Second Lebanon War Begins
Map: Israel MFA

July 12, 2006

The Second Lebanon War begins when Hezbollah launches Katyusha rockets and mortars at Israeli border towns and Israel Defense Forces positions, a diversion for a raid across the border to ambush an IDF patrol. What Hezbollah calls Operation Truthful Promise kills three Israeli soldiers and abducts two others, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, and takes them to Lebanon in the hope of exchanging them for Lebanese prisoners held by Israel. Five Israelis are killed in a failed rescue effort, and the fighting flares.

The First Lebanon War began in 1982 when Israel invaded its northern neighbor to drive Palestine Liberation Organization forces out of bases in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, a Shiite militia, was born that year. After the PLO left Lebanon, Hezbollah grew into a powerful political and military movement with Syrian backing. Israel ended 18 years of occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000. With Iranian money and weapons, Hezbollah consolidated control over the border area, from which it struck Israel with raids and missiles. It pioneered its cross-border raids to capture Israeli soldiers with an ambush that captured Adi Avitan, Omer Soued and Binyamin Avraham on Oct. 7, 2000; Hezbollah killed the three soldiers and held their bodies until it could arrange a prisoner exchange in 2004.

The war continues until the U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 1701 on Aug. 11. It calls for a permanent cease-fire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon and of Hezbollah and all other militias from the area south of Lebanon’s Litani River, the presence of an enlarged U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon in that area, and the return of all Israeli prisoners. The cease-fire goes into effect Aug. 14, although Hezbollah rocket attacks and skirmishes continue the next day.

The war kills 19 Israeli civilians and 121 IDF soldiers. In addition, 1,384 civilians and 1,244 soldiers are wounded. Hezbollah fires 3,990 rockets at Israeli civilian targets during the war. Hezbollah, which claims victory by resisting the IDF and surviving, loses an estimated 500 to 600 soldiers, and more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians are killed. Hezbollah returns the bodies of Regev and Goldwasser to Israel in exchange for prisoners and bodies July 16, 2008.