The war that began between Israel and the Hezbollah in Lebanon on July 12 2006 did not begin in a vacuum
In the 1960’it was said that Lebanon would be the second country to make peace with Israel. It had not territorial disputes with Israel and was ready to make peace as soon as someone else did. All that changed in 1970 when the PLO who was based in Jordan overplayed their hand and hijacked three airliners and had them fly to an abandoned air base in Jordan. That action underscored the helplessness of the Jordanian army to control its own country. King Hussein concluded that this state of affairs could continue no longer and after a quick but bloody conflict ousted the PLO from Jordan. The PLO then established its headquarters in the Lebanon. Lebanon quickly became the PLO main base of operations against Israel. After a particularly bloody terror attack on Israel from Lebanon in 1978, Israel responded by a large-scale incursion into the Lebanon. The Israelis limited their attack to the area South of the Litani River. Even though the Israelis succeeded in pushing the PLO away from the border area, once the Israelis withdrew the PLO returned. In 1982 after continued attacks from Lebanon including rocket attacks on Northern Israel, Israel with Ariel Sharon as Defense Minister launched a large-scale attack on Lebanon whose goals were regime change in Lebanon. Israel was intervening in the ongoing Civil War on the side of the Lebanese Christians who they believed would be able with their victory to sign a peace agreement with Israel. Israel was military successful quickly reaching parts of the Beirut and succeeded in forcing the PLO leadership to leave Lebanon. However, it soon found itself bogged down in the politics of the country, and its invasion gave birth to Hezbollah (the army of God), which became the main Lebanese Shiite force in Lebanon and soon led the opposition to the Israeli occupation. In 1984 Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon limiting itself to a small security zone along the border. In the ensuing years the Hezbollah continued its opposition to the Israeli presence and waged an ongoing campaign against Israeli forces there. In 1999 Ehud Barak was elected to be Israel’s Prime minister. He promised to find a way to withdraw Israeli troops from Lebanon within a year. After finding it impossible to negotiate a withdrawal he unilaterally withdrew Israeli troops from Lebanon, thus fulfilling UN Resolution 1559. The UN certified that the Israeli withdrawal was complete. Hezbollah on the other hand claim the conflict had not been ended as Israel was still occupying an area called the Sabath Farms and small area capture by Israel from Syria in 1967 but territory that Lebanon claimed. There continued to be a number of border incidents were the Hezbollah began shelling Israeli position along the border, usually in the area near the Shabach Farms. In 2004 Hezbollah coordinated the kidnapping of an Israeli businessman and reserve colonel in the Israeli army. In return for his safe return Israel agreed to the release of over 400 prisoners. In the meantime Hezbollah placed thousands of to Katusha rockets throughout Southern Lebanon that have the ability from of hitting targets throughout Northern Israel
In August 2005 Israel completed a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. It was the hope of Israel and much of the west that the Palestinians in Gaza would concentrate on building the beginnings of a State there. Instead various Palestinian groups continued to fire a constant barrage of home made missiles at Israel. On June 29th a group of fighters from Gaza including those from the Hamas, who was the official government of the Palestinians, attacked an Israeli army position outside of the Gaza Strip and abducted an Israeli soldier. The combined kidnapping and incessant firing of missiles prompted Israel to reenter the Gaza Strip in search of the soldier and to stop the missile fire. Two weeks later the Hezbollah crossed the Israeli border and ambushed an Israeli patrol killing 3 soldiers and kidnapping two other soldiers. Hezbollah killed an additional five Israeli soldiers in a well-planned further ambush when Israeli troops tried to pursue the kidnappers.
The Hezbollah demanded the release of thousands of Palestinian and three Lebanese in return for the release of the soldiers. The Israeli government was faced with a difficult dilemmas- One choice was to engage in negotiation as had been done in the past- further weakening Israel’s deterrent capability as well as making it harder to justify further withdrawals that were being interpreted as a sign of weakness by many Arabs. On the other hand any significant response would result in the Hezbollah using the rockets that it had aimed at Israel. Israel decision was it could no longer allow the Hezbollah to act without consequences and even if the cost might be high, Israel had no choice but to respond in the strongest terms to the attack.