The Long and Bitter History Between Israel and Lebanon

BY DANIEL SAENZ

Just recently, Lebanon has banned the movie Justice League, as Gal Gadot, the woman who plays Wonder Woman, is an Israeli who fought for the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) during the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006. This would not be the end of Lebanon’s issues with Gadot. The Lebanese daily newspaper Al Liwa printed an editorial last month featuring Gal Gadot’s photo and accusing the Israeli actress of being an undercover spy for Mossad who is attempting to convince prominent Lebanese actors to spy for Israel. Unfortunately, such occurrences are not new and have been quite common for anything and anybody remotely associated with Israel.

This is all undoubtedly connected to the larger military history between the two countries. In order to better understand the animosity between the two countries, it is important to rewind back to the end of World War One. Before the end of World War One, “Israel” and “Lebanon” were both just apart of the Ottoman Empire. With the British and French victory over the Ottoman Empire, Britain and France would occupy many of these territories in the Middle East. The League of Nations gave Syria to the French and Palestine to the British in the famous (or infamous) 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement.

The Christian enclave of the French mandate of Syria would later become the French-controlled Lebanese Republic in 1926. Lebanon would later gain its independence in 1943 because France was currently being occupied by Germany during World War Two, thus making it unable to control this territory. The rising anti-semitism in Europe and the Holocaust would cause a huge influx of Jewish immigrants to the majority Arab province of Palestine. During the Arab revolts of 1936-1939, the British would rely heavily on Jewish police forces to keep the revolts down.

Because Jewish immigration was only increasing, and because tensions were becoming so toxic and violent between the Jews and Arabs, Britain completely withdrew from the province and punted the matter to the United Nations. The UN came up with the 1947 Partition Plan, which aimed to create two separate states for Jews and Arabs. Palestine would be majority Arab and Israel majority Jewish. This plan, however, would not sit well with the Arab world. Lebanon, along with Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, saw this plan as an injustice against Arabs. Nonetheless, Israel would officially declare its independence in 1948.

In response, Lebanon, along with the rest of these newly independent Arab nations would attempt to invade Israel on behalf of Palestine. This invasion would not do well as Israel would beat back the invaders. After this, a cease-fire was signed. The late 60s and early 70s then saw the rise of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), a terrorist group that dedicated itself to attacking Israel and putting an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The PLO made its debut in the 1972 Munich Olympics where they bombed and killed several members of the Israeli teams there. This trend would continue throughout the 70s while Lebanon would allow the PLO to operate from Lebanon.

Being wary of all attacks on its people and soil being operated from Lebanon, Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, thus igniting the 1982 Lebanon War. After a great deal of casualties, both sides would agree to a cease-fire and the PLO was forced to leave Lebanon. Riding the resentment of the destruction that the war had on Lebanese society, a new terrorist group, Hezbollah, formed. In 1985, Hezbollah would officially declare its manifesto, which states that its number one priority would be fighting the Israeli-occupation.

Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, Hezbollah would win a great deal of influence in Lebanese politics, winning several seats in Congress. And, also during this time, Hezbollah forces would clash with Israeli forces in south Lebanon. These small skirmishes eventually gave way to the full-scale Lebanon War in 2006. This conflict would prove the most deadly as the battle would destroy a great of infrastructure within Lebanon and displace over a million people. A ceasefire was eventually reached in the later fall of that same year. The conditions were quite simple. Israel was to completely withdraw from Lebanon and Hezbollah was to completely disarm itself.

While the situation has been relatively under control recently, neither Israel nor Lebanon have held up their side of the deal. Israel still flies fighter jets above Lebanon and Hezbollah has still not disarmed. To make matters worse, Israel suspects that Iran is building “advanced missile plants” in Lebanon to attack Israel. When asked what Israel would do about such a threat, Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz rather bluntly stated that Israel would return Lebanon to the Stone Age. Lebanon is also stationing troops to conduct drills at the border. Given these ongoing trends, the future looks rather bleak for relations between Israel and Lebanon. The world might be looking at its next big war, which could very well pull many of the main global powers into the mix.

As previously mentioned, the wars between Israel and Lebanon have been absolutely catastrophic in the past. Now that we are living in the age of chemical warfare and nuclear weapons, the United States cannot possibly allow one of its greatest allies in the region to entangle itself in such a deadly war. With the help of the United Nations, the United States would be wise to make sure that the conditions of the ceasefire are properly met in order to pave way for a possible peace process between the two nations.

 

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