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Just When You Thought It Was Over

Lebanon, Part 6: (2006 – 2013)

By Laura Fawaz, Contributing Reporter


2006 – Israeli Children | The girl wrote: “I waited for this moment for so long…”

2005 ended with hope for a peaceful future for Lebanon; now that the Islamic resistance movement, known as Hezbollah, evicted Israeli forces out of southern Lebanon in May 2000.

The country was on its way to stability, rebuilding the homes and infrastructure that were blown up by Israeli missiles.  Syria’s claim for their presence in Lebanon was to put an end to the internal violence, as well as to be the unifying factor in the torn state of Lebanon.  So a year after the eviction of Israeli troops, in June 2001, Syria withdrew 6,000 of their troops from Beirut.  About 20,000 still remain in northern and eastern Lebanon, which is the border that they share.  Syria itself, which had controlled most of the non-occupied territories, did not withdraw the rest of its troops until 2005.  It only did so after being pressured out by powerful diplomatic intervention from the United States and the United Nations.

Yet, it just so happens that in the following year, Israel invaded Lebanon once again.  This war later became known as the July War.  To make matters worse, since it was in the summer, families of Lebanese descent, from all-over the world, were there visiting.  One of those families had a daughter, whom we spoke with, and wishes to be anonymous, so we’ll just call her Ann.  She was 19 years old at the time, and staying in the southern village of Tibnine.  “We were sitting on the porch drinking tea when out of nowhere we heard a blast, and saw smoke in the distance,” said Ann.

“We didn’t know what was going on, but all I knew was that this was an all too familiar reality for my family living in Lebanon,” Ann said.

The specific attacks leading to yet another war depend on whom you ask.  Though the most common recollection is regarding the large number of prisoners of war.  Israel had five prisoners of war; Lebanon had approximately 360 prisoners of war, and Palestine had over 6,800 prisoners of war.  There was an agreement between Israel and Hezbollah that the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) would release an agreed upon number of not only Lebanese prisoners of war, but the Palestinian ones as well; in exchange for all of the five that Hezbollah had.  But for whatever reason, Israel did not follow through with this agreement, thus leading to the next course of retaliation.  On July 12th, 2006, Hezbollah fighters crossed into Israel and attacked an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) patrol, capturing soldiers. 

Hezbollah’s leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, stated that, “Upon kidnapping the two Israeli soldiers, we were ready for any kind of war.  We were waiting for it and believing it had been delayed.  The Resistance was neither confused nor worried, but had clear strategy battle, because it had been prepared deliberately,” according to www.almanar.com.

He continued with, “While in Bint Ja Bail, the decision was to remain and fight till the end, and to prevent the Israelis from entering the town.”

They then returned to Southern Lebanon with their prisoners. Sayed Nasrallah, said the men were taken in order to set up the prisoner exchange with Israel that was promised, but never acted on.  Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, declared the attack to be an “act of war” on Lebanon’s part, and promised a strong response.  They delivered on that response, literally.  Literally, because in the early days of this war, images were spread throughout the world of missiles that were sent from Israel into Lebanon.  On these missiles were messages from Israelis of all ages, but mostly young girls, and included messages such as “I waited for this moment for so long.”

After going to the wreckage site caused by these missiles, another discovery was found along with the messages on them, it was the American flag.  So for a country that is already untrusting of western influences, specifically American involvement, discovering this USA flag only deepened the distrust.  To make matters worse, people such as Ann who were caught in the cross fire, were stuck.  Since there were so many families from every part of the world there visiting, every county made huge efforts of getting their people out, except America.  “I can remember sitting in the basement of the hospital, our shelter, and watching rescue teams from countries such as France, coming in to retrieve their people.  So we sat and waited for our rescue team.  It was hours, then days, which with bombs flying over you, felt like years,” described Ann.

Israeli Prime Minister Ohud Olmert ordered attacks to all of southern Lebanon, at any cost.  Thus, without any direction of massive bombs and missiles, over 1,300 Lebanese were killed.  These were children, women, elders, and even infants.  The economical loss to Lebanon was in approximate number of $1.6 billion.  But still in the end, Israel failed to meet its objective of “getting rid of Hezbollah in a week” as Prime Minister Olmert promised America it would.

After Hezbollah’s alleged cross-border raid, Israel attacked Lebanese infrastructure, from bridges, airport, ports, depots, to hospitals.  Hezbollah responded by launching hundreds of rockets into northern Israel, but one attack stands out amongst the rest.  It was during a speech given by Sayed Nasrallah that was also being televised all-over the world.  He discussed the need for strength and resistance against oppression of all kinds.  And with the high amount of Lebanese civilian casualties, he reassured the people that Hezbollah would free the land of Lebanon of all occupiers.  In speeches given in the previous days, he urged Israel to stop their attacks to avoid further retaliation.  Israel knew that they were supported and financed by America, so they did not take Hezbollah seriously.  So in his speech, Sayed Nasrallah directed everyone’s attention to the Mediterranean Sea that could be seen in the distance.  And at that very second, an Israeli warship ten miles off the Lebanese coast was rammed into and exploded. 

The Israeli strategy seemed two-fold: cut off Hezbollah from any aid, as well as from its suppliers and allies in Syria and Iran, while also striking Lebanese infrastructure targets with no apparent connection to Hezbollah.  Israel hoped to show the Lebanese government and people that Hezbollah brought death and destruction to their county, hoping that this lesson would turn popular opinion against the resistance group.  The opposite effect seems to have taken hold, however, with most Lebanese, Muslims and non, increasing their support for Hezbollah.  Even Lebanese Christians, normally not friendly to Islamic parties, blamed Israel for attacking civilian targets as an act of punishment.  While this political and psychological goal failed, Israel also failed to stop Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns.  In the end this small Lebanese resistance group, Hezbollah, declared victory in this 34-day war.  But this definitely was not the end for Israeli offensives, or even of the Lebanese saga. 

This whole article covered only the summer of 2006.


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