2006 Lebanon War

Known in Lebanon as the July War and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War. This military conflict began on July 12, 2006 when Hezbollah militants ambushed an Israeli army border patrol in a cross border raid, kidnapping two Israeli soldiers and killing three others. Context to the attack includes the ongoing conflict related to Sheba’a Farms, a small stretch of land bordering Israel, Syria and Lebanon, which Israel controls but Hezbollah claims is Lebanese. Hezbollah spokespersons described the kidnapping as a strategy to secure the release of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Five more Israeli soldiers died in an operation to rescue the abducted soldiers. During the 34-day war that followed, Israel’s military actions targeted Lebanese infrastructure and Hezbollah bases and also widely damaged civilian areas, killing at least 1,109 Lebanese (the vast majority civilians) and displacing an estimated one million. 119 Israeli soldiers were killed during the fighting. Israel also implemented a blockade of the entire Lebanese coast. Concurrently, Hezbollah launched hundreds of missiles into northern Israel, killing 43 Israeli civilians and causing 300,000-500,000 Israelis to flee from the north of the country. A United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect on August 14, 2006, though the Israeli naval blockade of Lebanon lasted until September 8. Hezbollah remained largely intact after the war, despite Israel’s stated goal of neutralizing the party. An Israeli government panel, called the Winograd Committee, concluded that the war had been a "big and serious failure" for Israel, in part because it undermined Israel’s military deterrence. See "Civilians under Assault: Hezbollah’s Rocket Attacks on Israel in the 2006 War" Human Rights Watch, August 2007; and "Why They Died: Civilian Casualties in Lebanon during the 2006 War," Human Rights Watch, September 2007.

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