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CIAO Focus, August 2006: Israel’s War with Hizballah

On July 12, Hizballah launched a provocative cross-border raid into Israel, capturing two Israeli soldiers and killing eight. Israel responded with a ferocity not seen since its 1982 invasion of Lebanon, destroying critical parts of the country’s infrastructure and killing hundreds of civilians. Hizballah has attacked Israel’s northern cities with a barrage of Iranian-made missiles, some of which have the potential to reach Tel Aviv.

Hizballah’s leadership claims the kidnappings were intended to facilitate the release of three Lebanese prisoners being held in Israel, but it is more than likely that the group’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, had a wider agenda in mind when he ordered the assault. By provoking Israel into war and standing its ground, Hizballah has both vastly increased its regional prestige and sidestepped pressures to disarm as stipulated in UN Resolution 1559.

Uprooting Hizballah will prove difficult if not impossible for the Israeli Defense Forces. Unlike Al-Qaeda, a rogue terrorist group, and unlike the PLO, a foreign entity that Israel succeeded in ejecting from Lebanon in 1982, Hizballah is an indigenous political movement with a mass following of 1.5 million Shiites. Even if Israel succeeds in temporarily neutralizing Hizballah’s military capability, Nasrallah could still conceivably emerge from the war as Lebanon’s most powerful man. On the other hand, if Israel can somehow force a cease-fire on its own terms with the kind of international force it wants deployed to a buffer zone in southern Lebanon, this would constitute a significant setback for Hizballah.

This month CIAO examines Israel’s war with Hizballah and its implications for the Middle East.


From the CIAO Database:

Israel/Palestine/Lebanon: Climbing Out of the Abyss

Lebanon: Finding a Path from Deadlock to Democracy

Hizballah Rising: The Political Battle for the Loyalty of the Shi’a of Lebanon

Lebanon: Managing the Gathering Storm

The Political Economy of Postwar Reconstruction in Lebanon

Islamism in Lebanon: A Guide


Outside Links*:

Informed Comment (Juan Cole)

Hizballah: A Primer

A Country Study: Lebanon (Library of Congress)

UN Resolution 1559

UNIFIL Press Releases

Lebanon Under Siege: How the Current Crisis Began (Interactive Guide),,1807749,00.html

The Israel Democracy Institute



* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine.