Five years since the Second Lebanon War, Lebanon has become a terrorist stronghold supplied by Syria and subservient to Iran, writes Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed on Friday, August 12.
South of Lebanon’s Litani River, many villages lay in ruin. Others were deserted, their inhabitants having fled northward to Beirut. Across the border, Israeli civilians emerged from shelters to find their neighborhoods ravaged by thousands of Katyusha rockets. The surrounding forests were scorched. Israeli troops deployed throughout southern Lebanon, poised to deal a decisive blow to Hezbollah, but they did not. At that moment, 8 a.m. on Aug. 14, 2006—five years ago this weekend—the guns of the Second Lebanon War fell silent.
The roots of that conflict ran deep. Responding to attacks from Palestinian groups based in Lebanon, Israel invaded the country in 1982. It sought to free the country from terror and Syrian occupation, and to support the emergence of a pro-Western democratic government committed to peace.
These goals—a distant dream for Lebanon today—were nearly achieved. But the massacre of Palestinians by Christian militiamen in Beirut generated international pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces. They remained in a defensive belt along the border for the next 18 years, before fully withdrawing. On May 25, 2000, the First Lebanon War, as it is now known, ended.
The vacuum in Lebanon was filled by Hezbollah—the Party of Allah, in Arabic. The presence of Israeli troops in Lebanon did not create Hezbollah, no more than the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia created al Qaeda. Rather, Hezbollah sprang from the resentment of Lebanon’s long-oppressed Shiite population, and the bounteous backing of Iran.
Continue reading The Lessons of the Second Lebanon War.