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July 12, 2010 marked the fourth anniversary of Israel’s Second Lebanon War. In the intervening years, Hezbollah has made significant political and military gains in Lebanon. The rise in the paramilitary terrorist organization is likely due to three key factors: to Israel’s failure in 2006 to completely destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure, the perceived weakness of the Obama administration as a result of its appeasement of Iran and Syria, and the failure of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to implement UN resolution 1701.
The war came about as a result of continuous provocations against Israel by Hezbollah, which culminated on July 12, 2006 when a squad of Lebanese-Shiite Hezbollah terrorists, funded and directed by Iran, crossed the Israeli border and ambushed two Israeli Defense Force patrol jeeps. Amidst the fray, roadside explosives were detonated and eight Israeli soldiers were killed. During that same raid, Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli reservists: Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whom they either murdered or denied medical care. Simultaneously, Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets at northern Israel communities.
Iran continues to use the Lebanese arena as a military lever against Israel, one which threatens to explode in a third war — albeit, a more all-engulfing regional conflict.
To divert attention from the Iranian Islamic Republic’s rejection of Western demands that Iran negotiate an alternative to its uranium enrichment, Iran ordered Hezbollah terrorists to attack Israeli soldiers. CNN reported on June 5, 2006 that, “In a move aimed at ending the diplomatic standoff (over Iran’s nuclear program) the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, along with Germany, agreed to a ‘set of far reaching proposals’ that will form the foundation for resuming talks with Iran.” The war that began in earnest six days later in Lebanon between Hezbollah – an Iranian proxy also supported by Syria – and Israel did indeed shift attention away from Iran’s disregard of the proposals made by the UN Security Council permanent members.
In the aftermath of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 was passed. It prohibited Hezbollah from rearming, and called for the Lebanese army to deploy 15,000 troops in South Lebanon. It charged the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with the responsibility to implement the resolution.
In the ensuing years, Iran has shipped thousands of advanced missiles to Hezbollah – with the transfers being carried out by Syria. While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is on the record as having said that Hezbollah’s existing stockpile of rockets was in violation of Security Council resolutions, Agence France Presse reported on July 2, 2010 that the UN warned of renewed violence between Hezbollah and Israel following accusations that the Shiite militant party had received sophisticated missiles. “Amidst allegations of continued arms transfers to Hezbollah… a perceptible increase in tension between the parties was noticeable said the UN Secretary General in a report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP in Beirut.” No course of action by the UN, however, was announced.
In April 2010, Syria delivered truckloads of long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701. These Scud missiles can reach deep into Israel – as far south as Beersheba. While this delivery may not have changed the strategic balance between Israel and Hezbollah, according to some Israeli military experts, it has certainly raised the tension level. No course of action was announced by Ban Ki-Moon at this time either.
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