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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

How did the Lebanon conflagration start?

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About Maurice Ostroff

By Maurice Ostroff
 

Background to the War in Lebanon 2006

The following authentic information extracted from an official UNIFIL document[i] indicates clearly that the recent kidnapping of two IDF soldiers was not the principal cause of the present conflagration. Rather it results from Hezbollah’s consistent and continuous attacks on Israel, mainly with missiles aimed at civilian populations, in flagrant violation of international law, ever since Israel left Lebanon in 2000.

 

SC Resolution 1559 included a statement confirming that, as of 16 June 2000, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978) and met the requirements defined in the Secretary-General’s report of 22 May 2000 (S/2000/460). It also called upon the Lebanese Government to fully extend and exercise its sole and effective authority throughout the south. (The Shaba farms area was specifically excluded as Lebanese territory.)

 

On October 7, 2000 as a crowd of about 500 south of Marwahin attempted to cross the Israeli border fence, Israeli troops opened fire, killing three and injuring some 20. Later the same day, in a flagrant breach of the ceasefire, Hizbollah launched an attack across the Blue Line and took three Israeli soldiers prisoner. A controversy arose over a UNIFIL videotape of UNIFIL vehicles that may have been used by Hizbollah in the abduction of the three soldiers.

 

That Hezbollah has been firing missiles at civilian populations in Israel continuously since 2000 is confirmed by a report of the Secretary-General about serious breaches of the ceasefire in the Shab'a farms area as far back as October 3, 2000 when Hezbollah fired 18 missiles and 33 mortar rounds at the IDF. On 22 October, Hezbollah fired 10 missiles and 61 mortar rounds at five IDF positions.

 

The secretary general reported that the Lebanese Government continued to let Hezbollah operate close to the Blue Line and that on several occasions; Hezbollah personnel interfered with the freedom of movement of UNIFIL. His repeated urging that the Lebanese Government take more steps to extend its authority to all of southern Lebanon, as called for by the Council, have been ignored over the years.

 

In his report dated July 12, 2002, the Secretary-General reported militant activities carried out by Hezbollah, as well as Palestinian and unidentified elements both inside and outside the Shab'a farms area.

 

In the most serious incident, on 4 April, about 15 Hezbollah personnel forced an Observer Group Lebanon patrol south-west of Kafr Shuba to stop at gunpoint and assaulted the observers with rifle butts, injuring three, one seriously.

 

In the secretary general’s report for the period July 2004 – January 2005 he referred to the resumption of military measures, for which Hezbollah took credit, asserting its claimed prerogative to resist Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory by force. The UN had made abundantly clear that no violations of the Blue Line were acceptable.  The continually asserted position of the Government of Lebanon that the Blue Line was not valid in the Shab'a farms area was not compatible with Security Council resolutions. The Council has recognized the Blue Line as valid for purposes of confirming Israel 's withdrawal pursuant to resolution 425 (1978). The Security Council urged the Government of Lebanon to heed the Council's repeated calls for the parties to respect the Blue Line in its entirety.

 

The Secretary-General said that the rocket-firing incidents perpetrated by individuals allegedly affiliated with Palestinian militant factions demonstrated the volatility of the sector. 

 

Hostilities escalated in May 2005 with armed exchanges between Hezbollah and the IDF and rocket firing described by the secretary general as unidentified armed elements.

 

The report went on to say that since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri on 14 February, Lebanese armed forces had to show that they could maintain effective security throughout the country,

 

In the period July 2005—January 2006 the Secretary-General pointed particularly to the November 2005 Hizbollah attack, which had led to a heavy exchange of fire with IDF. He also warned that the rocket firing incidents by unidentified armed elements of August and December had significant potential for military escalation. Persistent Israeli air incursions into Lebanese airspace also disrupted the fragile calm.

 

With the present revelation of Hizbollah’s huge arsenal of sophisticated weapons it is obvious that Hizbollah has used the past six years to prepare for a major confrontation with Israel, which would have come later if not now. What has become all too obvious too, is that Hizbollah has no qualms about contravening humanitarian laws by conducting its operations from the midst of civilian populations and by deliberately targeting its deadly missiles at civilian populations.

 

 

 

 

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