The Israel Lebanon War is not simply one war between these two neighbouring nations, it is in fact a term used for a series of three main conflicts that Lebanon and Israel have had with one another in recent times.
The first of the three Israel Lebanon War’s occurred in 1978 with the second in 1982 and what will surprise many is the last was only in 2006, so in very recent times.
Lebanon has long been a hotbed of Palestinian refugees, while most are just like any other person there are a small minority that are radical in their views and feel Israel should not exist. These individuals are part of the Palestine Liberation Organization (otherwise known as the PLO).
In March 1978 a group of eleven PLO members made their way to Haifa in Israel where they managed to hijack a bus. This bus was hijacked for only one reason, murder. By the end of the hijacking the PLO militants had killed all 37 people on the bus while 9 of the hijackers also perished. This act of terrorism became known as the Coastal Road massacre.
Israel decided to act straight away in light of this terrorist action. On the 14th March, only three days after the massacre, Israel sent 25,000 Israeli troops into Southern Lebanon where they took control of all areas in the south.
The PLO forces never actually fought the Israeli forces in Lebanon as the PLO were waiting for the Israeli’s at the Litani River, where the PLO thought the Israeli army would stop given the name of the operation. The Israeli’s never ventured this far north.
Within days the UN passed a UN Security Council Mandate called Resolution 425 stating the immediate removal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. The UN was to then establish a UN backed interim force.
Israel left Lebanon and used the South Lebanese Army (SLA) as a puppet to complete its work for them.
1982 Lebanon War
On the 6th June 1982 Israel decided to invade Lebanon once more, again it was in retaliation for attacks from the PLO. This war was just under a year in length.
In this war the Israeli army ventured all the way to Beirut and laid siege to the city. The war was so intense that 17,000 Lebanese civilians died during the conflict.
The only reason Israel withdrew into south Lebanon and ceased fighting was because of a peace treaty brokered by America on the 27th May 1983. This was brokered because it was felt by the international community that PLO leader Yasser Arafat was growing in stature and power because of the war.
2006 Lebanon War
The 2006 Lebanon War was not related to the PLO; in fact it involved another terrorist organization called Hezbollah.
It was the 12th July in the year 2006 when Hezbollah carried out the Zar’it-Shtula incident. This incident involved rocket attacks on Israeli military positions before crossing the border between Lebanon and Israel and surprising two Israeli military vehicles. This attack that left two Israeli soldiers dead and two captured.
The next day Hezbollah demanded the release of key prisoners by Israel in a trade for the two Israeli soldiers.
Israel decided to take the offensive and start a massive attack on Lebanon with airstrikes and artillery firing on specific targets. This was followed up by the Israeli army once again moving into South Lebanon.
In total 42 Israeli’s died in the conflict with 1,500 Lebanese dying and over a million becoming refugees.
The UN once again got involved and brokered a ceasefire on the 14th August 2006.