On July 12, 2006, Lebanese Shia Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers and killed three others on the northern Israeli border. Their professed goals were to swap the soldiers for three Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails and to support the besieged Palestinians. Such raids and prisoner swaps have been successful in the past, and indeed have been the only way to obtain concessions from Israel, because otherwise Israel prefers a unilateral approach: to dictate the terms of political agreements without talking to the other side and then back it up with overwhelming fire power or the threat of it.
Hezbollah expected a strong Israeli response aimed at Hezbollah leaders, fighters, and areas followed by negotiations, and minimal civilian casualties on both sides. This is how things had happened in the past, under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Instead, the new Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, without warning or discussion, bombarded Lebanon with aerial attacks from the Shia south to the Christian north, targeting civilian areas and infrastructure including villages and suburbs, roads, bridges, ports, Beirutís civilian airport, factories, a dairy farm, cell phone towers, homes, apartment buildings, and fleeing vehicles full of terrified families. Israel also targeted a power station in Tyre, creating an oil spill half as large as the Exxon Valdez spill that devastated the entire Lebanese coastline, including fisheries, sea turtle hatcheries, and picturesque tourist beaches.
The destruction and devastation came during a bumper tourist season for the relatively liberal, cosmopolitan country struggling to rebuild itself after a decades-long civil war and crippling invasions by Israel and Syria. 25,000 Americans were among the millions of innocent people trapped and terrified by the shocking and indiscriminate attacks.
In response to the attacks, Hezbollah began firing rockets toward Israeli towns and cities, including Haifa, Israelís third largest city. Many Israelis in the north were forced into bomb shelters, some forests in the Galilee were set ablaze, and several homes and buildings were damaged. But compared to the destruction in Lebanon, the physical damage to Israel was negligible.
In 34 days of war, Israel killed well over 1,000 Lebanese, overwhelmingly mostly innocent civilians, about a third of them children. Hezbollah rockets killed 40 Israeli civilians, and Hezbollah (as well as friendly fire and accidents) killed about 120 Israeli soldiers.
A million Lebanese were displaced inside Lebanon when they fled the relentless bombardments. Tens of thousands more were trapped in the south with bombs falling on their villages but unable to leave because of Israel's indiscriminate shelling of fleeing vehicles and even ambulances and aid convoys. Israel also repeatedly hit a UN observer post and killed four UN peacekeepers and two civilian UN workers.
Israel's grossly disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks were illegal according the the Geneva Conventions, to which Israel is a signatory. They were also severely counterproductive to Israel's (and America's) security. In various sections of this website, I present evidence to support these claims.
For articles that attempt to explain the rationale of people who support Israel's current policies, see the relevant subsection of the Articles section.
Comments, corrections, counter-arguments, and suggestions for improvement are most welcome and should be directed to pamolson02 @ yahoo.com.
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