By Brian Wen
For decades now, a constant militaristic struggle has yet to cease. No, not Afghanistan. No, not Iraq, Iran or Saudi Arabia either. But one of the allies of the US ever since its creation in 1948 – Israel with his next door neighbor Lebanon. Due to the formation of Israel, many Arab countries have instigated violence against the UN created country, resulting in the deaths thousands of men on both sides of the battlefield. Years and years of fighting and guerrilla attacks, the most recent and probably the most serious one being the attacks of January 2015, has gotten the two countries into a midst of terror and turmoil. Yet the two countries never actually settled on any peace agreements of any kind after almost 70 years. What has been happening in this area of the Middle East that resulted in such tension and brutality?
Taking a look back in time, the violence between the two Arab countries never really ensued until the late 1960’s, when Palestinian guerrillas became increasingly active. Due to the attack on an Israeli airline in 1968 caused by the Lebanese, Israeli commandos targeted and bombed 13 Lebanese airlines in Beirut in retaliation. Seeing the ruthlessness Israel could potentially release, Lebanon signed an agreement allowing the Palestinian guerrillas to occupy the southern portion of their country as a offensive and defensive maneuver. Now, things really began to escalate. Both Israel and Lebanon initiated numerous attacks on major cities and infrastructure. In 1974, Palestinian troops invaded the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona, killing 16 civilians, most of which were women and children. Just a month following this episode of violence, another attack on a school in Maalot resulted in the deaths of 20 more teenagers.
Israel, like any other country, didn’t just sit back and watch as the Palestinian guerillas and Lebanese soldiers rampaged through their country. Despite the enormous aggression from the Lebanese, they decided to invade Lebanon directly. Twice, actually, with Operation Litani in 1978, which secured the southern portion of Lebanon as part of Israel, and the 1982 Lebanon War that resulted in the deaths of approximately 5,000-8,000 civilians. Due to Israeli intervention directly in Lebanon, the Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, was fully consolidated, with the primary purpose of expelling the Israeli out of Lebanon. They succeed for the most part, as Israeli troops withdrew in 2000.
Both the Hezbollah and the Israeli have had possession of missiles and rockets for quite a while now, which led both countries spiralling into the 2006 Lebanon War, yet another war – shocking. On July 12, 2006, the Hezbollah initiated rocket attacks on villages along the Israeli-Lebanese border, killing 8 people, while also kidnapping 2 others. Israel responded with massive airstrikes throughout Lebanon as well as a ground invasion. In August of 2006, the UN intervened and both sides agreed to a ceasefire, but over 1,100 Lebanese and Israeli citizens lost their lives.
But, unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. In the past 9 years, countless attacks resulted in the deaths of countless soldiers as both sides exchanged fire between the border.
The most recent activity between the two countries arose in January of 2015, only a few months ago. Hezbollah killed 2 soldiers in retaliation of an airstrike that occurred 9 days prior to this incident, which raises the potential for extreme warfare. Since 2006, both countries have improved their militaristic capabilities by creating more missiles and rockets while strengthening their soldiers. Both countries have also built air defenses against the rockets used, and all in all, the war seems to be at a continuous stalemate. But fighting done between the two countries not only causes civilian and military casualties, it produces infrastructure destruction and economic devastation for both countries.
Looking into the future, the fate of the two countries look bleak and desolate. These two Arab nations have fought for virtually 70 years, yet continuously engage in warfare without any restraint. It must be hard for the Israeli and Lebanese citizens to live a normal life, wondering everyday, “When will it end?”