What Happened to Lebanon?

Ever since the early days of Zionism, the idea of Lebanon has conjured up a fantasy of pleasant neighborliness with a pro-Western state. Yet in reality, this was never more than an illusion: Lebanon was born in sin, never evolving beyond a collection of conflicting religious communities and families, and was subsequently seized by the PLO and later Hezbollah. A historical journey alongside the Litani River.

“A good fence. A station of human gesture. Yesterday’s enemies — who perhaps were never truly enemies, but rather victims of imposed circumstances — seek to enter Israeli territory, to the splendid orchards of Metula. They seek the two coveted huts of the clinic, in one of which sits a man in military uniform. Beneath his olive drab, sits a doctor. A savior. The man who can alleviate suffering, solve problems and illnesses. Often — the man who will gift them their lives.

[…] You do not know what will happen tomorrow and why. But for now, the scent of Metula’s apples and the echoes of Katyusha rockets are still stored in our collective memory. And next to the good fence, Lebanese citizens mumble words of thanks – for the bread given to them, for the medicine supplied for their pain, for new lives granted to them from the eastern side of the broken fence at the border.”

(Menachem Talmi, ‘A Good Fence and the Scent of Apples’, Maariv, 17/09/1976)

“Look, I’ll tell you the truth, seriously, I wasn’t into it until yesterday either. But yesterday they brought us some Orientalist and he gave us a lecture, and it goes like this:

The Christians hate the Druze, the Shiites, the Sunnis, and the Palestinians. And the Druze hate the Christians.

No… Yes… The Druze hate the Christians, the Shiites, and the Syrians.

The Sunnis hate whoever their leader tells them to hate. The Shiites, they’ve been screwed over all these years, so they hate everyone. And the Palestinians hate each other. Apart from that, they hate the others.

Now they all have one common denominator:

They all really hate us, the Israelis. They would like to blow us to pieces if they could. But they can’t – because of the IDF…

Well, not all of the IDF – just the suckers who are in Lebanon.”

(Georgie, a ‘Matolist’ or a soldier carrying a grenade or rocket launcher, from the film ‘Two Fingers from Sidon’ produced by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit in 1986).[1]



Ever since the early stages of modern Jewish settlement in the land of Israel, and for much of the last century, Lebanon was seen as a symbolic embodiment of potential friendship and cooperation with the Jewish communities in Palestine, also known as the Yishuv, and later with the State of Israel. However, this perception of Lebanon has shifted dramatically in recent decades. Rather than serving as a beacon of hope and peaceful relations, Lebanon has evolved into a source of profound and immobilizing dread for Israelis, an imminent and existential threat from the north.

The Lebanese state was formally established by the French Mandate authorities in September 1920 to serve as a national home for the Christian Maronite community, the largest sect in the country at that time. As such, it was perceived by the Zionist movement as a natural ally — a desired link in a chain of minority communities in the Middle East with which it sought to establish a “Minorities Alliance” against the surrounding Arab Muslim majority. However, repeated efforts by the Zionist movement and later the State of Israel to establish such an alliance proved futile.[2]

In June 1982, when Israel launched Operation Peace for Galilee – later known as the First Lebanon War – it seemed that this dream of a Lebanese-Israeli friendship was just around the corner: one of the war’s objectives was to establish a Lebanese government friendly to Israel under the leadership of Bashir Gemayel, a member of a notable  Maronite family and commander of the Lebanese Forces, the sectarian militia of Maronite Christians in the country. However, this dream – or perhaps illusion – of Israeli-Lebanese friendship was quickly shattered, not only due to Gemayel’s assassination by the Syrians shortly after being elected President of Lebanon, but also because he and his supporters proved to be a broken reed, unreliable in their word and therefore in their friendship.[3]

The aspiration for an Israeli-Lebanese alliance has long since faded away. The shift took place as the Maronite Christians, who were historically the focus of Israel’s hopes for collaboration, diminished in their dominance within Lebanon. Consequently, their willingness and capacity to foster amicable and peaceful relations with Israel, if such things ever truly existed, have markedly declined. In the 70s and 80s, they faced challenges from the Sunni and Druze communities, which were supported by the PLO, while since the 90s, the Shia terrorist organization Hezbollah has emerged as the leading power in Lebanon.

In truth, from the very beginning there was no substance to the idea of an Israeli-Lebanese alliance, nor to the Zionist-Maronite one. However, Israel, desperately seeking a friend and ally within the hostile Arab world surrounding it, preferred to cling to fantasies that would never come to fruition.

In the past, some viewed Israel and Lebanon as two states with similar characteristics — as comparable entities that cherish diversity and are characterized by freedom and openness. However, in truth, Lebanon embodies everything Israel does not want to be and never will be. Lebanon is a “non-state,” and in essence has never really functioned as a formal state. From its inception, it was a fragile and hollow framework, a collection of sects and prominent families lacking any common denominator, hiding behind slogans like “live and let live,” or “in Lebanon, there are no victors and no vanquished. ”

The story of Lebanon is a tragedy foretold; a country whose citizens destroyed it with their own hands and, in fact, never bothered to establish and build it in the first place. Similarly, the story of the relationship between Israel and Lebanon is a tragedy in which Israel muddled about because it ignored the writing on the wall and failed to distance itself from the clearly-dissolving Lebanese situation.

The Lebanon of recent decades is different from the one we presumed to know over the last century. It is a country overshadowed by Iran, which seeks to supplant Lebanon’s identity and character with its own influence, primarily through Hezbollah. It is difficult to determine whether this attempt will succeed; many in Lebanon actually rely on the country’s inherent chaos.

However, even if the threat of Hezbollah is one day neutralized, Israel must realize that it cannot expect anything substantial from Lebanon. Lebanon has previously offered and may offer in the future a kind of oasis of leisure, business opportunities, stunning landscapes, and skiing destinations for the Middle East, but it cannot offer anything beyond that. Regrettably, a sober Israel must turn its back on Lebanon, an entity whose essence is neither true friendship nor friendship at all. Lebanon should not be respected; towards Lebanon, one must always be wary.

First Contact/New Beginnings

On May 17, 1896, the settlement of Metula was founded on lands by Edmond de Rothschild a few years earlier. Following the end of World War I, Metula was transferred to the French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon. During the 1920 riots, it was attacked by Arab rioters and temporarily abandoned by its inhabitants, who returned at the end of the same year. Initially, the boundary between French and British control was vaguely defined, but over the years it underwent several revisions. Ultimately, Metula was designated as part of the territory of Mandatory Palestine.

The Zionist movement, meanwhile, sought to establish the Litani River, the natural northern boundary of the Land of Israel, as the state’s political border. Up until World War I, there were also efforts to settle Jewish inhabitants in the area south of the Litani. However, the British and French preferred to leave the southern region of modern-day Lebanon within Lebanese territory because it was predominantly populated by the Shia community[4]. The border established – the same one we know today – will lack clear geographical or historical logic.

The settlers of Metula and their Shia neighbors in southern Lebanon, led by the Al-Asaad family from the village of Taybeh and the Abdallah family from Al-Khiyam, maintained good but self-interested neighborly relations. The respected Shia leaders provided protection to their Jewish neighbors in exchange for generous financial compensation. This relationship was evident when their Shia neighbors came to the aid of the defenders of Tel Hai following a bloody attack by Bedouin rioters on March 1, 1920, in which Joseph Trumpeldor lost his life. Following the attack, the Tel Hai defenders moved to Kfar Giladi, and on March 3, 1920, were transferred to the Shia village of Adaisseh. From there, they, along with the residents of Metula, moved to the Lebanese village of Taybeh (about 5 km west of Metula), where they received protection and shelter under the leadership of Kamel Al-Asaad, a Shia leader in the village. It was only later that the people of Tel Hai and Metula were moved to Ayelet HaShachar, a settlement which exists to this day.

The Jewish community reciprocated the kindness of their Shia benefactors. When the French suppressed the Shia settlements in southern Lebanon to assert their dominance in the area, Kamel Al-Asaad found refuge with his Jewish friends in Rosh Pina. They even lobbied the British Mandate authorities on his behalf, striving to prevent his extradition to France.

Throughout most of the Mandate years, Kamel Al-Asaad, and later his son and successor, Ahmad Al-Asaad, maintained friendly relations with their Jewish neighbors. They were also involved in the selling of lands they owned in Israel to the Jewish Agency. However, during the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, Al-Asaad provided assistance to Arab militias operating from Lebanese territory. With the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1948, Ahmad Al-Asaad, then the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, like other prominent Lebanese figures from every community, adopted a strong anti-Zionist stance. He even provided support to Fawzi al-Qawuqji’s Arab Liberation Army in its war against the Yishuv. In response, Israeli fighters from the Yiftach Brigade of the Palmach bombed Assad’s house in Taybeh in May 1948. Relations with Al-Asaad were renewed in November 1948, but proved to be futile and of no practical significance.

The Shia presence in Israel ended with the War of Independence. This involved seven Shia villages, the largest of which was Hunin (near Manara in the northwest), where about three thousand Shia lived. These villagers found themselves on the Israeli side of the border following the demarcation between Mandatory Palestine and Lebanon, yet they continued to maintain their Lebanese identity and connections to Lebanon. However, during the War of Independence, these villages were destroyed and their inhabitants moved to Lebanon, where they were accepted as full Lebanese citizens, in stark contrast to the Palestinian refugees who were not integrated into Lebanese society. In later years, Hezbollah would demand the opening of the “Seven Villages Dossier” and call for their return to Lebanese sovereignty.

The relationship between Israel and the Shia communities in southern Lebanon persisted even after Israel’s founding, albeit in a restricted and localized manner. Notably, Israel in 1958 facilitated the transfer of arms to the Shia in southern Lebanon. These arms, originally sent by the Shah of Iran, were intended to support the pro-Western government of President Camille Chamoun during the civil strife in Lebanon at that time[5].

In 1964, Kamel Al-Asaad, a nephew of Ahmad Al-Asaad, succeeded him as Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament. During the First Lebanon War in 1982, Kamel Al-Asaad offered to collaborate with Israel to help restore peace and stability to southern Lebanon. However, Israel disregarded this overture, underestimating the significance of the Shia community and instead focusing on its alliances with the Maronites. Kamel’s son and successor, Ahmad Al-Asaad, is a staunch opponent of Hezbollah. Yet, in a twist of family dynamics, another relative, Ali Fayad (who is related through the marriage of his niece), joined the “Loyalty to the Resistance” Bloc (the political wing of Hezbollah) and represents the village of Taybeh and its surroundings in the Lebanese Parliament. The village itself has become a stronghold of Hezbollah and a base for its military operations against Israel.

While the future of Lebanon remains unpredictable, it is clear that the Al-Asaad family will continue to lead the Taybeh region and its surroundings[6].

Throughout the broader course of Lebanese history and the Israel-Lebanon relationship, the story of good neighborliness between Jews and their Shia neighbors in southern Lebanon, as well as between other communities, remains a peripheral anecdote of local significance. This is not only because the Shia neighbors transformed from friends to a threatening enemy, but also because during those formative years in Lebanon’s history and its relationship with Israel, the latter did not attribute significant importance to the Shia, who were perceived as a weak and disunited community, easily manipulated by their feudal leaders. The Zionist movement, and later the State of Israel, chose to focus their attention on the Maronite community, the then-largest sect in early 20th-century Lebanon.

The Original Sin in Establishing the Lebanese State

On September 1, 1920, the French established the state of “Greater Lebanon.” This new state emerged ostensibly as a direct continuation of the “Autonomous District of Mount Lebanon” (Mutasarrifiya), established by the Ottoman Empire under Western pressure in the mid-19th century. The French decision was at least partially grounded in the historical reality – political, socio-economic, and cultural – that had existed for centuries in the Mount Lebanon area, the cornerstone and the origin of what would eventually become the Lebanese state[7].

The region of Mount Lebanon stood out in its uniqueness compared to its geographical surroundings. This uniqueness was rooted in the area’s topography – being a mountainous region difficult to access; the demographic composition of its population – serving as a refuge for minority communities, primarily the Maronites and alongside them, the Druze; and in the history of the mountain – the existence of a political entity over centuries. Initially, there were the Emirs of Mount Lebanon, who emerged in the 16th century and were controlled by Druze dynasties, first the Maan and then the Shihab (whose members converted over the years from Druze to Maronite), and later, from the mid-19th century, the “Autonomous District of Mount Lebanon,” established under an international agreement signed by the Ottoman Empire and Western powers[8].

The majority of Mount Lebanon’s inhabitants were Maronites, among whom a distinct ethnic and even national identity emerged in the late 19th century. This identity was based on the claim that Maronites were not of Arab origin but instead descendants of the Phoenicians, the ancient inhabitants of the Lebanese coastal strip. This was a short step to the Maronite claim for self-definition and a homeland, which underpinned the French decision in September 1920 to establish a Lebanese state, intended to serve as a national home for the Maronites.

However, the Lebanese state established by the French didn’t just encompass Mount Lebanon, historically characterized by a Christian majority (85%), mainly Maronites (with the remainder being Druze). It also included surrounding territories with more tenuous connections to Mount Lebanon: the coastal plain, with cities like Beirut, Tripoli, Tyre, and Sidon; the Beqaa Valley; and Southern Lebanon (Jabal Amel). These areas were populated by Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and other non-Maronite Christian communities[9].

The creation of “Greater Lebanon” thus brought about a new demographic reality. The proportion of Christians in the overall population dropped from around 85% (their share in Mount Lebanon) to 54% within the newly formed Lebanese state, according to the last – and only – census, conducted in Lebanon in 1932. The share of the Maronites, the former backbone of the Lebanese state, decreased from nearly 70% among the residents of Mount Lebanon to just 29% of the population in “Greater Lebanon.” In contrast, the Muslim communities accounted for about 46% of the population of “Greater Lebanon.” Sunni Muslims, the largest and most significant among the Muslim communities at that time, comprised around 22% of the Lebanese population, while the Shia accounted for about 18%. The Druze were marginalized to a minority status, constituting about 5% of the Lebanese population[10].

The inclination of Christians to emigrate to Western countries, a trend that began in the mid-19th century and increased over time, combined with the particularly high natural growth rate among the Muslim communities, especially the Shia, exacerbated the demographic challenge of “Greater Lebanon.” By the 1970s, it was generally assumed that the Christian share of Lebanon’s population had decreased to about 40%, and by the end of the 20th century, it had further dwindled to approximately between one quarter to one third of the total population. It is important to note that alongside the shift in the demographic balance between Muslims and Christians, a significant transformation occurred within the Muslim camp during the latter half of the 20th century. The Shia community, which was once the third largest in the country (about 18% of the population) and politically marginal, mostly residing in rural peripheries, had now become the largest community in Lebanon, constituting roughly a third of the population[11].

This demographic shift has had profound implications for Lebanon’s political landscape, as the Shia community, once on the fringes of Lebanese politics, has gained significant influence and power.

Broad segments of the Maronite community, led by the Maronite Church, leaned on the French to guarantee Maronite hegemony in Lebanon amidst opposition from other communities, particularly the Sunnis. However, given the demographic shifts in Lebanon and the decline of France’s status as the Maronite’s patron following World War II, the Maronites were compelled to agree to a compromise with other communities, known as the “National Pact” in 1943. This agreement established a confessional system for distributing governmental power, wherein the President would be a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni, and the Speaker of the Parliament a Shia. The number of members in the Parliament was set as a multiple of 11, with a 6:5 ratio of Christians to Muslims. This system was a direct continuation of the 1926 Lebanese Constitution, which enshrined “confessionalism,” i.e., a person’s religious affiliation, as the key to the political system[12].

However, it’s important to remember that Lebanon’s history isn’t defined only by the tension between the rival religious camps of Christians and Muslims. Within each religious camp, there existed rivalry among different communities: Sunnis, Shias, and Druze in the Muslim camp; Maronites, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Armenians, and others in the Christian camp. Yet even this confessional key is insufficient to fully explain Lebanon’s historical trajectory, for the primary identity framework in Lebanon has been, and to a large extent remains, the family. In Lebanon, a person, regardless of status or role, first and foremost represented their family and its interests[13]. Families, not sects, are the true key to understanding Lebanese history. These prominent families governed social and political life, previously within their communities, in a patron-client manner. These families allied in struggles against other communities for status, power, and influence, while also frequently engaging in internal conflicts for control over their own community.

The 1943 Pact, therefore, established Lebanon as a state of communities, or more accurately, as a state of notables and families – a loosely structured and non-binding framework allowing each community and family almost complete autonomy in managing their affairs. This situation allowed for extended periods of political pluralism and unprecedented economic prosperity by Middle Eastern standards. However, this reality was fundamentally chaotic and resulted in persistent anarchy, occasionally descending into bloody conflicts, and as is well known, eventually leading to the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in April 1975.

The Second to Make Peace with Israel

From the early days of Jewish settlement in Israel, the Zionist movement, and later the State of Israel, saw Lebanon, or more precisely the Maronite community, which then constituted the majority in Lebanon, as a partner in the “Minorities Alliance ” that the Yishuv sought to establish in the region. In Israel, there were even dreams of reviving the biblical alliance between the Davidic kings of Israel and the Phoenicians[14].

These dreams and hopes led to a series of contacts between the Zionist movement, and later the State of Israel, and the leaders of the Maronite community, starting as early as the 1930s. One of the prominent and promising figures in these talks was Emile Eddé, a leading figure in the Maronite community at the time, who was close to the French, and, with their support, was elected President of Lebanon in 1936. In June 1937, he met with Chaim Weizmann in Paris, and the two discussed the possibility of establishing a friendship agreement between the Yishuv and Lebanon. Eddé opened the meeting with the following words: “I wish to greet the first President of the future Jewish state and hope that the first agreement of friendship and good neighborly relations between the Jewish state and another country will be signed with Lebanon[15].” One reason for Eddé’s willingness to meet with Weizmann was the fact that the Prime Minister of France, Léon Blum, with whom Eddé was negotiating Lebanon’s independence, was Jewish himself, and therefore, Eddé believed, under the influence of the Zionist movement. However, the dialogue with Eddé did not lead to anything substantive, as he refrained from committing too strongly to a relationship with the Yishuv, a move that would have been contrary to his political interests within Lebanon.

Following the British capture of Syria and Lebanon from Vichy France in June 1941, relations were renewed between representatives of the Yishuv and Lebanese notables, especially the Maronite dignitaries. Among these was Bishara al-Khuri, a political rival of Emile Eddé, who in a meeting with Eliyahu Sasson – the head of the Arab department in the Jewish agency – in June 1941, even spoke in favor of removing the Shia from Southern Lebanon and resettling the area – with the help of the Zionist movement – with Maronites from abroad. Khuri, who would later become the first president of independent Lebanon in 1943, explained that: “between us and you stands a barrier that must be removed, and that is Jabal Amel (Southern Lebanon). It is necessary to evacuate its current Shia inhabitants, who pose a constant danger to both countries and who cooperated with the Arab militias of the Jerusalem Mufti during the riots. The area of Jabal Amel should be cleared of its (Shia) inhabitants and resettled after the war with Maronite Christians living in the United States, with financial assistance from the Yishuv… The implementation of this idea will allow Jews and Maronites to stand united against the Arab bloc in the East. The Jews, in particular, will be able to secure their northern flank in the Land of Israel[16].” However, nothing came of this meeting or similar ones, and Khuri himself, needing the support of Muslim communities for his presidential bid, adopted a Pan-Arab stance that saw Lebanon and the Maronites as part of the Arab world, with all its subsequent implications for his relations with Israel.

Another important interlocutor of the Zionist movement was the Maronite Patriarch, Anton Arida. The climax of contacts with him was the signing of a friendship agreement between the Jewish Agency and the Maronite Patriarchate. The agreement was signed on May 30, 1946, by Dov Yosef on behalf of the Jewish Agency and Toufic Aouad on behalf of the Maronite Patriarch. However, this agreement remained only on paper, as the Patriarch quickly disavowed it. Nevertheless, on August 5, 1947, the Maronite Archbishop of Beirut, Mubarak, submitted a pro-Zionist memorandum to where he expressed hope that Lebanon and the Land of Israel would serve as a national home for Christians and Jews living in the Middle East[17].

Most Maronite politicians – especially since Lebanon’s independence in 1943 – viewed the future of Lebanon, the Maronite community, and their own political fate as intertwined with the Muslim population in the country and of those in the surrounding region. The establishment of Israel was perceived by many as a threat to the fragile Muslim-Christian coexistence in Lebanon. There was a concern among some leaders, particularly in the Maronite community, that Israel might have territorial ambitions, such as annexing Southern Lebanon and controlling its water resources.

A significant expression of the Lebanese – specifically, Christian – leadership’s stance was articulated by Michel Chiha, a Greek Catholic, who was one of the founding fathers of independent Lebanon and a son-in-law and close associate of President Bishara al-Khuri. In May 1951, Chiha told an American diplomat that “Lebanon was prepared to live in coexistence and even to have trade relations with a moderate and rational Jewish state, but the fact that 800 Jews are arriving in Israel every day leads him and most of his friends in Lebanon to conclude that Israel will eventually have to expand further and further… We cannot plan for the future when we see the fingers of the Jews stretching more and more towards us[18].” Chiha, the editor of the newspaper Le Jour, exhibited such an anti-Zionist stance in his writings that in Israeli circles, it was said his writing was tainted with “real anti-Semitism.” In early 1949, Chiha met with Israeli representatives in Paris, denying being anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic, and even expressed hope for better future relations between the two countries, noting that Israel could replace France as the Western country protecting Lebanon. However, the Israeli interlocutors felt that he was “harboring a fear of our expansion” and tried “to alleviate this concern.” Regardless, this was a courteous meeting with no significance for the future of Lebanon’s relations – or those of the Maronite and Christian communities in general – with Israel[19].

Despite the reality, Israel continued to adhere to the idea that Lebanon was a predominantly Christian state, and therefore, a natural ally. This stance is reflected in the exchange of letters between David Ben-Gurion and then-Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett in 1954. Ben-Gurion, then in self-imposed exile at Sde Boker, proposed initiating a military coup in Lebanon to bring Israel’s Christian allies to power, ensuring friendly relations and cooperation between the two states. Ben-Gurion wrote to Sharett that:

“Lebanon is the weakest link in the Arab League chain… The Christians are the majority in historical Lebanon and have a tradition and culture entirely different from the rest of the League’s settlements. Even in the expanded borders, and this was France’s most serious mistake in expanding Lebanon’s borders… Establishing a Christian state here is natural, it has historical roots, and will find support among major forces in the Christian world, both Catholic and Protestant… Without reducing Lebanon’s borders, this is of course impossible, but there will be people and exiles in Lebanon who will enlist to establish a Maronite state – they do not need expanded borders and a large Muslim settlement, and that will not be the obstacle. I do not know if we have people in Lebanon – but there are all sorts of ways even we must try the proposed experiment.”

Sharett quickly dismissed these ideas, seeing them as fantasies disconnected from the Lebanese reality, especially given the political and demographic changes that Lebanon had undergone over the years. He pointed out that Ben-Gurion still perceived Lebanon as if it were the Mutasarrifiya (Autonomous District) of Mount Lebanon in the Ottoman period and was either unaware or choosing to ignore the demographic and other changes that had occurred there.[20]

However, Ben-Gurion was evidently able to distinguish between the Lebanese reality and his own wishful thinking, as he never did anything to actualize his vision.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the border with Lebanon remained relatively calm, except for occasional border violations, mostly for theft or attempts by Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israeli territory. These were addressed in meetings of the Israeli-Lebanese Armistice Commission, often led by the chiefs-of-staff of both armies[21]. In 1958, against the backdrop of the short-lived and predominantly political civil war in Lebanon (which was almost bloodless), Israel assisted in transferring arms from Iran – then under the Shah – to the government of Lebanese President Camille Chamoun, perceived as pro-Western and an opponent of Egypt’s President, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Chamoun, who served as Lebanon’s ambassador to the UN before the establishment of the State of Israel, was one of the Arab leaders who opposed the UN’s Partition Plan, likely in order to gain support from Lebanese Muslims for his political aspirations. However, after his presidency ended in 1958, he secretly visited Israel and began a dialogue with Israeli representatives. Nonetheless, subsequent Lebanese presidents returned to Lebanon’s traditional policy of prioritizing relations with the Arab world[22]. Still, Lebanon maintained peace along its border with Israel. In fact, during the War of Independence, the Lebanese army barely participated in the fighting, providing only assistance to Fawzi al-Qawuqji’s Arab Liberation Army. Later, in the 1960s, Lebanon refrained from participating in Syria’s project to divert the waters of the Jordan River, aimed at sabotaging Israel’s national water project. Lebanon also did little to participate in the Six Day War or the Yom Kippur War.

This relative calm on the Lebanese front led to the perpetuation of fanciful dreams about Israeli-Lebanese friendship. In the post-war euphoria in Israel, some even joked that if the IDF were required to fight in Lebanon, they would only need to send the IDF Orchestra, which would supposedly reach the capital, Beirut, by noon and return to Tel Aviv by evening to participate in victory ceremonies.

The fact that the Lebanese front was quiet contributed to the solidification of an Israeli perception that Lebanon did not pose a threat. Israel continued to view Lebanon as a country under Christian-Maronite hegemony, interested in living in peace with Israel but restrained from doing so due to fear of the surrounding Arab states. Lebanon was perceived by Israel during those years as a Western stronghold, a “Switzerland of the Middle East,” with its capital, Beirut, seen as the “Paris of the Middle East” – a politically open, economically prosperous country with a high standard of living, one even envied by Israelis in the 1950s and 60s. Lebanese television, the first to broadcast in the region in 1959[23], was for many Israelis what “Radio Ramallah” was in the 1950s, bringing a taste of Western culture and a sense of normalcy into their homes.

The First Lebanon War: Syrian or Israeli Order in Lebanon

In the mid-1960s, Palestinian terrorists began operations against Israel from the Lebanese border, particularly in the Arkoub area in the southeast of the country, a region that gained the nickname “Fatahland.” This activity was encouraged and often initiated by the Syrian Ba’ath regime. By the early 1970s, under pan-Arab pressure, Lebanon was compelled to accept the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters expelled from Jordan, transforming the country into a battleground and a base for Palestinian terror activities against Israel. These activities primarily included Katushya rocket attacks, ambushes, and mine-laying along the Israeli border, as well as international terrorism.

In response, Israel adopted a policy of retaliatory operations, exemplified by the December 1968 raid on Beirut Airport in response to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) attack on an El Al plane in Athens. This policy was also applied to Jordan, and, until the mid-1950s, to Egypt. In Jordan, this strategy proved effective; it strengthened King Hussein’s regime, leading to the expulsion of the PLO to Lebanon.

However, what worked in Jordan did not yield the same results in Lebanon. The latter found itself entangled in internal contradictions that paralyzed its political system, depriving it of any ability to halt the PLO’s actions against Israel. In Lebanon, the PLO received support from leftist elements and the traditional leadership of the Muslim camp, which sought to strengthen its standing among the Sunni population. All these factions sought to use the PLO as a bargaining chip in their struggle with the Christians over resources and power within the state. This led to an escalation and intensification of violence along the Israeli-Lebanese border: PLO terror activities, Israeli retaliatory strikes targeting Lebanese infrastructure, the Lebanese system’s helplessness against the PLO, the continuation of PLO terrorism, intensified Israeli responses, and so on in a vicious cycle.[24]

In April 1975, a civil war broke out in Lebanon. This war epitomized the failure of the Lebanese system to manage the internal tensions and contradictions between the country’s major power players. On one side was the “Status Quo Camp” or the “Conservative Camp,” led by Christians – particularly the Maronites – who aimed to preserve their dominant position in the state and Lebanese society. On the other side was the “Change Camp,” led by Muslims – especially the Sunnis, but also including the Druze – who sought to alter the distribution of power among the country’s religious communities[25]. The entry of the PLO into this dynamic was of great significance: it led the Sunnis and Druze to abandon the long-standing Lebanese political principle that in Lebanon’s wars, “there are no victors and no vanquished,” due to a balance of terror maintained among the communities and notable families. The” Change Camp” now possessed a significant advantage.

The battles broke out in April 1975 and quickly plunged the country into a bloody, indecisive civil war. The collapse of Lebanon’s state institutions initially led to Syrian military intervention in June 1976. However, this involvement did not lead to a decisive turn in the war, and all warring parties – the Lebanese power factions, alongside the PLO and Syria – found themselves mired in a quagmire, unable to resolve or end satisfactorily the rampant civil war.

In the early years of the Lebanese Civil War, Israel’s primary and, in fact, sole objective was to ensure peace along the Israeli-Lebanese border. When Maronite leaders approached Israel in 1976, seeking assistance against their adversaries, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin responded that, “Israel will help the Christians to help themselves.”[26] Israel also consented to the entry of Syrian forces into Lebanon in June 1976, assuming it would contribute to border tranquility. Israel and Syria reached a series of tacit agreements, wherein the Syrians committed not to fly over Lebanese skies and not to deploy their forces south of the Litani River, while Israel pledged not to harm the Syrian forces stationed in the country. Concurrently, Israel adopted the “Good Fence” policy, as mentioned earlier, providing both civilian and military aid to Maronite and Shia villages on the other side of the border.

However, the PLO was not idle; they disturbed the Israeli border settlements with Katyusha rocket attacks, instilling fear and causing significant damage to property and life. Additionally, certain areas in southern Lebanon became strongholds from which the organization carried out horrific attacks against Israelis, such as those remembered in, Ma’alot (1974), Nahariya (1979), and Misgav Am (1980). In March 1978, following the Coastal Road Massacre (the “Bloodbath Bus” incident), Israel launched a week-long military operation, ‘Operation Litani,’ aiming to strike at PLO infrastructure in southern Lebanon. By its conclusion, Israel had established a continuous strip of land along the border, known as “South Lebanon Security Belt” or “Haddad Enclave,” — named after Saad Haddad, who led a Maronite military militia operating in the area.

Operation Litani did not put an end to the PLO’s terror activities launched against Israel from Lebanese territory. The terrorists continued to bombard Israel with missiles, and even sent terror cells to carry out attacks within its borders. All attempts to halt these terror activities proved futile. This was also the fate of the “ceasefire” brokered by American envoy Philip Habib in the summer of 1981. The conclusion reached in Israel was that air strikes and limited operations were insufficient to eliminate the threat to the northern settlements, and a comprehensive military operation was required.

By the late 1970s, Bashir Gemayel, son of one of the prominent Maronite families, emerged as a leading figure within his community, leveraging the “Phalange Party” founded by his father, Pierre Gemayel, as a power base to promote his status.[27]

The young Gemayel, who established the “Lebanese Forces” as an overarching Christian militia, sought to entice Israel into deeper involvement to bolster his leadership within his community and in Lebanon at large. The desperate pleas of Gemayel and his associates for assistance resonated with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who believed that the Maronites in Lebanon were a minority facing genocide. As a member of the Jewish people, who had been abandoned by the world during World War II, Begin felt a duty to aid the Maronites against a similar fate.[28]

However, it would be erroneous to attribute the deepening of Israeli involvement in Lebanon solely to the individuals leading Israel since the late 1970s. Various elements within the Israeli security system, including the Mossad, were pushing for increased Israeli involvement in Lebanon. These elements were responsible for fostering relations with the Maronites, and the maintenance and promotion of Israel’s investment in the Maronites became an objective in and of itself. Within the IDF and even among the broader Israeli public, there was a prevailing assumption that the Maronites were natural allies of Israel, and that with a little support and encouragement, they could fundamentally change Lebanon in a way that would have positive strategic implications for Israel.[29]

Upon Ariel Sharon’s appointment as Minister of Defense in August 1981, he began earnestly advancing the “Big Pines” plan, a large-scale military operation in Lebanon. This was an expansion of the “Little Pines” plan, which proposed extending the security zone established by Israel with the help of Saad Haddad’s forces along the Israeli-Lebanese border to a range of 40 km from the border to prevent Katyusha rocket fire on Israeli settlements and infiltration attempts by terror groups. The “Big Pines” plan, in contrast, had four defined objectives as outlined by its planners: “First, the physical elimination of terrorists – both their political and military wings. Second, forcing Syrian forces to retreat from South Beqaa and the area between Beirut and Zahle. Third, establishing a sovereign government in Lebanon that would sign a peace treaty with Israel or at least coexist peacefully. Fourth, the complete cessation of shelling of Israeli settlements.” Besides these, the Israeli leadership had additional goals, including the diminishment of the Palestinian problem, as they believed that the loss of the PLO’s territorial foothold in Lebanon, where it had established a state within a state, would weaken the Palestinian national movement.[30]

In Israel, it was later revealed that Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had planned – as an advanced stage of the operation – to strike Jordan if it provided assistance to Syria against Israel. The intention behind such a move was possibly to overthrow the Hashemite regime in Jordan and establish a Palestinian state there, where the Palestinian issue could be resolved, rather than Israel being compelled to provide a solution.[31]

On June 3, 1982, activists of the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), a pro-Iraqi Palestinian faction led by Abu Abbas, assassinated the Israeli ambassador to Britain, Shlomo Argov. In response, on June 4, Israeli aircraft struck PLO targets in Lebanon. The PLO retaliated against targets in Israel, leading the Israeli government to instruct the IDF to launch “Operation Peace for Galilee” on June 6 with the aim of “removing all northern settlements from the firing range of the terrorists concentrated – along with their headquarters and bases – in Lebanon.” The government’s statement about the operation and its objectives also mentioned that the IDF was instructed “not to attack the Syrian army unless it attacks our forces,” and that “the State of Israel continues to aspire to sign a peace treaty with an independent Lebanon while maintaining its territorial integrity[32].” In the government meeting that approved the operation, ministers were informed that it might last 24–48 hours, with the operational goal of reaching a range of 40 km from the Israeli-Lebanese border, as this was the range of the Katyushas fired at Israeli settlements, which Israel sought to stop.[33]

The IDF embarked on a significant advancement along the coastal route and in the Mount Lebanon area, engaging in combat with . Remarkably, within six days, they reached the suburbs of Beirut. During their journey, the IDF forces were warmly received, even welcomed with showers of rice, by the Maronite and Shia villagers in South Lebanon, who expressed gratitude for their liberation from the oppression of the PLO. Simultaneously, the IDF targeted Syrian forces positioned in the Jezzine area, about 40 kilometers from the Israeli border. This action was in line with the Israeli government’s directive to remove Northern Israeli settlements from the range of Katyusha rockets. This marked the beginning of a comprehensive Israeli campaign against the Syrian military presence in Lebanon, including attacks on Syrian forces in the Bekaa Valley and an IDF advance towards the Beirut-Damascus highway, with the aim of gaining control over it. In parallel, an air defense missile system operated by the Syrians in the Bekaa Valley since April 1981 was attacked and destroyed.

The IDF then laid siege to West Beirut, where PLO forces were positioned. This prolonged siege involved attacks into the heart of Beirut, leading to civilian casualties, and consequently, a significant tarnishing of Israel’s international image. However, at the end of this campaign, Israel had achieved its objective. In August 1982, an agreement was reached for the withdrawal of the PLO and Syrian forces from Beirut. On August 23, Bashir Gemayel was elected President of Lebanon with 57 votes for and three against, out of the 62 electors who were either present or brought to the parliament, some escorted by Israeli soldiers.[34]

The swift campaign to Beirut, and the initial sense of achievement in the early days of the war may explain the statement of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin during an interview with Israeli television on June 15, 1982. He declared that “Operation Peace for Galilee” achieved two important goals: it healed the nation from the trauma of the Yom Kippur War and proved that the peace treaty with Egypt was a viable reality, even during the war in Lebanon”.[35]

However, the Israeli dream of peace was quickly shattered. On September 14, 1982, just two weeks after his election as president, Bashir Gemayel was assassinated in an explosion at the Phalange headquarters in Beirut, presumably orchestrated by the Syrians. Bashir Gemayel’s assassination marked the beginning of a prolonged Israeli disillusionment, dissolving the idea of establishing a pro-Israeli order in Lebanon. This event also signaled the start of .[36] Even before Gemayel’s death, Israel had an opportunity to understand his character, and, more importantly, the nature of his commitment to the Israeli-Maronite alliance. During a meeting between Menachem Begin and Bashir Gemayel at the Carlton Hotel in Nahariya on September 1, 1982, Begin demanded that Gemayel commit to signing a peace treaty with Israel. To Begin’s surprise, Gemayel expressed a desire to maintain a low-profile relationship with Israel and emphasized his commitment to preserving his family’s and the Maronite community’s ties with the Muslim communities in Lebanon and even Syria.[37]

Following Gemayel’s death, Israel took control of West Beirut, entrusting the control of the Palestinian refugee camps on the outskirts of the city to the Lebanese Forces. These forces carried out a revenge massacre against Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camps on September 16 and 17, 1982, during their attempt to take control of them. The massacre sparked severe criticism both domestically and internationally against the Israeli government, forcing the IDF to abandon its positions in Beirut and embark on a long and painful withdrawal towards the border.[38]

Israel endeavored to salvage some of its achievements from Operation Peace for Galilee, continuing, through American mediation and assistance, to negotiate a non-aggression agreement with the Lebanese government led by Amin Gemayel, Bashir’s brother and successor as President. This agreement was finally reached on May 17, 1983, but proved to be of little substance. It was never ratified by the Lebanese parliament and quickly became irrelevant. Within a year, the Lebanese government annulled it.[39]

The fighting in Lebanon forced Israel to confront a complex reality far different from what many Israelis had envisioned. It became evident that the allies Israel had come to aid were not keen on fighting their own battles and expected Israel to fight for them. The Lebanese, including Israel’s Maronite allies, preferred to continue their routine lives, even indulging in luxury in areas outside the immediate violence and conflict, leaving the Israelis infuriated. The Israelis also struggled to comprehend the brutality demonstrated by all warring parties in Lebanon – and their readiness to reconcile with those they had fought or been attacked by just days before.[40]

The PLO – a key player south of Beirut – was expelled from Lebanon but left the Sunni community without a military force to fight their battles against their adversaries. The situation of the Maronites was not much better. Their willingness to confront their enemies relied on the belief that Syria, and later Israel, would come to their aid and help maintain their dominant position in the country. However, this did not happen, leaving the Maronites and Sunnis, who had spurred the outbreak of the war in April 1975, without support. They began searching for ways to put an end to the war they now had no way of winning.[41]

In Lebanon, various actors, including Israel and Syria, were soon to discover that the PLO’s departure led to the rise of a new force, the Shia terror organization Hezbollah. Hezbollah began operating against IDF forces stationed in South Lebanon. Consequently, instead of serving as a buffer between the chaos in Lebanon and sovereign Israel, this area transformed into a bloody battlefield between the IDF and Hezbollah. The increasing influence of the Shia community in the Lebanese equation forced the unsupported Maronites and Sunnis – lacking Syrian or Israeli backing – to hasten an agreement to end the war before the Shia could gain further strength and become an even more significant threat.

The Taif Agreement, signed in 1989 under the auspices of Saudi Arabia and with Damascus’s blessing, benefitted the Sunnis by effectively making them equal to the Maronites in power. It also favored the Maronites by maintaining much of their political status in Lebanon despite their demographic decline, and ignored the demographic and military growth of the Shia community.[42]

The Taif Agreement ended the Lebanese Civil War and set the country on a new path under Syrian patronage, without affecting Hezbollah’s struggle against Israel. Hezbollah was not fond of the “Syrian order” in Lebanon but was forced to accept it. Over the years, Hezbollah learned to appreciate the advantages of a functioning Lebanese state that provided a protective and supportive environment, thereby relieving the organization from the responsibility of catering to the needs of the Shia community in Lebanon. However, Hezbollah’s message to other Lebanese players was clear: the Lebanese state could continue its path as long as it did not challenge the organization, interfere with its autonomy, or hinder its conflict with Israel.

Under the auspices of the Taif Agreement, efforts were made to rebuild the state from the ruins of the civil war, led by Sunni Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. In 2005, Hariri was assassinated by Hezbollah operatives with Syrian backing – an event that led to the end of direct Syrian control in Lebanon due to international pressure. Syria withdrew, but Hezbollah remained. This situation resulted in the coexistence of two parallel states in Lebanon: one, the Taif state, with all its sects and dignitaries, a non-functioning entity on the brink of political and economic collapse; and the other, the state of Hezbollah. Whenever a clash occurred between the desires of Lebanese actors and those of Hezbollah, it was Hezbollah’s will that prevailed.[43]

Ironically, the Sunnis and Maronites, who had once fought each other for control over Lebanon, now united in the face of the Shia threat. Thus, the struggle for hegemony in Lebanon, which throughout the twentieth century was primarily between the Sunni and Maronite communities, transformed into a contest between the Sunnis, who became the leading community due to the Taif Agreement, and the Shias, the rising force in Lebanon. This shift reflected the changing dynamics of the entire Middle East, where Iran emerged as a dominant Shia power casting its shadow over the Sunni realm. The Christians, particularly the Maronites, became secondary players in the Lebanese arena.

Days of Hezbollah

“We do not wish to fight, to destroy, or to throw anyone into the sea. We say in the most civilized way that you should get on planes or ships and go back to where you came from. Only Jews who lived in Palestine and were among its original inhabitants will be allowed to stay. The invaders, occupiers, and settlers who came from all over the world, must leave.”

The post-civil war era in Lebanon was notably marked by the ascendancy of the Shia community to a prominent position in the political sphere. This development was neither a creation of Israel nor a direct consequence of the expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon. The rise of the Shia community and the emergence of Hezbollah were in fact rooted in Lebanon’s internal dynamics and began years before these events. Key contributing factors included the increasing demographic significance of the Shia community, becoming the largest sect in the country; a widespread and rapid migration from rural areas to larger cities; and a movement of religious radicalization led by Musa Sadr, an Iranian cleric who arrived in Lebanon in the 1960s and founded the Amal Movement to advance the Shias’ status within the Lebanese system. Moreover, regional developments, especially the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, had a profound impact on Lebanon. The Shia community was on a trajectory of social and political activism, and possibly even violent conflict, to secure their position in Lebanon — a course of action that was eventually co-opted by Hezbollah.[45]

Hezbollah itself originated from terror cells formed in Lebanon in the early 1980s, with the encouragement and support of Iran. These cells consisted of Lebanese Shia activists, many of whom had studied religious texts in Iraq and Iran. Iran supported the organization from the beginning, with Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, even credited with naming it Hezbollah, which means “Party of God,” a term derived from the Quran.

Iran committed itself to exporting the Islamic Revolution while simultaneously seeking to advance its status in the region. Iran also had a strategic perception, shared by all its rulers, which views the region stretching from the Iranian highlands to the Mediterranean coast as vital to its security, necessitating control and influence through local forces, particularly the Shia communities living there.[46] With Iran’s aid and backing, Hezbollah became a cohesive military force, later evolving into a social, economic, and political power, exerting significant influence over Lebanon’s Shia population and aspiring to control the entire country.[47]

In 1985, Hezbollah publicly revealed its existence for the first time through the publication of its manifesto in an “Open Letter.” This document detailed its principles and objectives, most notably, the ultimate expulsion of Israel from Lebanon as a precursor to its eventual elimination and the liberation of Jerusalem; the expulsion of the USA, France, and their allies from Lebanon, and the elimination of Western influence in the country. This was part of Hezbollah’s vision of establishing an Islamic state in Lebanon based on the Iranian model, aimed at becoming part of a Shia-Islamic expanse stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean coast.[48]

Since the late 1980s, Hezbollah began focusing its military efforts on combating Israel, justifying itself by the struggle to liberate Lebanese territories held by Israel, particularly the security zone in South Lebanon. However, the security zone and the South Lebanon Army (SLA), operating under IDF sponsorship, did not collapse. It’s noteworthy that 70% of the security zone’s inhabitants and a similar percentage of SLA soldiers were Shia, most of whom chose to enjoy the benefits of serving in the SLA and remained committed to it – and implicitly, to Israel – rather than joining Hezbollah. Despite this, a perception grew among the Israeli public that Hezbollah had the upper hand in its conflict with the IDF. It seemed that Israel had remained stuck in a balance of mutually paralyzing fear with Hezbollah since the early 1990s, effectively limiting the IDF’s ability to act against the organization. The Lebanon War led Israeli leadership to conclude that a comprehensive ground military operation by Israel could not establish a new, more favorable Lebanese order, and the human cost of such an operation would be too high for the Israeli public to accept.

Since 1992, the IDF has refrained from targeting Hezbollah leaders and commanders for fear of retaliation. This caution stemmed from the aftermath of Israel’s assassination of Hezbollah’s Secretary-General, Abbas al-Musawi, on February 16, 1992. In response, about a month later Hezbollah blew up the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, resulting in around thirty dead and over a hundred injured. Moshe Arens, who was then the defense minister, later admitted that had he foreseen Hezbollah’s reaction to the killing of its leader, he would not have authorized the IDF to target al-Musawi.[49]

After Israel abandoned targeting Hezbollah’s leaders, it instead embarked on extensive military operations, namely ‘Operation Accountability’ in the summer of 1993 and ‘Operation Grapes of Wrath’ in the spring of 1995. These operations aimed to exert indirect pressure on the Shia villagers in South Lebanon through artillery and aerial strikes near their villages, intending to drive them to Beirut. The Israeli strategy was based on the assumption, or perhaps hope, that the massive and panicked exodus of the Shia population to Beirut would pressure the Lebanese government, which would then seek Syrian intervention to rein in Hezbollah. However, on April 18, 1996 during the Operation Grapes of Wrath, an Israeli shell mistakenly struck a group of Shia villagers near the village of Qana, killing 109 and wounding 120. This incident drew extensive international criticism against Israel and effectively brought the Israeli operation to a halt. Subsequently, understandings were reached between Hezbollah and Israel, setting rules of engagement for conflict in South Lebanon. These rules forbade attacks on civilian populations but implicitly permitted Hezbollah to continue its operations against IDF forces in South Lebanon, and more importantly, to strengthen and build up its capabilities.

Israel’s attempts to target Lebanese infrastructure, such as power stations, bridges, and transportation networks, particularly in early 1999, failed to alter the established balance of fear between Hezbollah and Israel. Following Israeli attacks on Lebanese infrastructure, Hezbollah retaliated with rocket fire on northern Israeli communities. Since Israel had no interest in escalating the conflict, it was the first to back down, unable to bring about any meaningful change in the dynamics of its war with Hezbollah.[50]


Amidst the impasse encountered by the IDF in their conflict with Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon, and the growing realization that peace with Syria was not imminent, voices in Israel began advocating for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon towards the late 1990s. Proponents argued that such a retreat would enhance Israel’s standing in the Lebanese arena and consequently reduce Israeli casualties. The days of Katyusha rockets threatening life in Northern Israel – a primary catalyst for the war in the early 1980s – had long been forgotten. Instead, the focus shifted to the routine encounters with Hezbollah in the security zone, which exacted a heavy toll of approximately thirty Israeli casualties a year. Unlike the territories of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, no Israeli settlements were established in Lebanon, and thus the IDF’s presence was deemed temporary. After 15 years, this ‘temporary’ status was increasingly viewed as untenable. Notable among the advocates for a unilateral withdrawal were “Four Mothers,” a grassroots protest movement of soldiers’ mothers, and the “Golan Lobby,” which sought to decouple the widespread Israeli perception linking the IDF’s presence in the Golan with the ongoing loss of life in Southern Lebanon.

In March 1999, on the eve of the general elections, Ehud Barak declared that if elected as Prime Minister, he would ensure the IDF’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon within a year. A major trigger for Barak’s announcement was a painful incident that February, in which Lieutenant Colonel Erez Gerstein, the IDF liaison officer to Southern Lebanon, was killed. Barak assumed he could negotiate a peace agreement with Syria that would include an IDF withdrawal from the security zone. However, this declaration significantly eroded the existing Israeli consensus on the necessity of the IDF’s continued presence in Southern Lebanon. Following the failure of peace talks with Syria in early 2000, Barak’s government decided to implement the withdrawal unilaterally, without an overarching peace agreement, and on May 24, 2000, IDF forces withdrew from the security zone. The SLA (South Lebanon Army), a Christian militia closely cooperating with the IDF in defending the zone, was left unsupported and consequently disintegrated; its bases were plundered, its equipment seized, and many of its fighters fled in panic to Israel.

It was difficult not to see the unilateral withdrawal as a humiliating admission of defeat. Some criticized the hasty manner in which the withdrawal was executed, while others pointed to a message of weakness and a lack of resilience. Six months later, in October of 2000, the Al-Aqsa Intifada erupted, which some saw as an indirect consequence of the withdrawal. Finally, there were those who expressed concern that despite the withdrawal, the northern war would continue, with Hezbollah growing stronger due to the tailwind provided by Israel’s retreat. [51]

It was hard to underplay Hezbollah’s achievement. A group of no more than a few hundred fighters stood against the full might of the IDF and held its own. It’s no wonder that Hezbollah’s Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah, was in a rush to present the withdrawal as a historic turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict, claiming that Hezbollah had achieved what no Arab state or army had managed to do until then – removing Israel from territory it held without any conditions or compensation, let alone without the Arab side having to commit to peace with Israel.

Moreover, Nasrallah boasted that Hezbollah now possessed the formula for Arabs to overcome Israel, a strategy based on exploiting Israel’s Achilles’ heel: the war fatigue of Israeli society and its sensitivity to the lives of its soldiers. In his “Spider Web” speech delivered on May 26, 2000, in the town of Bint Jbeil, from which the IDF had just retreated, Nasrallah added that:

“A few hundred Hezbollah fighters had forced the most powerful state in the Middle East to raise the white flag of defeat… The era when the Zionists frightened the Lebanese and Arabs was over. The Zionist entity lived in fear after the defeat inflicted by the Islamic resistance fighters in Lebanon. This fear prevailed not only in occupied northern Palestine but also in the heart of Tel Aviv and deep within occupied Palestine… Israel, with its nuclear weapons and the strongest air force in the region, was weaker than a spider’s web.”[52]

Israel’s withdrawal did not bring the hoped-for calm. The northern residents, once familiar with running to shelters from Katyusha rockets, now faced a new threat. Hezbollah, claiming Israel still occupied Lebanese land (the Shebaa Farms and northern Ghajar) and held Lebanese prisoners, restarted its attacks. In October 2000, during the Intifada, Hezbollah kidnapped and killed three Israeli soldiers in Mount Dov. Since then, they have continued to launch attacks against Israel every few weeks. Despite Israel’s strong declarations at the time of the withdrawal about a tough response to any attacks, it held back from reacting to Hezbollah’s actions.

On July 12, 2006, the period of Israeli restraint ended. That day, a Hezbollah unit launched an attack near Zar’it, a settlement close to the border. In this assault, two Israeli soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, were kidnapped, and four others lost their lives. An additional four soldiers, part of a rescue team sent to aid the initial patrol, were also injured and killed. This incident led Israel to initiate a military operation against Hezbollah.[53]

The Israeli military response began with an aerial strike targeting Hezbollah’s sophisticated missile stockpile. This action was widely believed within Israel to be sufficient for subduing Hezbollah. The immediate aftermath of this initial assault, which took place on the war’s first night, generated a wave of optimism and a sense of imminent victory within the Israeli leadership. Reportedly, Chief of Staff Dan Halutz even assured Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of victory, proclaiming, “We have won” when briefing him on the strike’s outcome. Encouraged by their initial success, Israeli leaders laid out bigger goals: to greatly alter the situation in Lebanon, break down Hezbollah’s weapons, and bring the kidnapped soldiers back home.[54]

However, the celebration was premature. fearing casualties, and relied primarily on extensive aerial attacks. Hezbollah responded by firing missiles into northern Israel, for which no effective response was found, forcing Israel to agree to a ceasefire after only 33 days of fighting. Israel was left without the achievement of any of its declared objectives – instead settling for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, a vague ruling regarding the deployment of the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon, implicitly pushing Hezbollah’s fighters away from the border with Israel, but without disarming the militia.

The war left Israel in a state of profound shock and trauma. This was largely due to feelings of frustration, concern, and for some, a sense of insult related to the war’s lack of a definitive outcome. The final words in Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel’s book, “Spider Web,” capture this sentiment: “Israel went into the Second Lebanon War united, ready to react to Hezbollah’s kidnapping of two reservists and determined to prove wrong Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s claim that Israeli society was as fragile as a spider’s web. But the war ended with Israel feeling confused, defeated, and overwhelmed by failure.”[55]

Feelings, as we know, are hard to argue with, as demonstrated by a Fox news broadcast, during which the network’s Beirut correspondent, Fred Smith, asked analyst David Makovsky in the studio in Washington: “Who do you think won the war?” Makovsky began to answer, but Smith immediately interrupted him. “David, if you don’t mind, raise your voice, because Hezbollah people here in the background are celebrating their victory with fireworks.”[56]

The Second Lebanon War heightened the sense of threat in Israel from Hezbollah. Now, it was not just roadside bombs and suicide bombers operating against IDF convoys on Lebanese roads and the security zone in southern Lebanon, but missile fire that paralyzed all of northern Israel.[57] Nevertheless, Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, admitted in an interview after the battles that he would have refrained from ordering the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers had he known it would lead to such an extensive war between his organization and Israel. These words laid the foundation for the belief of many in Israel that, despite the sense of missed opportunity, the severe blow suffered by Hezbollah, and especially its Shia supporters, during the war created an effective and deterrent balance of terror that could ensure quiet along the border.

Thus, in the eyes of Israelis, Lebanon became the land of Hezbollah, a land of hatred and hostility, separated from Israel by an unbridgeable chasm. It thus receded from the Israeli horizon, while the walls of hostility separating Beirut from Jerusalem grew higher. From then on, it was clear: Lebanon would not only not be the second to sign a peace agreement with Israel, but almost certainly the last to do so, if at all.

The In-Between War

Following the Second Lebanon War, an eerie sense of quiet spread across the Israel-Lebanon border. Hezbollah was growing stronger, particularly by increasing its missile stockpile, a key element to its strategy of terror-fueled deterrence. Before the war, Hezbollah possessed around 12,000 missiles, mainly short-range, with a few that could reach medium and long distances. However, learning from the war, they expanded their arsenal to around 150,000 missiles. This included hundreds, possibly even thousands, of advanced long-range missiles capable of hitting strategic targets deep in Israeli territory with greater accuracy. [58]

Hezbollah’s capabilities were almost solely based on this missile arsenal, which Hassan Nasrallah frequently boasted of and threatened Israel with. In a statement from November 2012, he confidently asserted that “Israel is well aware of the weapons we possess. If Israel was shaken by a handful of Fajr-5 missiles hitting Tel Aviv over eight days, imagine how it would cope with thousands of rockets raining down on Tel Aviv should it attack Lebanon. Israel is fully aware that war with us would extend far beyond a 70 km range, covering all of occupied Palestine, from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat. Our primary objective is, and always will be, Palestine. It forms the core of our beliefs and our responsibilities.”[59]

Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War significantly enhanced its military prowess. This experience laid the groundwork for its leaders’ bold claims that in any future war with Israel, they would not resort to a passive strategy of merely dodging and surviving, or just harassing enemy forces in Lebanese territory along with missile strikes on Israeli cities. Rather, Hezbollah indicated a shift towards a more aggressive stance, with plans to attack and possibly seize control of areas in the Galilee.[60] Israeli security experts took these warnings very seriously. They assessed that Hezbollah could execute surprise attacks using thousands of well-trained fighters, including the notorious Radwan Force, an elite unit seasoned through involvement in the Syrian Civil War. Their aim would be to capture and control Israeli military posts or settlements near the border, potentially extending into deeper parts of the Galilee.[61] Skeptics of Nasrallah’s threats faced a reality check in early 2019, when Israel discovered and eliminated six Hezbollah-dug tunnels under the border, designed for infiltrating Israeli territory.[62]

Faced with this stifling balance of terror and deterrence, which hindered its abilities to operate freely on its northern border and deeper in Lebanese territory, Israel developed a military doctrine designed to counter Hezbollah’s strengthening while preventing a slide into renewed violence. This doctrine, known as the “Campaign Between Wars” (CBW), was defined by the IDF as “a campaign conducted by the State of Israel through the IDF and the intelligence community against the strengthening of enemy states including Iran and Syria, and terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, in order to thwart their offensive activities.” This campaign included covert operations with a low signature, including targeted strikes, air force attacks, cyber warfare, and actions by special units and Mossad operatives. The name of this policy derived from the fact that it was conducted between the wars or overt military operations that Israel had launched against its enemies. In this campaign, Israel maintained deniability.[63]

The Syrian Civil War, which began in March 2011, provided Israel with an unprecedented opportunity to conduct extensive military operations in Syria. The primary targets of these operations were weapons shipments being transferred from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as Iranian targets and those associated with Shia militias supported by Tehran in Syria. The objective was to limit Iran’s efforts to establish a strong presence in Syria.

The success of these operations – the aforementioned Campaign Between Wars (CBW) – initially gave Israel a sense of operational and intelligence superiority, suggesting that the CBW was effectively preserving and enhancing Israel’s security and deterring its adversaries. However, this perspective was later deemed to be overly optimistic. Despite the focus on these immediate and visible threats, the CBW did not prevent the strengthening of Hezbollah or Hamas. Over the years, both organizations grew in military capability, amassing large arsenals of missiles and developing highly trained combat forces, notably Hamas’s Nukhba and Hezbollah’s Radwan Force.

The CBW was an example of creative and initiative thinking, a success in seizing opportunities and demonstrating its operational capabilities. However, it seems that the CBW became the main focus, and the logic behind it guided Israel’s strategic conduct against its enemies. The inevitable result of this was the shock and surprise that gripped Israel on October 7 with Hamas’s attack.

Fire in the North

Over the last decade, Israel has been monitoring the situation along its Lebanese border. Hezbollah’s extensive missile arsenal, coupled with an elite force trained to capture the Galilee, led Israeli policymakers to fear the onset of “the first northern war”, which would span from Rosh Hanikra on the Mediterranean coast to Hamat Gader at the tri-border area of Israel, Syria, and Jordan.

This fear was immensely greater than the concern over Hamas, a terrorist organization with “only” about 15,000 missiles, most of which had a range insufficient to reach Israel’s central and more populated regions. Hamas, perceived as weaker and “deterred,” would be sufficiently repelled by the sophisticated barrier that the IDF built on the border with the Gaza Strip.

All these assessments collapsed on Saturday, October 7, 2023. The massacre shattered Israel’s conception that Hamas was deterred and could be neutralized by Israel’s intelligence and operational capabilities. Israel’s underlying belief before the war began was that if it funneled enough capital into the Strip, it could be stabilized enough to thwart a major offensive. Truthfully, there were ample opportunities for Israel to realize that this concept was flawed. Since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, there have been continuous rounds of conflict, after each of which Israel tended to believe it had weakened and deterred Hamas, only for another cycle to repeat after a few years.

Unlike Hamas, Hezbollah remained a Lebanese-Shia organization focused on Lebanon and its Shia community. Since the end of the Second Lebanon War, it has kept quiet along the border with Israel, seemingly a testament to the deterrence achieved in the war of 2006. However, whenever Hezbollah saw an opportunity to strike Israel without sparking a full-scale war, it took it, fulfilling its self-assigned role as a “resistance organization.”

After the attack by Hamas on October 7, Hezbollah broke the deceptive ‘calm’ along the northern border by targeting military bases. However, Hezbollah did not utilize its long-range missiles or deploy its elite Radwan Force into Israeli territory. Despite their restraint in these aspects, the Israeli government, out of caution, evacuated tens of thousands of residents from settlements near the border.

It’s likely that if Nasrallah had wanted a full-scale war, he would have joined it on the first day, when Israel was still paralyzed and reeling from Hamas’s surprise attack. Yet as we know, that didn’t happen. As Nasrallah himself explained, Hamas didn’t bother to inform its allies in Tehran and Beirut about its decision to attack Israel; the war was presented as a Palestinian war, Gaza’s war, a war Hezbollah just assisted with and will not fight as if it were its own.[64]

Hezbollah’s decision to maintain a low-profile in the conflict was influenced in large part by the fact that, following the Hamas attack, the IDF mobilized its forces along the border, thereby depriving Hezbollah of the element of surprise crucial to any of its offensive plans. The initial support from the United States and President Joe Biden’s stern warnings to Iran and Hezbollah not to join Hamas’s campaign also played a role.

Nasrallah is a formidable enemy, and he claims, with some justification, that over three decades of leading Hezbollah, he has gained a deep understanding of the Israeli psyche. It seems he recognized that Israel, post-October 7th, was a different Israel, one determined to restore a sense of security to its citizens, thoroughly remove any threats, and prepared to pay a heavy price if necessary.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s vital to remember Hezbollah’s role on the Iranian chessboard: to deter Israel from striking Iran, and to be ready for immediate retribution if such an attack should occur. It would be illogical for Tehran to “waste” its investment in Hezbollah in Lebanon for the sake of Hamas in Gaza.

Since October 7, Israel has chosen to merely contain Hezbollah’s aggression. In the IDF-Hezbollah conflict, the IDF had the upper hand, at least tactically, as evidenced by the fact that over 200 Hezbollah operatives were killed in combat. Yet Israeli leaders preferred a low-profile conflict, only issuing vague promises to change the reality along the Lebanese border. Both sides – Israel and Hezbollah – found it convenient to keep the conflict simmering. What remains to be seen is whether a full-scale war is inevitable, or whether the sides can avoid such a war, possibly through American initiative.

The only effective strategy Israel has to counter the threat posed by Hezbollah is to neutralize its military capabilities, which have transformed it from a terrorist organization into an existential threat – much like its ongoing efforts against Hamas in Gaza. This is not an impossible task but a feasible military objective.

A comprehensive confrontation aimed at dismantling Hezbollah’s military capabilities would demand far greater resources than those required for the conflict in Gaza. It remains to be seen whether Israel can muster such resources, demonstrate courage and determination, and display the resilience, both in leadership and among its military and civilian populations, to endure potentially painful and unprecedented losses.



After a century of seeking friendship and four decades of bloody conflict, Israel must recognize that there probably is no hope or future for Lebanon, nor for the dream of friendship with it. Currently, Lebanon is Hezbollah, and Hezbollah is Lebanon. The hope for the ‘Lebanonization’ of Hezbollah that accompanied liberal Israel and many Lebanese for years has proven futile. Lebanon can’t handle Hezbollah, whereas Hezbollah can handle Lebanon.

Even if Israel dismantles Hezbollah or the organization collapses from within, and even if the Ayatollah regime in Tehran falls, thereby halting the flow of missiles and money to Hezbollah, Lebanon will remain an elusive neighbor, deserving neither respect nor trust.

Lebanon in the 20th century was an experiment that failed. The French sought to establish it as a Maronite-dominated state, the PLO wanted it as an alternative homeland to “Palestine” and as a base against Israel, and today Hezbollah seeks to make it a forward base of Iran. But none succeeded in creating a functioning state in the Lebanese space, leaving it as a conflict zone of spreading chaos, violence, and terror.

During its civil war, Lebanon splintered, with each sectarian group seizing control of distinct territories. Now, Lebanon is on the brink of a similar disintegration of its socio-political fabric. Should Israeli forces extend their stay in a region vacated by its populace during a comprehensive war – paralleling the situation in the Golan Heights – this occupation could transition into a permanent state. This turn of events would materialize a deep-rooted Zionist ambition, more than a century old, aimed at unifying the territorial expanse of the Land of Israel.


[1] אפשר למצוא את הקליפ ברשת: ‘שתי אצבעות מצידון – ג’ורג’י מסביר למה נלחמים בלבנון’.

[2] ראו ראובן ארליך, בסבך הלבנון, 1918-1958 (תל אביב: הוצאת מערכות, 2000).

[3] ראו זאב שיף, אהוד יערי, מלחמת שולל (ירושלים: הוצאת שוקן, 1984).

[4] ראו גדעון ביגר, ארץ רבת גבולות (באר שבע: הוצאת הספרים של אוניברסיטת בן גוריון בנגב, 2001), ע”ע 103-159.

[5] ראובן ארליך, בסבך הלבנון, 1918-1958, ע”ע 272-292.

[6] אל-דיאר (addiyar.com), המשפחות הלבנוניות, סיור אל העבר – משפחת אל-אסעד (בערבית), 11  בספטמבר 2014.

[7] ראו מאיר זמיר, כינונה של לבנון המודרנית (תל אביב: הוצאת מערכות, 1993).

[8] Kamal Salibi, A House of Many Mansions, the History of Lebanon Reconsidered (London: I. B. Tauris, 1988); The Modern History of Lebanon (Delmar, New York: Caravan Books, 1965).

[9] אודות תולדותיהם של המרונים ראו Kamal Salibi, A House of Many Mansions, pp. 63-99; וכן מישל ריקה, “המארונים בהיסטוריה,” בתוך אהרון אמיר (עורך) לבנון, ארץ, עם מלחמה (תל אביב: הדר, 1975) ע”ע 17-37.

[10] ראו אייל זיסר, לבנון, דם בארזים (תל אביב: הוצאת הקיבוץ המאוחד, 2009), ע”ע 33, 110-112.

[11] על העדה השיעית בלבנון ראו  Rodger Shanahan, The Shi`a of Lebanon, Clans, Parties and Clerics (London: I. B. Tauris, 2005); ראו גם פואד עג’מי, האימאם הנעלם, מוסא צדר והשיעה של לבנון (תל אביב: עם עובד, 1988).

[12] עוד אודות האמנה הלאומית ראו Eyal Zisser, Lebanon, The Challenge of Independence (London: I. B. Tauris, 2000), pp. 57-67

[13] עוד אודות המערכת החברתית-כלכלית בלבנון ראו Samir Khalaf, Lebanon’s Predicament (New York: Columbia

[14][14] ראו למשל מאמרו של יעקב שביט, ׳עברים ופיניקים: מקרה של תמונת עבר היסטורי קדום ושימושה באידאולוגיה הרדיקלית של הימין הציוני והאנטי־ציוני׳, קתדרה, 29 (ספטמבר 1983) ,(עמי 171-193.

[15]  ארליך, בסבך הלבנון, עמ’ 44.

[16] שם, עמ’ 46.

[17] אייל זיסר, “ניפוצן של אשליות: העדה המרונית בישראל ומדינת ישראל – מגעים וקשרים ראשונים”, עיונים בתקומת ישראל, כרך 6 (1996), עמ’ 38–47.

[18] המרכז למחקרים לבנונים, אוקספורד, אוסף המסמכים הדיפלומטים האמריקאים, Bruins to Dept. of State, 14 May 1951, CLS, US Documents, box V – box 4076, 782A.00/5 – 1451

[19] גנזך המדינה, משרד החוץ, .ט׳ ארזי, פריס, למשרד החוץ, 19 בפברואר 1949, 12/1454. ראו גם William Haddad, “‘The Christian Arab Press and the Palestine Question: A Case Study of Michel Chiha of Beirut Le Jour”, Muslim World, Vol. 56, no. 2 (April 1975), pp. 119-131.

[20] משה שרת, יומן אישי, כרך ח’, (תל־אביב: מעריב, 1978) ,עמי 2397-2400

[21] גיא מעין, “לאבד את הצפון: מדינות ערב והגליל במלחמת 1948,” ב- אלון קדיש (עורך) מלחמת העצמאות תש”ח-תש”ט, דיון מחודש (תל אביב: משרד הביטחון, ההוצאה לאור, 2004), ע”ע 269-306.

[22] ראובן ארליך, בסבך הלבנון, ע”ע 435-498.

[23] ראו Yehia El Amine, Tele Liban looks to continue a long, prestigious history, al-Nahar, 23 May 2018, https://web.archive.org/web/20180523172456/https://en.annahar.com/article/457902-tele-liban-looks-to-continue-a-long-prestigious-history

[24] זיסר, לבנון, דם בארזים, עמ’ 63–64.

[25] עוד על פרוץ המלחמה בלבנון ראו Farid el Khazen, The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon, 1967-1976, London: I. B Tauris, 2000; Kamal Salibi, Cross Roads to Civil War, Lebanon 1958-1976, Delmar, New York: Caravan, 1976.

[26] ראו זאב שיף ואהוד יערי, מלחמת שולל, ירושלים: שוקן, 1984, עמ’ 40–53. ראו גם יצחק רבין, פנקס שירות, תל-אביב: ספריית מעריב, 1979, עמ’ 500–504.

[27] עוד על אודות בשיר ג’ומאייל ראו מואססת בשיר אל-ג’מיל, בשיר אל-ג’מיל, צ’מיר ותאריח (בשיר ג’ומאייל, קורות חיים ומצפון), ביירות: 1984. ראו גם Eyal Zisser, “The 1982 Peace for Galilee War: Looking Back in Anger- Between an Option of a War and a War of no Option,” in Mordechai Bar-On (ed.) A Never Ending Conflict, a Guide to Israeli Military History, New York: Praeger Publishers, 2004, pp. 193-211. ראו גם  http://www.bachirgemayel.org

[28] שיף ויערי, מלחמת שולל, עמ’ 54–63.

[29] ראו מרדכי ציפורי, בקו ישר, תל-אביב: ידיעות אחרונות, 1997, עמ’ 265, 268; שיף ויערי, מלחמת שולל, עמ’ 66.

[30] ראו ציפורי, בקו ישר, עמ’ 314, שיף ויערי, מלחמת שולל, עמ’ 38; ראיון של המחבר עם יהושע שגיא, ראש אמ”ן בין השנים 1979–1983, בת-ים, 17 באפריל 1994.

[31] ראו גם Zisser, “The 1982 Peace for Galilee War”

[32]  “הודעת הממשלה על מבצע שלום הגליל”, דבר, 7 ביוני 1982, עמ’ 3. ראו גם ראיון של המחבר עם דן מרידור, מזכיר הממשלה ביוני 1982, ירושלים, 13 במאי 1994.

[33] ראו ציפורי, בקו ישר, עמ’ 275; ראו גם דן נאור, “האם כל הדרכים הובילו אל בירוּת?, המדיניות ה’לבנונית’ של מנחם בגין, 1977–1982”, עיונים בתקומת  ישראל, כרך 33 (2020), עמ’ 9–39.

[34] מרדכי ציפורי, בקו ישר, עמ’ 277–300; שיף ויערי, מלחמת שולל, עמ’ 244–245.

[35] א’ כנרתי, “בגין מוכן להיפגש עם סרקיס בביירות  או בירושלים”, דבר, 16 ביוני 1982, עמ’ 3.

[36] שיף ויערי, מלחמת שולל, עמ’ 252–266.

[37] שם, עמ’ 284–291.

[38] שם, עמ’ 313–379. ראו גם דוד קמחי, האופציה האחרונה: המאבק לשלום במזרח התיכון, ירושלים: עידנים, 1992. לדו”ח ועדת החקירה ראו גנזך המדינה, דוח ועדת החקירה לאירועי סברה ושתילה.

[39] שפי גבאי, יוסף חריף ועודד גרנות, “ג’מאייל תובע מאסד גיבוש תחליף להסכם ישראל-לבנון בחסות האו”ם”, מעריב, 1 במרץ 1984, עמ’ 1.

[40] לדיון מקיף במעורבות הישראלית בלבנון ראו אליעזר צפריר, פלונטר: שוטר תנועה בסבך הלבנוני, תל-אביב: ידיעות אחרונות, 2006; ישראל גפן, פגישות בלבנון, תל-אביב: משרד הביטחון, 1984.

[41] ראו Walid Phares, Lebanese Christian Nationalism: The Rise and Fall of an Ethnic Resistance, Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995; Nader Moumneh, The Lebanese Forces: Emergence and Transformation of the Christian Resistance, Lanham, Maryland: Hamilton Books, 2019, pp. 3-136.

[42] ראו William Harris, Faces of Lebanon, Sects, Wars, and Global Extensions, Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers: 1997, pp. 174-176.

[43] זיסר, לבנון, דם בארזים, עמ’ 338–353.


[45] ראו עג’מי, האמאם הנעלם.

[46] שמעון שפירא, חזבאללה: בין איראן ולבנון, תל-אביב: הקיבוץ המאוחד, 2000.

[47] Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh, In the Path of Hizballah, Syracuse University Press, 2004, pp.89, 91.  ראו גם נעים קאסם, חזבאללה, אלמינהאג’, אלתג’רובה, אלמוסתקבל (חיזבאללה, הדרך, הניסיון והעתיד), ביירות: דאר אל-האדי, 2002, עמ’ 17–25.

[48] נץ אל-ריסאלה אלמפתוחה אלתי וג’ההא חזבאללה אלי אלמוסתדעפין פי לובנאן ואלעאלם (נוסח האיגרת הגלויה שהפנה החיזבאללה לנדכאים בלבנון ובעולם), ביירות: פברואר 1985.

[49] ראיון של המחבר עם משה ארנס, תל-אביב, 24 במאי 2003.

[50] זיסר, לבנון, דם בארזים, עמ’ 217–220.

[51] עמוס הראל ואבי יששכרוף, קורי עכביש: סיפורה של מלחמת לבנון השנייה, תל-אביב: משכל, 2008, עמ’ 15–49.

[52] ערוץ אל-מנאר, 26 במאי 2000.

[53] הראל ויששכרוף, קורי עכביש, עמ’ 141–148.

[54] שם, עמ’ 179–224.

[55] שם, עמ’ 60–65. ראו גם עמיר רפפורט, אש על כוחותינו: כך הכשלנו את עצמנו במלחמת לבנון השנייה, תל-אביב: ספריית מעריב, 2007

[56] הראל ויששכרוף, קורי עכביש, עמ’ 456.

[57] ערוץ אל-ג’זירה, 26 בספטמבר 2006.

[58] יהושע קליסקי, “טילים מדויקים, כטב”מים ועשרות אלפי לוחמים: סדר הכוחות של חיזבאללה”, המכון למחקרי ביטחון לאומי,  19 באוקטובר, 2023 (באתר המכון).

[59] חיים איסרוביץ, “נסראללה: הקרב נגדנו ישתרע מקריית שמונה ועד אילת”, אתר nrg, 25 בדצמבר 2012.

[60] ערוץ אל-מנאר, 16 בפברואר 2011.

[61] יוחאי עופר, “אשכנזי: ‘חיזבאללה לא יכול לכבוש את הגליל'”, מעריב, 1 באפריל 2015.

[62] “4 שנים ל”מגן צפוני”: בחזרה למבצע שהרעיד את מנהרות חיזבאללה”, אתר צה”ל, 4 בדצמבר 2022.

[63] ראו שי שבתאי, “‏תפיסת המערכה שבין המלחמות”, מערכות 445 (אוקטובר 2011), עמ’ 24–27; עמיר רפפורט, “תקופת בין המלחמות”, אתר nrg‏, 1 בפברואר 2013.

[64] ג’קי ח’ורי, “נסראללה הבהיר שלא יקריב את לבנון למען עזה, והותיר את חמאס לבד”, הארץ, 4 בנובמבר 2023.


photo Copyright: Robstar from Bigstock

Eyal Zisser

Eyal Zisser is a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Tel Aviv University, where he also serves as the Vice Rector. His area of expertise encompasses the modern history of Lebanon and Syria.

Related Articles