference of senior IDF officers that Israel lost the war, becoming the first senior active duty officer to publicly state such an opinion.[297] IDF Major General Yiftah Ron Tal, on 4 October 2006 became the second and highest ranking serving officer to express his opinion that the IDF failed "to win the day in the battle against Hezbollah" as well as calling for Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz' resignation.[298] Ron-Tal was subsequently fired for making those and other critical comments.[299]

However, Eyal Zisser, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, took a contrary position and expressed the view that the war was in fact a strategic success for Israel and a Hezbollah defeat. He noted that Hezbollah had "lost about a third of its elite fighting force" and that "despite mistakes made by the IDF in conducting the military campaign, Israeli soldiers triumphed in every face-to-face battle with Hezbollah." He concluded that "as time passes, the severity of the blow suffered by Lebanon and its people from the 2006 war becomes clear."[300]

Zisser's view was shared by Dutch-Israeli military historian and author Martin van Creveld who argued that Hezbollah “had the fight knocked out of it,” lost hundreds of its members and that the organization was “thrown out of South Lebanon,” replaced by “a fairy robust United Nations peacekeeping force.” He also stressed that as a result of the war, Israel is experiencing a level of calm on the Lebanon border not seen in over four decades.[301]

In 2008, Ehud Barak, the replacement defense minister for Peretz, stated that the conflict failed to disarm Hezbollah, and that the group is increasingly entrenched in South Lebanon, further stating that "Hezbollah is stronger than ever and has more rockets than at the outbreak of the Lebanon war in the summer of 2006"[302] but he later noted that "[Israeli] deterrence still exists."[303] The IDF's Northern Command cited this deterrence as one reason Hezbollah did not fire any rockets into Israel during Operation Cast Lead.[304]

In March 2007, the Committee decided to name the war the "Second Lebanon War", a decision that was subsequently approved by the Israeli cabinet.[305]

Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld stated that the war was a strategic Israeli victory and a setback for Hezbollah, and criticized the Winograd Commission for its failure to mention the many successes achieved by Israel's military campaign. He noted that hundreds of Hezbollah fighters were killed in the war, and that the organization had "the fight knocked out of it", since following the war, Israel experienced a level of calm on its Lebanon border not seen since the mid-1960s. He also noted that Hezbollah was "thrown out of South Lebanon", and was replaced by "a fairly robust United Nations peacekeeping force" to prevent its return. He also said that there were a number of Israeli failures in the war, including the failure to terminate hostilities earlier and with fewer casualties.[306]

IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror highlighted the number of Hezbollah militants killed, the quick military response to Hezbollah's long-range rocket attacks, the post-war replacement of Hezbollah by the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL in southern Lebanon, and Iran's loss of Hezbollah as a deterrent against an Israeli first strike following the war.[307] Thomas Friedman concurred, stating that the war was a "huge strategic loss for Hezbollah", and contrasted the billions in damage suffered by Hezbollah and Lebanon with the "relatively minor damage" suffered by Israel, which enjoyed an economic "growth spurt" immediately following the war.[308]

Winograd Commission Report

According to the Winograd Commission Report, the Second Lebanon War was regarded as a "missed opportunity" and that "Israel initiated a long war, which ended without a defined military victory". The report continued to state that "a semi-military organization of a few thousand men resisted, for a few weeks, the strongest army in the Middle East, which enjoyed full air superiority and size and technology advantages". Furthermore, Hezbollah's rocket attacks continued throughout the war and the IDF did not provide an effective response to it. Following a long period of using standoff fire power and limited ground activities, the IDF launched a large scale ground offensive close to the UN Security Council's resolution which imposed a cease-fire. "This offensive did not result in military gains and was not completed".

Later in the Report, the Commission stated that "[a] decision [was] made in the night of 12 July to react (to the capturing) with immediate and substantive military action and to set... ambitious goals." This decision had immediate repercussions in that subsequent decisions were limited mainly to a choice between a) "a short, painful and unexpected blow on Hezbollah" and b) "to bring about a significant change of the reality in the South of Lebanon with a large ground operation,[occupying]...the South of Lebanon and 'cleaning' it of Hezbollah". "The fact Israel went to war before it decided which option to select and without an exit strategy, all these constituted serious failures of the decision making process."

As for achievements, the Commission reported that "SC resolution 1701, and the fact that it was adopted unanimously, were an achievement for Israel."[309]

Rest of the world

In the aftermath of the conflict US President George Bush said that Hezbollah was responsible for starting the war, and that the group suffered a defeat at the hands of Israel.[310] He dismissed claims of victory by Hezbollah leaders, asking: "how can you claim victory when at one time you were a state within a state, safe within southern Lebanon, and now you're going to be replaced by a Lebanese Army and an international force?"[310] In his 2010 memoir, Decision Points, Bush wrote that Israel had weakened Hezbollah and secured its northern border, but that Israel's "shaky military performance" cost it international credebility. He also said that Israel "mishandled" its opportunity, and that some of the sites it attacked were of "questionable military value".[311]

George W. Bush declared that Hezbollah lost the war and that "There's going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon"[312]

In a speech given on 15 August 2006, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed that the Arab resistance against Israel would continue to grow stronger, saying, "Your weapons, warplanes, rockets and even your atomic bomb will not protect you in the future."[313]

The Economist magazine concluded that by surviving this asymmetrical military conflict with Israel, Hezbollah effectively emerged with a military and political victory from this conflict. They cite the facts that Hezbollah was able to sustain defenses on Lebanese soil and inflict unmitigated rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in the face of a punishing air and land campaign by the IDF.[314]

Matt M. Matthews, a military historian at the Combat Studies Institute of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College praised Hezbollah paramilitaries and reflected on what he described as "the lackluster performance of the IDF." He attributed this to several factors including (Lieutenant-General and Chief of the IDF General Staff) Halutz’s steadfast confidence in air power coupled with continuing COIN operations against the Palestinians at the expense of training for major combat operations.[315]

The US Congressional Research Service found that although Hezbollah’s military capabilities may have been substantially reduced, its long-term potential as a guerrilla movement appeared to remain intact: "Observers note that Hezbollah’s leaders have been able to claim a level of 'victory' simply by virtue of not having decisively 'lost'."[316]

British military historian John Keegan stated that the outcome of the war was "misreported as an Israeli defeat" due to anti-Israel bias in the international media. He concluded that Hezbollah had suffered heavy losses, and that a cease-fire came into effect before Israel could completely dislodge Hezbollah from its positions. He also stated that the casualties sustained by Israel during the war had alarmed the Israeli Government and High Command because Israel's small population is acutely vulnerable to losses in battle.[227]

Charles Krauthammer, a syndicated columnist and political commentator, citing an interview by which Nasrallah admitted that he would not have captured the soldiers had he known that it would lead to war, wrote, "Nasrallah's admission, vastly underplayed in the West, makes clear what Lebanese already knew. Hezbollah may have won the propaganda war, but on the ground it lost. Badly." He noted that Hezbollah's entrenched infrastructure along Israel's border was shattered and would not be easily rebuilt due to the presence of the Lebanese Army and a robust UNIFIL force, hundreds of Hezbollah's best fighters were killed in the war, and that many Lebanese were angry with Hezbollah for provoking a war which largely devastated the country.[317]

Michael Young, opinion page editor at the Lebanese Daily Star newspaper, stated that Hezbollah turned "the stench of defeat into the smell of victory," through clever use of its propaganda machine. He suggested that Hezbollah had "hoodwinked" pundits who believed that Hezbollah was victorious, and opined that "one dreads to imagine what Hezbollah would recognize as a military loss."[318]

American military strategist and historian Edward Luttwak drew comparisons with the 1973 Yom Kippur War, where what initially looked like an Israeli setback later turned out to be an IDF victory and an Arab defeat. He stated that although some IDF tanks were penetrated by missiles, they also largely limited IDF casualties, and that Hezbollah had failed to inflict massive losses on the IDF and to kill large numbers of Israelis in rocket attacks.[319]

Cambridge professor and Peterhouse Fellow Brendan Simms summed up the war this way; "Hezbollah have suffered a setback (but are too clever to admit it) and the Israelis have scored a long-term success (but are too narrow-minded to realize it)."[320]

Journalist Michael Totten wrote that "Hezbollah lost and Hezbollah knows it." He questioned why Hezbollah did not attack Israel when the IDF attacked Hamas in Gaza in 2008, and noted that most of Nasrallah’s supporters "want Hezbollah to deter Israeli invasions, not to invite Israeli invasions". Totten concluded that Nasrallah's boasts "play well in much of the Arab world", but that the 2006 "victory" seemed "empty at home."[321]

The Young Turks, an American talk show, reviewed the war as an Israeli military victory, and a Hezbollah propaganda victory. Cenk Uygur pointed out that Israel had managed to drive back Hezbollah and create an 18-mile (29 km) buffer zone in South Lebanon, while Hezbollah managed to win the propaganda war because it was able to keep fighting on the ground and continue firing rockets into Israel until the war's end.[322]

Financial repercussions

The fighting resulted in a huge financial setback for Lebanon, with an official estimate of a fall in growth from +6% to 2% and US$5 Billion (22% of GDP)[323] in direct and indirect costs, while the cost for Israel was estimated at US$3.5 billion.[324] Indirect costs to Israel include a cut in growth by 0.9%.[325] and the cost to tourism was estimated at 0.4% of Israel's GDP in the following year.[326] According to one analyst in the Associated Press, the main casualty was the fragile unity between Lebanon's sectarian and political groups,[327] though an Asia Times piece points to Free Patriotic Movement head Michel Aoun's support for Hezbollah and provision of housing for Shi'a refugees as evidence for strengthened relations.

Media controversy

A 2007 report entitled "War to the Last Moment": The Israeli Media in the Second Lebanon War by the Israeli media monitoring NGO Keshev (trans. "Awareness")[328] found that the Israeli media "except for a few exceptional instances...covered the war in an almost entirely mobilized manner" serving more to support the goals of the Israeli government and IDF than to objectively report the news. "The media created a general atmosphere of complete and absolute support and justification of the war, and systematically suppressed questions that arose as early as the first day of fighting... The criticism gradually increased toward the end of the war-as it became clearer that the IDF was not managing to win. But the general spirit of the war coverage, in the broad strategic sense, as utterly uncritical." Keshev's report documents a post-war memo from the Deputy CEO of Marketing for the Hebrew newspaper Maariv to Maariv employees which states, in part, that

Even when we had problematic material related to the management of the war...we restrained ourselves. In a certain sense, we betrayed our role as journalists, but we did so because we took national, patriotic considerations into account and decided that in the event of war, and certainly a war which was not progressing as it should and was going awry, we were part of the Country; that it was permissible, and even required of us, to postpone disputes and criticism; and that we did not have to apologize, or to feel abashed, for our support and backing of the Army and the Government.

[329]

In the beginning of the war, according to the report, "significant coverage of the decision-making process was almost entirely absent in Israel's media".[329] The media also marginalized reports on Israelis living in the North who did not receive proper governmental support and harped on the question of the loyalties of Arab-Israelis in the North instead of focusing on inadequate provision of services by the state.[329]

While the Israeli media reported on Lebanese suffering, it divorced this suffering from the IDF operations which caused it.[329] With regard to diplomacy, the media buried the stories on negotiations to reflect the derision held by decision-makers toward a diplomatic solution.[329]

Several media commentators and journalists have alleged an intentionally distorted coverage of the events, in favour of Hezbollah, by means of photo manipulation, staging by Hezbollah or by journalists, and false or misleading captioning.[330]

On 18 July 2006 Hezbollah Press Officer Hussein Nabulsi took CNN's Nic Robertson on an exclusive tour of southern Beirut. Robertson noted that despite his minder's anxiety about explosions in the area, it was clear that Hezbollah had sophisticated media relations and were in control of the situation. Hezbollah designated the places that they went to, and the journalists "certainly didn't have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath." According to his reports, there was no doubt that the bombs were hitting Hezbollah facilities, and while there appeared to be "a lot of civilian damage, a lot of civilian properties," he reiterated that he couldn't verify the civilian nature of the destroyed buildings.[331]

CNN's Charlie Moore described a Hezbollah press tour of a bombed-out area in southern Beirut on 23 July 2006 as a "dog-and-pony show" due to perceived staging, misrepresentation of the nature of the destroyed areas, and strict directives about when and with whom interviews could take place.[332]

In the same interview aired on 23 July 2006, CNN's John Roberts, who was reporting from an Israeli artillery battery on the Lebanese border, stated that he had to take everything he was told — either by the IDF or Hezbollah — "with a grain of salt," citing mutual recriminations of civilian targeting which he was unable to verify independently.[331]

Reuters withdrew over 900 photographs by Adnan Hajj, a Lebanese freelance photographer, after he admitted to digitally adding and darkening smoke spirals in photographs of an attack on Beirut.[333]

Photographs submitted to Reuters and Associated Press showed one Lebanese woman mourning on two different pictures taken by two photographers, allegedly taken two weeks apart.[334] It is "common practice to send more than one photographer to an incident".[335]

Post-ceasefire events

In the days following the 14 August 2006 ceasefire, Hezbollah launched dozens of rockets and mortars inside southern Lebanon, which Israel did not respond to, though there were several instances where Israeli troops killed armed Hezbollah members approaching their positions.[336][337][338] Israeli warplanes continued conducting numerous flyovers and maneuvers above southern Lebanon, which Israel said did not violate the ceasefire.[339][340] On 19 August 2006, Israel launched a raid in Lebanon's eastern Beqaa Valley it says was aimed at disrupting Hezbollah's weapons supply from Syria and Iran.[341] Lebanese officials "said the Israelis were apparently seeking a guerrilla target in a school."[172][342][343][344][345] Israel's aerial and commando operations were criticised by Kofi Annan as violations of the ceasefire, which he said they had conducted the majority of, and he also protested the continued embargo. France, then leading UNIFIL, also issued criticism of the flyovers, which it interpreted as aggressive.[346] Israel argued that “[t]he cease-fire is based on (UN resolution) 1701 which calls for an international arms embargo against Hezbollah,” and said the embargo could be lifted after full implementation of the cease-fire[341] but Annan said that UNIFIL would only interdict arms at Lebanon's request.[347][348] On 7 September 2006 and 8 September 2006 respectively, aviation and naval blockades were lifted.[349] In the second half of September Hezbollah claimed victory and asserted an improvement in their position, and they redeployed to some positions on the border[350][351] as Israel completed its withdrawal from Lebanon save border-straddling Ghajar.[352][353][354][355][356][357]

On 3 October, an Israeli fighter penetrated the 2-nautical-mile (4 km) defence perimeter of the French frigate Courbet without answering radio calls, triggering a diplomatic incident.[358]

On 24 October, six Israeli F-16s flew over a German Navy vessel patrolling off Israel's coast just south of the Lebanese border. The German Defence Ministry said that the planes had given off infrared decoys and one of the aircraft had fired two shots into the air, which had not been specifically aimed. The Israeli military said that a German helicopter took off from the vessel without having coordinated this with Israel, and denied vehemently having fired any shots at the vessel and said "as of now" it also had no knowledge of the jets launching flares over it. Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz telephoned his German counterpart Franz Josef Jung to clarify that 'Israel has no intention to carry out any aggressive actions' against the German peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, who are there as part of UNIFIL to enforce an arms embargo against Hezbollah. Germany confirmed the consultations, and that both sides were interested in maintaining good cooperation.[359][360][361]

On 1 December 2006, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan submitted a report to the Security Council president maintaining "there were no serious incidents or confrontations" since the cease-fire in August 2006. He did, however, note that peacekeepers reported air violations by Israel "almost on a daily basis," which Israel maintained were a security measure related to continuing Syrian and Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah, and evidence of the presence of unauthorized armed personnel, assets, and weapons in Lebanon.[362] In one case, a UNIFIL demining team was challenged by two Hezbollah members in combat uniforms armed with AK-47 rifles; UNIFIL notified the Lebanese army, who arrested three suspects the next day.[362] There were also "13 instances where UNIFIL came across unauthorized arms or related material in its area of operation", including the discovery of 17 katyusha rockets and several improvised explosive devices in Rachaiya El-Foukhar, and the discovery of a weapons cache containing seven missiles, three rocket launchers, and a substantial amount of ammunition in the area of Bourhoz.[362][363] Annan also reported that as of 20 November 2006, 822 Israeli cluster bomb strike sites had been recorded,[363] with 60,000 cluster bomblets having been cleared by the UN Mine Action Coordination Center.[364]

The months after the hostilities saw major upheaval in the Israeli military and political echelon, with the spate of high-ranking resignations including Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz,[365] and calls for resignations of many cabinet-members including Prime-Minister Ehud Olmert following publication of the Winograd Commission's findings.[366] The Winograd report severely criticized Olmert, accusing him of a "severe failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and caution." Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora criticized the Winograd report for failing to report on the full destruction dealt to Lebanon by the brief July War of 2006.[367]

After the war, the Lebanese Army deployed 15,000 soldiers, backed by a UNIFIL force of 12,000, deployed South of the Litani River to replace Hezbollah, although the Lebanese government said that it cannot and will not disarm Hezbollah by force. On 7 February 2010, the Lebanese Army fired at an Israeli bulldozer on the border, and Israeli forces returned fire. There were no reported casualties. Lebanon claimed that the bulldozer had crossed the border and entered Lebanese territory. In June 2007, Lebanese troops fired at an Israeli UAV over Tyre with small arms, causing no damage.[368]

On 30 June 2007, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's fourth report on the implementation of SC Resolution 1701 fingered Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah for violating the ceasefire, but called the firing of rockets into Israel by unknown elements "the most serious breach of the cessation of hostilities since the end of the war." The report commended Israel on its restraint following this attack, and commended Lebanon for its continued efforts to disarm armed groups. It further stated that in spite of "flexibility by Israel beyond the framework of UNSC-Resolution 1701, implementation of the resolution's humanitarian aspects has not yet been possible."[369]

On 12 February 2008, Imad Mugniyah, the head of Hezbollah’s military wing, was assassinated by a car bomb in Damascus.[370] The Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, was widely believed to be behind the assassination. Although Israel officially denied involvement, Mugniyah had been the target of previous Mossad assassination attempts.[371] Israel considered Mugniyah a "significant force behind actions against Israel".[372]

On 14 July 2009, an explosion in Khirbat Silim, a Lebanese village near the Lebanon-Israel border, killed eight Hezbollah militants. Israel and the United Nations stated that the explosion was a hidden Hezbollah weapons cache, and condemned Hezbollah for violating Resolution 1701. The Lebanese government stated that the explosion was caused by IDF munitions left following the 2006 war.[373][374] Hezbollah blamed the explosion on leftover shells that had been collected following Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.[375] A Kuwaiti newspaper, al-Seyassah, reported that the ammunition warehouse stored chemical weapons.[376]

On 23 August 2009, the IDF published a video it said showed villagers from Marwakhin, a village in Southern Lebanon, "forcefully resisting" efforts by Hezbollah militants to store weapons in their village.[377]

On 4 November 2009 Israeli navy commandos of Shayetet 13 boarded the ship MV Francop in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and seized 500 tons of Iranian armaments disguised as civilian cargo. Israel said the weapons were bound for Hezbollah and originated from Iran.[378] Hezbollah disavowed any connection to the contraband and accused Israel of “piracy.”[379]

In May 2010, the Lebanese Army fired anti-aircraft artillery at two Israeli jets over Lebanon.[380]

In 2010, French UNIFIL forces warned that they could in the future attack Israeli jets with anti-aircraft batteries if Israel continued its overflights of Lebanese airspace.[381]

In 4 August 2010, a clash on the border occurred when the Israel military tried to remove a tree from between the border and the border fence on Israeli territory. According to the Israeli's, the tree was blocking the view of one of their video cameras at the border. The Lebanese army fired at the Israeli forces and there was a clash for a few hours. In the ensuing clash, one Israeli soldier died as well as two Lebanese soldiers and one Lebanese journalist. There were also a number of injured military soldiers and civilians on both sides including Lebanese journalists.[382]

Prisoner swap

On Wednesday 16 July 2008, in accordance with the mandates of Resolution 1701, Hezbollah transferred the coffins of captured Israeli soldiers,[383] Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, in exchange for incarcerated Palestine Liberation Front militant Samir Kuntar, four Hezbollah militants captured by Israel during the war, and bodies of about 200 other Lebanese and Palestinian militants held by Israel.[384] Until that time, Hezbollah had refused to provide information on Goldwasser and Regev.

See also

References

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