FAQ: The Second Lebanon War-One year later

FAQ: The Second Lebanon War-One year later


The war began with Hizbullah's unprovoked cross border attack and bombardment on 12 July 2006, killing eight IDF soldiers and kidnapping two.

Memorial service to IDF soldiers who fell in Second Lebanon War. Mount Herzl, Jerusalem-July 2007 (IDF Spokesman)

1.     What was the background to the Second War in Lebanon?
What is Hizbullah?

3.     How did the Second War in Lebanon begin?
Why didn't Israel show restraint and use diplomacy before resorting to force?

5.     Did Israel conduct military operations against Lebanon?
Was Hizbullah an ill-equipped guerrilla force?

7.     What damage did Hizbullah's bombardment cause to Israeli civilian targets?
How did Israel respond to the bombardment of its northern cities?

9.     Were Israeli attacks directed against legitimate military targets?
Were attacks on Lebanese infrastructure justified?

11.   Why is Hizbullah ultimately responsible for harm to Lebanese civilians?
Who is responsible for harm to civilians located near legitimate military targets?

13.   Did Israel use proportionate force?
Why did the Israeli military operation last a month?
Why did Israel commit ground troops when it has stated that it has no designs on Lebanese territory?

16.   What did Israel do to protect Lebanese civilians and foreign nationals from their operations against Hizbullah?
Wasn't Israel concerned about the mounting number of civilian casualties?
Did Israel target a residential building in Kafr Qana, killing 28 civilians?
What has Israel done to make sure the Qana incident doesn’t repeat itself?

20.   Did Israel use weapons prohibited by international law?

21.   Why did the IDF bomb a UN post, resulting in the death of four UN soldiers?

22.   It appears that Israel faced a two-front conflict. Are the two fronts in fact connected?
Why did Israel expect the government of Lebanon to take action after having demonstrated years of inaction and ineffectiveness?

24.   Why does Israel say that Syria and Iran are involved in the Hamas and Hizbullah terrorism?
What motivates Hamas and Hizbullah, and why do Syria and Iran support them?
If Syria and Iran are behind the terrorism, why is Israel attacking Lebanon?
How will Israel pressure Syria and Iran to stop supporting terrorism?

28.   What is UN Security Council Resolution 1701?
How does Israel view Security Council Resolution 1701?

30.   What did Israel accomplish in its operation against the Hizbullah?

1. What was the background to the Second War in Lebanon?

Any analysis of the recent conflict in Lebanon must take into consideration broader events in that country over the preceding decades. During the past 24 years, the Hizbullah terrorist organization has created a veritable "state within a state" in Lebanon, amassing an enormous modern arsenal, tons of ammunition and thousands of highly trained fighters.

On 24 May 2000, the Government of Israel completed the withdrawal of its forces from southern Lebanon to the international border between the two countries, in complete accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425. The primary objective of this action was to ensure the security of Israel and its citizens, and to promote stability and peace in the region. It was meant to bring about an end to the on-going terrorism and confrontation on the northern border, and to facilitate further progress in the peace process.

Israel had no territorial aspirations in Lebanon, and hoped to see the Lebanese government restore and exercise its sovereignty throughout the border region from which Israeli forces had left. However, this full withdrawal, confirmed by the United Nations, was not accompanied by the deployment of Lebanese armed forces throughout the country as required by the Resolution. Indeed, the entrenchment of Hizbullah continued apace.

Subsequent to Israel’s withdrawal in 2000, Hizbullah took over all of southern Lebanon, using it as a base to perpetrate terrorist attacks against Israel. Hizbullah claimed responsibility for numerous raids targeting Israeli civilians, including children.

Hizbullah also initiated cross-border shelling aimed at the Har Dov area. For example, during October 2000, just months after Israel’s withdrawal to the UN sanctioned "Blue Line" border, Hizbullah terrorists crossed into Israel and kidnapped three IDF soldiers. They were taken to Lebanon and held captive, with no information made available regarding their condition. Their bodies were eventually returned to Israel, having been held as bargaining chips for over three years.

Hizbullah continued to carry out attacks on Israel. On 12 March 2002, a Hizbullah shooting on the road from Shlomi to Metzoba claimed five Israeli civilian lives. From 30 March to 13 April 2002, mortar and Katyusha missile fire, unleashed by Hizbullah, wounded Israeli children and other civilians. On 10 August 2003, 16 year-old Haviv Dadon of Shlomi was killed by an anti-aircraft shell fired by Hizbullah terrorists.

On 9 January 2005 a Hizbullah roadside bomb attack killed one IDF soldier. On 14 and 17 January 2005 Hizbullah detonated explosives along the border. On 29 June 2005 a heavy exchange of fire between Hizbullah and Israeli forces resulted in the death of one IDF soldier and the wounding of four others. Two Hizbullah gunmen were also killed.

These and other violations of the border, including by Palestinian forces, prompted the UN to call on Lebanon to "double its efforts in order to ensure an immediate halt to serious violations of the Blue Line."

By the summer of 2006, Hizbullah’s armed strength in Lebanon was formidable, with approximately 15,000 men under arms deployed throughout the country. Most were concentrated in southern Lebanon and in southern Beirut, the latter becoming a restricted zone that was off limits to persons unaffiliated with Hizbullah. Tunnels and massive bunkers were carved out underground and reinforced with steel and concrete to resist air strikes. Ammunition was strategically stockpiled, missile batteries were placed in and around civilian centers and command posts were set up. Tons of weapons were brought in from Syria and Iran.

At the same time, Hizbullah prevented the Lebanese government from deploying its army and police in southern Lebanon to take control of this region of sovereign Lebanese territory, as required by UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The arming and entrenching of Hizbullah, as well as its efforts to prevent Lebanese forces from complying with their obligations, were repeatedly noted in the Secretary-General’s reports on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

Hizbullah’s belligerent preparations were accompanied by equally belligerent rhetoric and threats on the part of its leaders. Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah proudly declared his intentions towards Israel in the New York Times, stating on 23 May 2004, "If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."

Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon (May 2000)
Hizbullah attacks along Israel's northern border May 2000 - June 2006
Iranian complicity in the Lebanese crisis - July-Aug 2006

2. What is Hizbullah?

Hizbullah is a radical Shiite Moslem terrorist organization that operates in Lebanon. A key pillar of its extremist ideology is its call for the destruction of Israel through jihad (holy war). Hizbullah's ideology comes from Iran; moreover, it receives military, logistical and economic support from both Iran and Syria. In addition to calling for the destruction of Israel, Hizbullah also calls for a struggle against the United States as part of Hizbullah's desire to foment an Islamic revolution and its ambition to turn Lebanon into an Islamic republic like Iran.

Hizbullah gives support to Palestinian terrorist activities and, to various degrees, is involved in them, including through the smuggling of arms, guidance and training. Thus, Hizbullah's activities not only create tension in the north but add fuel to the fire in the Palestinian conflict against Israel.

Hizbullah has, moreover, been involved in acts of terror against Western targets. Among the attacks attributed to the organization are the 1983 and 1984 bombings of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, the 1983 bombings of the U.S. marine barracks and French unit of the multinational force in Beirut, the 1984 and 1988 hijackings of Kuwaiti airliners, and the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires as well as the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center there.

Hezbollah as a case study of the battle for hearts and minds (IICC)
Hizbullah and Iran behind Buenos Aires bombings
Iranian complicity in the Lebanese crisis - July-Aug 2006

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3. How did the Second War in Lebanon begin?

On 12 July 2006, Hizbullah fighters crossed Israel’s internationally recognized northern border in an ambush which resulted in the deaths of eight IDF soldiers and the kidnapping of two. To provide cover for their carefully orchestrated attack, a barrage of Hizbullah missiles was fired simultaneously at a number of civilian communities across northern Israel.

Kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev of Kiryat Motzkin,
and Ehud Goldwasser of Nahariya

Israel launched Operation Change of Direction after suffering an unprovoked cross-border attack from Lebanese territory. The attack was carried out against Israelis citizens - civilians and soldiers - while on sovereign Israeli soil. Hizbullah violated an internationally recognized border, kidnapped two Israelis (whom they are still holding hostage) from Israeli territory, and opened fire with rockets and missiles on Israel's northern villages. During the operation, Hizbullah fired hundreds of rockets A DAY - over 4,000 in total - against Israeli cities and villages, and their target was civilians. 

In these circumstances, Israel had no alternative but to defend itself and its citizens.

Hizbullah attack on northern border and IDF response (July 12, 2006)
Behind the Headlines: The return of Israel's abducted soldiers (July 16, 2008)

4. Why didn't Israel show restraint and use diplomacy before resorting to force?

Israel had shown restraint for over six years. In May 2000, Israel took the politically difficult decision to fully withdraw from southern Lebanon, having been compelled a few years earlier to establish a security zone there in order to prevent terrorist attacks and shelling of Israeli towns. The UN Security Council acknowledged Israel's complete withdrawal from southern Lebanon to be in full compliance with Resolution 425.

Although aware of the serious threat posed by the Hizbullah build-up and entrenchment in south Lebanon in the years prior to the attack which initiated the conflict, Israel sought to exercise restraint and to use diplomatic means to check the Hizbullah activities directed against it.

Israel called repeatedly, in the UN and elsewhere, for Hizbullah attacks to be halted and for the government of Lebanon to assume its responsibilities and duty to establish control over south Lebanon. Sadly, Lebanon did not heed the demands of the international community to exercise its sovereignty and disarm Hizbullah, and unfortunately, the Lebanese people had to bear the consequences of their government's inaction.

Even following the Hizbullah attack of 12 July 2006, Israel sought to avoid an escalation of the conflict. The Israeli government gave Syria and Hizbullah a 72 hour ultimatum to stop Hizbullah’s activity along the Lebanon-Israel border and to release the two kidnapped IDF soldiers, and so avert the conflict. The ultimatum went unanswered and the missile attacks on Israel intensified.

Israel quickly understood that although military operations were necessary to defend its citizens by neutralizing the threat posed by Hizbullah's terrorist infrastructure, the eventual solution would indeed be diplomatic. On this level, there was no substantive difference whatsoever between the Israeli position and that of the international community. The components of such a solution were as follows:

  • the return of the hostages, Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser and Eldad Regev;
  • the effective deployment of the Lebanese army in all of southern Lebanon;
  • the expulsion of Hizbullah from the area, and
  • the fulfillment of United Nations Resolution 1559.

Israel also stated that it would judge diplomatic initiatives meant to implement the aforementioned components, in light of three criteria:

  • the preservation of IDF gains in removing Hizbullah from the border region
  •  the elimination of the Hizbullah long-range missile threat
  • the prevention of Hizbullah’s re-arming by closely monitoring of the possible routes into Lebanon from Syria or elsewhere (an arms embargo).

•  Special Cabinet Communique (July 12, 2006)
•  Statement by Group of Eight Leaders - G-8 Summit 2006 (July 16, 2006)

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5. Did Israel conduct military operations against Lebanon?

Israel's military operations were directed against Hizbullah targets located in Lebanon and not against Lebanese targets. However, Lebanon by supporting Hizbullah and allowing it to operate against Israel from within Lebanese territory, is in direct contradiction to international law. The Hizbullah terrorist organization is even a party to the government of Lebanon.

The government of Lebanon bears additional responsibility for the Hizbullah threat. It provided Hizbullah with official legitimacy and allowed its armed operations to proceed unhindered. Hizbullah would never have obtained the missiles and military equipment at its disposal had the Lebanese government not allowed this weaponry to reach Lebanon. Hizbullah's threat along Israel's border would not have been possible were it not for the failure of the Lebanese government to deploy its forces in southern Lebanon. Therefore, Israel also viewed Lebanon as responsible for the situation, and consequently, Lebanon could not expect to escape the consequences.

While Israel directed its operations against the Hizbullah, it faced serious difficulties due to the fact that Hizbullah fighters made no attempt to comply with the legal and moral humanitarian obligation to distinguish themselves from civilians. To the contrary, Hizbullah fighters wore civilian clothes to render themselves indistinguishable from Lebanese civilians and deliberately hid weapons and ammunition in the heart of populated civilian areas in a cynical attempt to exploit the protections associated with civilian status under international law and in reckless disregard for the safety of those civilians and civilian objects.

In contrast to Hizbullah, Israel only aimed at targets which directly served the terrorist organizations in their attacks against Israel. Israel did not attack the government of Lebanon, but rather, Hizbullah military assets within Lebanon. Israel avoided striking at Lebanese military installations, unless these were used to assist the Hizbullah, as were a number of radar facilities which Israel destroyed after they helped the terrorists fire a shore-to-ship missile at an Israeli naval vessel.

Israel had no designs on Lebanese territory and did not wish to remain in Lebanon any longer than absolutely necessary in order to fulfill the operation's goal of protecting Israeli cities from terrorist bombardment and disarming Hizbullah.

Ultimately, Israel hoped that a well-crafted solution to the crisis would lead to the establishment of peaceful and friendly relations with Lebanon, whose people will be freed from being held hostage by Hizbullah, and whose government will have regained Lebanese sovereignty.

6. Was Hizbullah an ill-equipped guerrilla force?

The thousands of ongoing rocket attacks from Lebanon by Hizbullah against Haifa and Israel's north, in which 43 Israeli civilians were killed and many, many more wounded, should dispel once and for all any popular myth depicting Hizbullah as an ill-equipped guerrilla force. As the proxy of Iran created in the 1980s to carry out that country's hostile acts toward Israel - in disregard and violation of Lebanese sovereignty - Hizbullah received massive shipments of state-of-the-art weaponry from Teheran's arsenal, transferred through Syria.

A senior Iranian army officer stated on 16 July 2006 to the Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat that the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard set up dozens of advanced rocket and missile bases in the Lebanon Valley and along the border with Israel. Between 1992 and 2005 Hizbullah received some 11,500 short-to-medium range missiles and rockets. The official also said Hizbullah is in possession of four types of advanced ground-to-ground missiles: Fajr missiles with a range of 100 kilometers, "Iran 130" missiles with a range of 90-110 kilometers, Shahin missiles with a range of up to 150 kilometers and 355 millimeter rockets with a 150 kilometer range.

On Friday night, 14 July, Hizbullah demonstrated a previously unknown capability when it fired a sophisticated, Iranian-made, radar-guided shore-to-ship missile at an Israel Navy missile boat, the INS Hanit, killing four sailors. Also during the course of the fighting, the Hizbullah launched remotely piloted aircraft laden with explosives against Israeli civilian targets.

In the face of this grave Hizbullah aggression, Israel had to take the necessary measures to remove the terrorist threat from its population centers, as would have any other state in a similar situation.

Iranian complicity in the Lebanese crisis - July-Aug 2006
Iranian rockets delivered to Hizbullah

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7. What damage did Hizbullah's bombardment cause to Israeli civilian targets?

Hizbullah, as a deliberate strategy, carried out missile attacks against Israeli population centers.

In the course of 34 days of fighting (12 July - 14 August 2006) approximately one third of the population of the State of Israel - about two million people - was placed within striking range of the thousands of missiles launched indiscriminately by Hizbullah. Missile attacks were launched against large cities such as Haifa, historic towns containing religious sites and archeological sites, such as Safed, Nazareth and Tiberias, farming communities such as Meron and villages such as Majdal Krum.

Approximate area of northern Israel subject to Hizbullah rocket attack

© Carta Jerusalem  Click to enlarge

Some 4,000 missiles landed in Israeli territory, all over northern Israel, many in urban areas. In the course of the conflict, 43 Israeli civilians - Arabs and Jews alike - were killed, including seven children. Thousands of civilians required medical attention: 604 civilians were wounded (with various degrees of severity) and an additional 1,210 were treated for shock. Hizbullah not only violated humanitarian principles by deliberately targeting civilian areas, but also by using Katyusha missiles loaded with lethal anti-personnel ball bearings, intended to maximize civilian casualties.

The number of displaced people was estimated at between 350,000-500,000 while about 1,000,000 people were confined to bomb shelters.

Katyusha rocket launchers (IDF Spokesman)

Damage to property was also heavy: in total, some 12,000 civilian buildings were damaged, among them about 400 public buildings, while approximately 2,000 private homes and apartments were completely destroyed. In addition, 23 schools, four kindergartens and two community centers were damaged. During the conflict, hospitals were damaged in Nahariya, Haifa, Safed and Mizra. One of them - a psychiatric hospital - had to be evacuated.

Direct hit on apartment building in the mixed Jewish-Arab
neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas in Haifa - Aug 6, 2006 (Reuters)

Significant damage was also inflicted on infrastructure: sewage plants were damaged and, in some cases, sewage had to be released into the sea and atmosphere (by burning). Over 50 km of roads were damaged and 40 km² of natural woodland, as well as 2 km² of cultivated forest, were destroyed by fires caused by the missiles.

All these clearly constitute civilian objects, which are protected from attack by international law, and whose destruction served no military purpose whatsoever.

Kibbutz Saar (Reuters)

It should be stressed that Hizbullah made no attempt to hide its intention to target civilians as a matter of policy. Indeed, the only concern expressed in the course of the conflict was that Arab Israelis should leave targeted areas so that only Jewish civilians would be killed and wounded. Thus, when Hizbullah Leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah learned that some of the Hizbullah missiles fired into Haifa landed in an Arab-Israeli neighborhood and killed some non-Jewish inhabitants, his response in a televised address was, "I have a special message to the Arabs of Haifa, to our martyrs and to your wounded.... I call on you to leave this city. I hope you do this.... Please leave so we don’t shed your blood, which is our blood." (Times Online, UK, 12 Aug 2006).

• Israel-Hizbullah conflict: Victims of rocket attacks and IDF casualties 

8. How did Israel respond to the bombardment of its northern cities?

In responding to the threat posed by Hizbullah’s terrorist attacks, and notwithstanding the fact that Hizbullah made no effort to comply with the principles of humanitarian law, the IDF regarded itself as bound to comply with the established principles of the law of armed conflict.

Indeed, IDF orders, doctrine and education make clear that soldiers are obligated to act in accordance with international law and custom, including the Geneva Conventions. For example, the Chief of Staff’s Order No. 33.0133 obligates every IDF soldier to conduct him/herself in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

In seeking to implement these principles of international humanitarian law, a number of key questions arise in relation to any operation under consideration, including:
(1) Is the target itself a legitimate military objective? and
(2) Even if the target is, in itself, legitimate, is there likely to be disproportionate injury and damage to the civilian population and civilian property?
Israeli forces ran consistent checks to make sure they were acting in accordance with these two principles.

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9. Were Israeli attacks directed against legitimate military targets?

The generally accepted definition of "military objective" is that set out in the Geneva Conventions (Article 52(2) Additional Protocol I), which states: "…military objectives are limited to those objects which, by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage."

Anything that facilitates and serves Hizbullah, in terms of the real and tangible threat it poses to Israel, is a legitimate target. For example, Beirut International Airport has served as a conduit for the transfer of weapons and the arrival of instructors from Iran. The bridges in northern and southern Lebanon serve as channels for transporting Hizbullah weapons and personnel. The same is true of the Beirut-Damascus Highway.

10. Were Israeli attacks on Lebanese infrastructure justified?

The guiding principle adopted by the IDF was to target only infrastructure that was making a significant contribution to the operational capabilities of the Hizbullah terrorists. This meant that, for the most part, Israeli attacks were limited to the transportation infrastructure. Most of the other infrastructure (medical, cultural, railroad, tunnels, ports, banking, manufacturing, farming, tourism, sewage, financial, electricity, drainage, water and the like) was left almost completely untouched.

All IDF operations in Lebanon were directed against legitimate military objectives, and specifically in relation to infrastructure, included the following:

Bridges and roads - The activity of terrorist groups in Lebanon was dependent on major transportation routes through which weaponry and ammunition, as well as missile launchers and terrorist reinforcements, were transported. Damage to key routes was intended to prevent or obstruct the planning and perpetrating of attacks by the terrorists. It was also intended to prevent the kidnapped Israeli soldiers from being smuggled out of the country.

Under international law there is widespread recognition that lines of transportation which can serve military purposes are a legitimate military target. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) includes in its list of military objectives considered to be of generally recognized military importance: "Lines and means of communications (railway lines, roads, bridges, tunnels and canals) which are of fundamental military importance."

Notwithstanding the operational justifications for targeting major roads in Lebanon, the IDF took pains to ensure that sufficient routes remained open to enable civilians to leave combat zones and to permit access for humanitarian supplies. Efforts were also made to ensure that damage to civilian vehicles was minimized.

Runways at Beirut International Airport - In the view of the IDF, rendering the runways unusable constituted one of the most important and appropriate methods of preventing reinforcements and supplies of weaponry and military materiel reaching the terrorist organizations. It was also a response to reports that the Hizbullah terrorists intended to fly the kidnapped Israelis out of Lebanon.

Airports are widely recognized to be legitimate military targets. The International Committee of the Red Cross recognizes airfields on its list of generally recognized military objectives, while The Canadian Law of Armed Conflict Manual, for example, notes that "ports and airfields are generally accepted as being military objectives."

It should also be noted that, in its operation at Beirut Airport, the IDF was careful not to damage the central facilities of the airport, including the radar and control towers, allowing the airport to continue to control international flights over its airspace.

Al Manar TV station - Operating as the Hizbullah television station, Al Manar was used to relay messages to terrorists and to incite acts of terrorism. The ICRC list of accepted military objectives includes "the installations of broadcasting and television stations." Similarly, the Committee established to review NATO bombings in Yugoslavia noted in relation to NATO attacks on radio and television stations in Belgrade: "If the media is used to incite crimes then it is a legitimate target… Insofar as the attack actually was aimed at disrupting the communications network it was legally acceptable."

Fuel reserves - Terrorist activity is dependent, inter alia, on a regular supply of fuel without which the terrorists cannot operate. For this reason a number of fuel depots which primarily served the terrorist operations were targeted. From intelligence Israel has obtained, it appears that this step had a significant effect on reducing the capability of the terrorist organizations.

The legitimacy of directing attacks on fuel and power installations has been widely noted. The Canadian Law of Armed Conflict Manual, for example, lists petroleum storage areas as "generally accepted as being military objectives," while the ICRC list of military objectives also includes "Installations providing energy mainly for national defense, e.g. coal, other fuels, or atomic energy, and plants producing gas or electricity mainly for military consumption."

One of the claims that have been made against Israel concerns the oil spill that occurred off the shores of Lebanon during the war. Without making any comment regarding the factual validity of such claims, it should be emphasized that Israel ensured that sea and air access was allowed to any assistance offered with regard to the oil spill, even in the midst of a naval and aerial blockade which had to be imposed for operational and security reasons.

Beyond such specific instances of infrastructure serving the Hizbullah terrorist organization, Israel took care to try to avoid damage to civilian structures and services. The effects were noted by Washington Post journalist William M. Arkin (18 Sept 2006) who visited Lebanon during the conflict. Regarding the destruction in Beirut he wrote:

"Only a very short drive from the neighborhood of southern Beirut though, you are back to bustling boulevards; a few neighborhoods over and there are luxury stores and five star hotels. Beyond the Hizbullah neighborhoods, the city is normal. Electricity flows just as it did before the fighting. The Lebanese sophisticates are glued to their cell phones. Even an international airport that was bombed is reopened. An accurate reading of what happened and what south Beirut means might produce a different picture. Israel has the means to impart greater destruction, but that does not mean intrinsically that it is more brutal. If Hizbullah had bigger rockets or more accurate ones, it would have done not only the same, but undoubtedly more."

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11. Why is Hizbullah ultimately responsible for harm to Lebanese civilians?

Hizbullah fighters made no attempt to comply with the legal and moral obligation to distinguish themselves from civilians. To the contrary, Hizbullah fighters wore civilian clothes to make themselves indistinguishable from Lebanese civilians and deliberately hid weapons and ammunition in the heart of populated civilian areas. This was a cynical attempt to exploit the protections normally associated with civilian status under international law. Hizbullah demonstrated reckless disregard for the safety of those civilians and civilian structures.

Photos smuggled out of Lebanon show Hizbullah terrorists
having taken up a position in the Christian neighborhood
of Wadi Shahrour east of Beirut, on a truck mounted with
a ZSU-23X2 anti-aircraft cannon. ©Newspix/News Ltd.

During his visit to Beirut, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland, publicly condemned Hizbullah for causing the deaths of hundreds of Lebanese civilians: "Hizbullah must stop this cowardly blending among women and children." When Hizbullah boasted to the international press that they had lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of the hostilities, Egeland stated to the Associated Press (25 July 2006): "I don’t think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."

Likewise the Special Rapporteurs sent by the UN Human Rights Council to examine the conflict in Lebanon, although understating the phenomenon, stated in their report, "It is clear that Hizbullah made at least some use of houses and other civilian sites to hide or conceal military activities" and confirmed that they had seen "video material unmistakably showing rockets being launched from civilian residential buildings in South Lebanon. This conduct was a clear violation of international humanitarian law obligations."

The deliberate targeting of civilians by Hizbullah and its use of civilians to shield its terrorist operations has been extensively documented in a study published by The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center of Israel entitled, "The use of Lebanese civilians as human shields: the extensive military infrastructure positioned and hidden by Hizbullah in populated areas."

This use of human shields should be roundly condemned by the international community. Failure to do so - or worse, placing the blame on Israel for the civilian casualties - can only encourage terrorist organizations such as Hizbullah to repeat these acts, thereby placing more innocent civilians in harms way.

Hizbullah's exploitation of Lebanese population centers and civilians: photographic evidence
Hezbollah's use of Lebanese civilians as human shields (IICC)
• New York Times reports Israeli allegations of Hizbullah war crimes (Dec 2006) 

12. Who is responsible for harm to civilians located near legitimate military targets?

It should be stressed that if a location is a legitimate military objective, it does not cease to be so because civilians are in the vicinity. Article 28 of the IVth Geneva Convention provides: "The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations."

The Hizbullah carried out deliberate missile attacks against Israeli population centers - aiming their missiles at the civilians located there. By contrast, Israel only aimed at targets which directly served Hizbullah in their attacks against Israel. For example, Israel targeted the Beirut International Airport and the Beirut-Damascus Highway because they served Hizbullah to re-supply itself with weapons and ammunition. Israel has also targeted buildings, such as the Hizbullah television studios, which were a vital means of communication for terrorist operatives, and the Aldahiya compound in southern Beirut, a closed Hizbullah area housing the organization's command and control center.

Clearly, the deliberate placing of military targets in the heart of civilian areas is a serious violation of humanitarian law, and those who choose to locate such targets in these areas must bear responsibility for the injury to civilians. As international law expert Professor Yoram Dinstein noted in his 2004 book Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict: "Should civilian casualties ensue from an attempt to shield combatants or a military objective, the ultimate responsibility lies with the belligerent placing innocent civilians at risk."

However, it is the IDF’s position that the callous disregard of those who hide behind civilians does not absolve Israel of the responsibility to avoid or at least minimize injury to civilians and their property in the course of its operations. In particular this raises the complex issue of proportionality.

Hizbullah's exploitation of Lebanese population centers and civilians: photographic evidence
Hezbollah's use of Lebanese civilians as human shields (IICC)
• New York Times reports Israeli allegations of Hizbullah war crimes (Dec 2006) 

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13. Did Israel use proportionate force?

Proportionality must be measured in terms of the extent of the threat. Israel's actions resulted not just from Hizbullah's unprovoked attack against Israel and the abduction of two soldiers. Israel's military operation was also being carried out against the real and tangible Hizbullah threat against more than a million civilians, throughout northern Israel. The Hizbullah - a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction - had over twelve thousand missiles targeted against Israel and launched over 4,000 of them during the Second War in Lebanon. The massive use by Hizbullah of these missiles - causing numerous civilian deaths, hundreds of casualties and widespread destruction - made Israel's actions necessary.

In international law the question of proportionality is a crucial one in judging a military operation. Beyond the duty to distinguish between legitimate and non-legitimate military targets, under international law it is also required that the potential harm to civilians and civilian structures expected in any attack must be proportionate to the military advantage anticipated.

Major General A.P.V. Rogers, a former Director of British Army Legal Services, explains in his book Command Responsibility under the Law of War, the rationale behind this principle: "Although they are not military objectives, civilians and civilian objects are subject to the general dangers of War in the sense that attacks on military personnel and military objectives may cause incidental damage. It may not be possible to limit the radius of effect entirely to the objective to be attacked…. Members of the armed forces are not liable for such incidental damage, provided it is proportionate to the military gain expected of the attack."

The test of proportionality to be applied in a case of armed conflict (jus in bellum) is broader that that applied under the principles of self-defense outside the context of actual warfare (jus ad bellum). But it should be noted that the policies applied in practice by the IDF conformed even with this stricter test of proportionality. In relation to the self-defense standard, it should be recalled that international law provides that the proportionality of a response to an attack is to be measured, not in regard to the specific attack suffered by a state, but in regard to what is necessary to remove the overall threat. As Rosalyn Higgins, currently President of the International Court of Justice, has written in Problems and Process, proportionality "cannot be in relation to any specific prior injury - it has to be in relation to the overall legitimate objective of ending the aggression."

As such, the right of self-defense includes not just actions taken to prevent the immediate threat, but also those taken to prevent subsequent attacks. In Israel's case this means that its response had to be measured not only in respect to the initial Hizbullah cross-border attack, or even the 4,000 missiles fired at Israel’s northern towns and villages, but also against the threat of the many thousands of missiles which Hizbullah had amassed and continued to receive from Iran and Syria.

Israel has adopted the principles of international humanitarian law outlined above and the IDF has entrenched them in its orders, doctrine and education. With regard to the selection of targets, for example, the IDF's "Law of War on the Battlefield" not only emphasizes that a distinction must be made between military objectives and civilian objects but also that "in cases where there is doubt as to whether a civilian object has turned into a military objective… it must be assumed that it is not a military objective unless proven otherwise."

Similarly, in relation to the question of proportionality, the IDF position is clear: "Even when it is not possible to isolate the civilians from an assault and there is no other recourse but to attack, the commander is required to refrain from an attack that is expected to inflict harm on the civilian population, which is disproportionate to the expected military gain."

In practice, this requires that the IDF and the commander in the field assess both the expected military gain, and the potential of collateral injury to Lebanese civilians. With regard to the expected military gain, it should be noted that the relevant advantage is not that of that specific attack but of the military operation as a whole.

The possibility of collateral injury to civilians must be weighed in light of these considerations. Hizbullah's deliberate placing of missile launchers and stockpiles of weapons in the heart of civilian centers, frequently inside and beneath populated apartment blocks, meant that this risk was tragically high.

The presence of civilians in the area, however, does not stop a military objective from being a legitimate target. This is both the law and a reflection of state practice.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that when civilians were in the vicinity of military objectives, Israel made significant efforts to avoid, and in any event to minimize, civilian casualties. Every operation was considered on an individual basis to ensure that it met the requirements of international law, including the test of proportionality. Frequently, this meant the rejection of proposed military operations when the likelihood of collateral damage to civilians and their property was considered too high. On other occasions, it meant that operations were conducted in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of incidental damage, in terms of the timing or operational aspects of the attack.

Finally, whenever possible without jeopardizing the operation, Israel issued advance notice to the local residents through various media - including dropping leaflets, radio broadcasts and contacts with local leaders - to distance themselves from areas in which Hizbullah was operating and from places in which its weaponry was being stored.

Responding to Hizbullah attacks from Lebanon: Issues of proportionality
IDF warns Lebanese civilians to leave danger zones

14. Why did the Israeli military operation last a month?

Israel had no designs on Lebanese territory and did not wish to remain in Lebanon any longer than absolutely necessary in order to fulfill the operation's goal of protecting Israeli cities from terrorist bombardment and disarming Hizbullah. The international community understood that in order for the objectives to be achieved, the Israeli operation could not be halted before an internationally backed diplomatic solution was adopted. The Israeli military operation didn't last a day longer than was absolutely necessary.

It is a tragedy that the leaders of Lebanon abdicated their responsibility to protect their own population, and allowed a terrorist group promoting a foreign agenda of hate and confrontation to hijack its sovereignty. Their decision to do so has resulted in the needless and tragic deaths of Lebanese as well as Israeli civilians, and extensive destruction both countries. 

15. Why did Israel commit so many ground troops when it has stated that it has no designs on Lebanese territory?

Prior to the present crisis, Hizbullah gun positions were deployed all the way up to the Israel-Lebanon border. From these positions, the terrorists carried out unprovoked attacks with machine-guns, grenades, anti-tank rockets, wire-guided missiles and other "line-of-sight" weapons against Israeli towns, civilian vehicles and border patrols.

Direct military confrontation with the terrorist fortifications arrayed along the border was critical in order to achieve the objective of dislodging the Hizbullah threat from Israel's north. Therefore, ground operations were a necessary complement to the air and artillery operations being carried out against the Hizbullah infrastructure in depth.

On 9 August 2006, Israel's Security Cabinet decided to extend its ground operations in Lebanon even further northward. Despite the Israeli pinpoint air operations and the IDF ground presence along the border, Hizbullah still retained its ability to fire their shorter range Katyusha missiles at Israeli cities. Over 150 missiles a day were landing in Israel, mostly fired from areas north of the limited presence of Israeli forces. Thousands of Israeli homes had been hit, 300,000-500,000 Israeli civilians were displaced, and over a million were living in bomb shelters. In all, more than two million Israelis were within rocket range, including approximately 700,000 Israeli Arabs.

Hizbullah still had thousands of these Katyusha weapons, which were easy to transport, conceal and fire, and consequently could not be fully addressed by air operations alone. If the Israeli government was to fulfill its duty to protect its citizens, it had no choice but to send ground troops further northward to physically remove the Hizbullah missile-launching crews from areas within striking distance of Israeli cities.

Israel did not carry out a large scale ground campaign as was the case in 1982, and Israel had no desire to take and hold Lebanese territory. Israel's ground operations were meant only to remove the entrenched Hizbullah military presence from along the border, so that the Lebanese Army would be able to extend Lebanese sovereignty to the area, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.

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16. What did Israel do to protect Lebanese civilians and foreign nationals from their operations against Hizbullah?

Residents of southern Lebanon were warned repeatedly several days in advance of Israeli operations - by radio announcements, by leaflets and even by phone calls - to leave the area, pending an imminent attack by the IDF. Specific instructions were provided about routes and vehicle types, so that those leaving would not be confused with Hizbullah combatants and supplies vehicles.

The concern for the lives of civilians is an integral part of the IDF operational procedure, which requires extreme care to be taken to minimize harm to the civilian population - often at the cost of operational advantages. For example, the leaflets dropped on 25 July urging residents of Kafr Qana to leave their village gave Hizbullah prior warning of the attack. These humanitarian steps reduced Israel's element of surprise and endangered its own troops.

Israel undertook other methods to address the numerous acute humanitarian issues that arose. These efforts included measures taken to facilitate access of humanitarian assistance to civilians within Lebanon. An operations room was set up in Tel Aviv to coordinate international efforts to provide aid to Lebanon. This facility was headed by senior IDF staff and manned by representatives of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

At the same time Israel established a "humanitarian corridor" to enable shipments of aid to reach Lebanon despite the ongoing hostilities. A sea-route to Lebanon was established through the port in Beirut, and a land route was designated from Beirut northward along the coast to the Syrian-Lebanese border. Throughout the hostilities, Israel coordinated humanitarian issues with the international community, even expanding the corridor to include other points of entry, and establishing a special ‘humanitarian headquarters’ to direct the coordination efforts. In addition, Israel made arrangements to permit the landing of aircraft at Beirut International Airport to unload humanitarian goods for residents of southern Lebanon.

Another issue of humanitarian concern was the evacuation of foreign nationals from Lebanon. From the very first day of the war, the IDF helped coordinate the evacuation of at least 70,000 foreign nationals from Lebanon. To the best of our knowledge, this effort was accomplished without any loss of life. A total of 213 passenger ships, 123 land convoys and 196 helicopters were allowed to dock in or travel through Lebanon to evacuate the expatriates and tourists. The convoys were able to travel on approved routes, which were coordinated with IDF forces.

Israeli hospitals also offered free medical care to any Lebanese person who was wounded in the war. In the words of Professor Zev Rothstein, Director-General of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer: "We are not to blame for this war. We don’t ask who is to blame. We have an open Jewish heart. Our aim is to save lives and reduce misery. We don’t hate like the terrorists….We have housing for Lebanese families and food at no cost….We will take all who need us, including adults….all the costs are paid by donors…if a child were brought here, we would not ask whether his father is a terrorist."

This offer was broadcast via a hospital representative in Cyprus due to the fact that many Lebanese fled there, and was also broadcast on Arabic radio stations in the region.

The Second War in Lebanon caused a great deal of humanitarian suffering. Throughout the crisis, Israel did its best - given the difficult situation of facing an enemy who ignores the rules of war - to ensure that this suffering was alleviated as much as possible.

IDF warns Lebanese civilians to leave danger zones

17. Wasn't Israel concerned about the mounting number of civilian casualties?

Israel regrets the loss of any innocent lives. Israel does not target civilians, yet is forced to take decisive action against Hizbullah, a ruthless terrorist organization which has over 12,000 missiles pointing towards its cities. Israel, like any other country, must protect its citizens, and had no choice but to remove this grave threat to the lives of millions of innocent civilians. Had Hizbullah not established such a missile force, Israel would have had no need to take action, and had Hizbullah chosen to set up its arsenal away from populated areas, no civilians would have been hurt when Israel did what it obviously had to do. The responsibility for the tragic situation lies solely with the Hizbullah.

Adding to the civilian toll is that fact that the terrorists ignored their obligation under humanitarian international law to distinguish themselves and their equipment from civilians. They have purposely hidden themselves and stockpiled their missiles in residential areas, thus endangering the surrounding populations. Indeed, many of the missiles fired at Israel were stored and launched from or near private homes, commandeered by Hizbullah terrorists wishing to shield their actions behind civilians in order to thwart Israel's response. Despite this cruel exploitation of civilians, Israel took extreme care to reduce to a minimum the risk to which the population is exposed - often at the cost of operational advantages.

During his recent visit to Beirut, UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland publicly condemned Hizbullah of causing the deaths of hundreds of Lebanese civilians.  In his own words, he said "Hizbullah must stop this cowardly blending among women and children." When Hizbullah boasted to the international press that they had lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this, Egeland stated: "I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."

The suffering of civilians was a tragic reality on both sides of the conflict. Israel made strenuous efforts to reduce this toll, both by protecting Israeli civilians and by seeking to minimize civilian suffering on the Lebanese side. Following the conflict, Israel has also undertaken numerous investigations and analyses with a view to learning lessons from the conflict and to enabling improvements to be made in the future. Israel’s efforts in this regard should not, however, diminish the ultimate responsibility of those who callously and deliberately used the Lebanese civilian population as a shield for the suffering that inevitably resulted from their actions.

Hizbullah's exploitation of Lebanese population centers and civilians: photographic evidence
Israel coordinates humanitarian aid

18. Did Israel target a residential building in Kafr Qana, killing 28 civilians?

Early Sunday morning, 30 July 2006, the Israel Air Force attacked Hizbullah missile launchers and other military targets in and around Kafr Qana, a village from which over 150 missiles have been launched at communities in the western Galilee. Following the strikes, one of the buildings targeted collapsed, and 28 of Lebanese civilians were killed. Israel was unaware that, along with the Hizbullah target, civilians were also in the building. Had it known, it would not have carried out the strike.

There is clear documentation of Hizbullah use of Lebanese civilians as human shields, firing missiles from inside villages, and even inside homes, in order to escape Israeli counter-terrorist operations.  Cynically, when civilians are unfortunately (yet inevitably) hurt by this heinous tactic, Hizbullah is quick to exploit their injury for propaganda purposes.

Israel deeply regrets the loss of innocent lives in the conflict with Hizbullah. Israel does not target civilians, yet was forced to take decisive action against Hizbullah's ongoing missile attacks against Israel's civilian population. Hizbullah cannot evade moral responsibility for the harm it causes Lebanese civilians by using them as human shields, when it fires its missiles from their midst in full knowledge that Israel will strike back in self-defense.

Incident in Kafr Qana (July 30, 2006)
Completion of inquiry into July 30th incident in Qana (Aug 2, 2006)
Hizbullah's exploitation of Lebanese population centers and civilians: photographic evidence

19. What did Israel do to make sure the Qana incident didn't repeat itself?

Following the tragic incident in Kafr Qana, Israel narrowed the scope of its air operations over Lebanon. Until the completion of the comprehensive IDF investigation of the incident and the assimilation of its conclusions (which took about 48 hours), only objectives that were about to strike targets in Israel were attacked.

Similarly, the State of Israel ensured safe passage for 24 hours, through its liaison with the United Nations, for all inhabitants of southern Lebanon who wished to evacuate northward. In addition, land, air, and sea humanitarian corridors were established, for the purpose of providing humanitarian aid and evacuating wounded.

Statement by Counselor Eilon Shahar to UN Flash Appeal for Lebanon (July 24, 2006)

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20. Did Israel use weapons prohibited by international law?

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is committed to conducting operations in full conformity with the law of armed conflict. These rules are enshrined in the IDF's Manual on the Law of Armed Conflict, which requires that military operations be directed only against military targets, and that only weapons which can be directed at such targets be used. As such, IDF operations are directed only against legitimate military targets (the terrorists themselves, the places from which they launch attacks against Israel, facilities serving the terrorists, and objectives that directly contribute to the enemy's war effort). Additionally, the manual requires that, where the risk of incidental injury to civilians outweighs the expected military advantage (proportionality), the military operation cannot be carried out.

Regarding allegations that illegal use was made of cluster bombs (CBUs), it should be noted that this type of weapons is not prohibited by international law - neither under customary international law, nor under the relevant treaty, the Conventional Weapons Convention, (to which Israel is a party). They are possessed by several dozen states and have been used by many of them, including, for example, NATO forces in Serbia and Kosovo.

As international law does not prohibit the use of CBUs, any discussion of Israel's use of such weaponry should focus on the method of their use, rather than their legality.

Clearly, as in the case of all arms, the use of cluster munitions must be in accordance with the principles of the law of armed conflict. In the course of the conflict, CBUs were used as part of Israel’s response to the unique threat posed by Hizbullah. In particular, the nature of the campaign, the massive scope of missile attacks - including CBU attacks - against Israeli population centers, and the fact that missile launchers were deliberately and expertly camouflaged in built-up areas and areas with dense vegetation, were all factors in the decision to use this type of weapon. The decision to use CBUs to neutralize the missile attacks was only made after other options had been examined and found to be less effective in ensuring maximal coverage of the missile-launching areas.

In practice, the operational effectiveness of CBUs was clearly shown, resulting in a disruption of missile attacks against Israeli population centers.

Despite the urgent need to prevent the continuous firing of missiles into Israel by Hizbullah, Israel recognized the need to take measures to avoid, and in any event to minimize, civilian casualties. Among the measures taken by Israel was the printing of millions of fliers, written in Arabic, which were dispersed over populated areas, explaining that due to Hizbullah activity, residents should evacuate these areas in order to avoid being harmed. These messages were also broadcast through PA systems and through radio broadcasts on the Al-Mashrek station, broadcasting out of Israel in Arabic. Additionally, Israeli officials contacted the mayors and local leaders of a number of villages in order to ensure the evacuation of residents.

All CBU fire was directed at legitimate military objectives and for humanitarian reasons most of the CBU fire was directed at open areas, keeping a safe distance from built up areas. In those cases where CBU fire was directed at military objectives which were in the vicinity of built up areas, it was always aimed toward particular locations from which missiles were being launched against Israel, and after significant measures were taken to warn civilians to leave the area. Moreover, following the cessation of active hostilities, Israel handed over to UNIFIL maps of the areas suspected of containing unexploded ordnance, including from CBUs, in order to facilitate the ordnance clearing process.

Israel stresses that, in all circumstances, it makes strenuous efforts to ensure that military operations are conducted so as to minimize harm to civilians and damage to their property.

In the course of the conflict in Lebanon Israel used a range of weapons and ammunition in its efforts to confront the terrorist threat. All the weapons, and the manner in which they were used by the IDF, were in conformity with international humanitarian law.

Behind the Headlines: Legal and operational aspects of the use of cluster bombs

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21. Why did the IDF bomb a UN post, resulting in the death of four UN soldiers?

As part of its ongoing operations against the Hizbullah terrorist organization, the IDF operated on 25 July 2006 in the area of Al Khiyam, from which Hizbullah had been launching missile attacks against Israel.

During the operation a UN post was unintentionally hit, killing four UN soldiers. The IDF expressed deep regret over the incident, stressing that it would never intentionally target any UN facility or personnel.

One of the UN soldiers who was killed had, two days earlier, sent an e-mail to the Canadian media, describing how the neutrality of his position had been violated by Hizbullah terrorists attacking Israel whilst adjacent to the UN post, saying that the IDF had no choice but to strike back at the terrorists. He concluded his e-mail by stating that Israeli action "has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity."

Immediately following the tragic incident, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and expressed his profound regret over the accidental killing of the four soldiers.

• A Canadian soldier's report from South Lebanon

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22. It appears that Israel faced a two-front conflict. Are the two fronts in fact connected?

Yes, the attack along the Lebanese border was indeed connected to the abduction, on June 25, of another soldier, Gilad Shalit, on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza.

In both cases, Israel was the victim of border incursions, border attacks and border insecurity. And in both places, Israel had voluntarily withdrawn to the universally accepted international boundaries. Israel had hoped that with its departure from Gaza and from Lebanon, a new era of cooperation and progress would begin between Israel, Lebanon, the Palestinians, and the rest of the Arab World. But instead of progress, it has been rewarded with terror. 

In his press conference after the 12 July 2006 attack, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, presented his list of ransom demands for the release of the abducted Israeli soldiers. It included a demand for the release of Palestinian Hamas terrorist inmates as well as members of the Lebanese Hizbullah. This is indicative of the fact that the level of coordination of these two Jihadist terror groups is not just ideological but operational as well. Another indication of this cooperation was seen in the Hamas launching of a 122mm missile from Gaza into the Israeli southern port city of Ashkelon, exactly when the cease-fire took effect in Lebanon, thus signaling a common intention to continue the shelling of Israeli civilians from anywhere they can.

Statement by Group of Eight Leaders - G-8 Summit 2006 (July 16, 2006)
Palestinian terrorist bombings, some directed by Hizbullah, thwarted (Aug 15, 2006)
Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon (May 2000)
Disengagement from the Gaza Strip (August 2005)

23. Why did Israel expect the government of Lebanon to take action after having demonstrated years of inaction and ineffectiveness?

The reduction of the Syrian military presence in Lebanon allowed Beirut more freedom of action in order to promote Lebanese interests, yet no action whatsoever had been taken against the Hizbullah.

It was the responsibility of the government of Lebanon to fulfill its obligation as a sovereign state to extend its control over its own territory, as called for by Security Council resolutions 425, 1559 and then 1701 and as is required under international law. Through its military operation, Israel expected both to pressure the Beirut government to take action, and to facilitate this action by providing the international encouragement and the operational conditions favorable to the disarming of Hizbullah and the effective deployment of the Lebanese army southward to the Israel-Lebanon border.

•  Special Cabinet Communique (July 12, 2006)

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24. Why does Israel say that Syria and Iran are involved in the Hamas and Hizbullah terrorism?

Syria provides support to the Hizbullah, including the transfer of arms, munitions and operatives through the Damascus airport and border crossings into Lebanon. Hizbullah would not be able to operate in Lebanon without clear Syrian sponsorship.

Syria also hosts in its capital, Damascus, the headquarters of a number of Palestinian Jihadist terrorist groups. The Syrian regime provides shelter and logistical support for Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who has been living there for a number of years. From Damascus, Mashaal commands terrorists within the Palestinian territories who carry out ongoing attacks against Israel and its citizens, including the bombardment of southern Israel with Kassam missiles and the terrorist infiltration and abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Iran is the main benefactor of the Hizbullah. It provides funding, weapons, directives and even Iranian cadre (the Pazdaran Revolutionary Guards) for this terrorist organization. Most of the missiles that hit the Israeli cities were manufactured by Iran, including the long-range "Khaibar" missile which struck as far south as Hadera in the Sharon Plain. The guided missile fired against an Israeli naval boat off the Lebanese coast was also of Iranian manufacture. For all practical purposes, Hizbullah is merely an arm of the Teheran Jihadist regime.

RPG found in Lebanon, bearing emblem of the Iranian
army (IDF Spokesman)

Remains of the Iranian Zelzal missile land in Lebanese
residential area (©Newspix/News Ltd.).

Iran has also made considerable inroads of influence into Palestinian terrorist organization, including Fatah's al-Aqsa Brigade and Hamas' Iz a-Din al-Kassam group. It provides their terror cells with funding, technical instruction and operational directives.

•  Iranian complicity in the present Lebanese crisis
•  The Iranian threat: Support of terror
•  Iranian Zelzal-2 rockets were delivered to Hizbullah
•  Hizbullah leader declares: We get our orders from Teheran
•  Iran and Syria as Strategic Support for Palestinian Terrorism
•  Iranian activities in support of the Palestinian intifada
•  The financial sources of the Hamas terror organization
•  Syria as strategic support for Hamas

25. What motivates Hamas and Hizbullah, and why do Syria and Iran support them?

Both Hamas and Hizbullah are driven by an extremist Jihadist ideology which calls for the immediate destruction of the State of Israel - as part of an international effort to wage "Holy War" against the "infidel" Western world in order that their radical brand of Islam will prevail throughout the globe.

Syria and Iran support these groups, not only because they support their ideology, but also because they provide Damascus and Teheran with a tool to strengthen the influence of their own regimes. Additionally, they help divert attention from other issues which have exposed them to international pressure. Syria is facing rising criticism over its involvement in the murder of ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and its interference in Lebanese affairs. Iran is exposed to widening pressure over its nuclear weapons development program. In addition, the international community is denouncing both regimes for their dismal human rights record.

Consequently, Israel views Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran as primary elements in the Jihad/Terror Axis threatening not only Israel but the entire Western world.

26. If Syria and Iran are behind the terrorism, why is Israel attacking Lebanon?

Israel did not attack the government of Lebanon, but rather, Hizbullah military assets within Lebanon. Israel avoided striking at Lebanese military installations, unless these were used to assist the Hizbullah. For example, a number of radar facilities were destroyed by Israel after they helped the terrorists fire a shore-to-ship missile at an Israeli ship.

Israel had no desire to escalate the military action beyond the immediate theater of operation. Israel feels that the involvement of Syria and Iran is best addressed through coordinated diplomatic pressure.

Iranian nuclear capabilities will preoccupy the western world in the coming months and years. What happened in Lebanon and Gaza may be viewed as a precursor of this geo-political confrontation. If the free world were to be unable to form a united front against Hizbullah, then it would be unable to convince the Teheran regime that it is truly serious about stopping Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Regarding Syria, Israel publicly stated during the operation that it had no intention of attacking Syrian targets. This, despite the fact that throughout the hostilities and afterwards, trucks carrying ammunition and supplies for Hizbullah crossed from Syria into Lebanon.

•  The Iranian nuclear threat

27. How will Israel pressure Syria and Iran to stop supporting terrorism?

There is a widening consensus in the international arena that Jihadist terror is a global menace which must be confronted with determination and resolve. Israel has been in intensive contact with foreign governments and international organizations, in order to coordinate pressure on these regimes, ensuring they understand that the price that they'll pay in the global arena for their support of terrorism will be unbearably high.

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28. What is UN Security Council Resolution 1701?

On 11 August, 2006, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1701, regarding a cessation of hostilities in Lebanon.

The preamble of the Resolution:

  • clearly puts the blame for the current crisis on Hizbullah
  • calls for the unconditional release of the Israeli hostages, and
  • calls for the implementation of UNSC Resolution1559

In the operative paragraphs, the Resolution:

  • Calls for the cessation of all Hizbullah armed attacks;
  • Creates a new, strengthened UNIFIL (15,000 troops);
  • Gives UNIFIL an improved mandate (to take "all necessary action" to prevent hostile activities of any kind in its area of operations);
  • Calls upon Lebanon and the new UNIFIL to together deploy throughout the South;
  • Calls upon Israel to withdraw in parallel with their deployment;
  • Calls that there be no armed groups, foreign or domestic (i.e. armed Hizbullah militia or Syrian and Iranian military advisors) in Lebanon;
  • Establishes an embargo of weapons to Lebanese groups other than the government, enforced by UNIFIL (at airports, seaports and border crossings); and
  • Forbids Hizbullah armed elements from returning to southern Lebanon, from the Blue Line (Israel-Lebanon border) to the Litani River.

Behind the Headlines: UN Security Council Resolution 1701

29. How does Israel view Security Council Resolution 1701?

Resolution 1701 contains the fundamental elements which the Government of Israel set out to achieve following Hizbullah's unprovoked cross border attack and bombardment on 12 July 2006. Israel believed that Resolution 1701 had the potential to build a more stable and secure situation, and to prevent Hizbullah from ever again being able to create the sort of regional crisis it had initiated. Consequently, the Government of Israel announced on 13 August its decision to accept United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and to act according to its obligations as outlined in the document.

Israel viewed the resolution as reflecting Israeli interests, and sought its full implementation, so that it could lead to a substantive positive change both in the security situation along the Israel-Lebanon border, and in the relationship between the two states. Israel consistently promoted an internationally sanctioned solution which would fulfill the goals as set out by Israel's Cabinet decision following the 12 July Hizbullah attack on Israeli communities and the abduction of the two soldiers.

It is clear that the international community adopted the Israeli perspective that a solution had to be crafted which would bring about a full and functional implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 by the Lebanese government - including the disarming of Hizbullah, and the extension of effective Lebanese sovereignty all the way south to the Israeli border. In short, the world agreed with Israel that the situation in Lebanon could not return to the status quo ante, and that enforcing 1559 is the only solution. Israel expected that the international community would take all the concrete steps required in order to bring about the full and effective implementation of this promising resolution.

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30. What did Israel accomplish in its operation against the Hizbullah?

The military operation, code-named "Change of Direction", dealt a major blow to Hizbullah. That terror organization was dislodged from its positions along the border, removing the direct-fire threat (machine-guns, RPGs, recoilless rifles, wire-guided missiles) to Israel's border communities.

In addition, the organization's long-range missile system deep inside Lebanon was crippled, as well as its command and control systems, headquarters, and infrastructures. The array of Katyusha rockets deployed in southern Lebanon was severely reduced, and the flow of ammunition from Syria to the Hizbullah was interdicted.

At the same time, in the diplomatic arena, the international backing which Israel enjoyed throughout the operation is unprecedented - from the 16 July G-8 Statement at the beginning of the conflict to the 11 August adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which established the cease fire.

The international community supported Israel in its operational goals against the Hizbullah and clearly backed the immediate disarming of that organization. For the first time, conditions had been created to finally begin implementation of UNSC Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarming of Hizbullah, its expulsion from the border and the deployment of the Lebanese army along the border. The international community stood ready to take concrete steps to implement resolutions 1559 and 1701 by dispatching a multi-national force to deploy in Lebanon, to help the control the area, to enforce an arms embargo at border crossings, air and sea ports and to operate effectively to dismantle Hizbullah's military capabilities.

The final success of the operation will be determined by how effectively the UN and the Lebanese forces prevent Hizbullah from rearming and rebuilding its infrastructure.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of evidence that the necessary steps are not being taken.

• One year since UNSC Resolution 1701 ending Second Lebanon War: Interim report (IICC)
Report of UN Secretary-General on implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (June 2007)
UN Security Council concerned at continued arms smuggling into Lebanon (June 2007)

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