Hizbullah Lost the War in Lebanon

Hizbullah lost its kingdom in southern Lebanon.

Gabriel Al-Amin,

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Hizbullah had been on Israel's fence since the latter's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Israel always requested from the international community and from the Lebanese government to deploy its Lebanese Army there instead of Hizbullah's terror troops. Hizbullah, quite naturally, refused. Hizbullah vowed to never allow any other force to occupy southern Lebanon, not the Lebanese army and not international monitors.
The frail Lebanese government has a degree of sovereignty.

Then finally, when two IDF soldiers were kidnapped on July 12, 2006, Israel found the perfect excuse to go into Lebanon and push Hizbullah well away from the Lebanese-Israel border. Israel pursued a limited invasion and killed over 500-600 Hizbullah members during the one-month war. Additionally, Israel took over every single village in southern Lebanon. Yet, when the hostilities ended, Hizbullah claimed victory. But did it really win?

Israel agreed to a cessation of hostilities because of international pressure from the European Union and the United States. During the conflict, Israel endured more international pressure than it ever had in the past 10 years, but Israel was also offered conditions and international agreements, such as the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese soldiers and 15,000 United Nations peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, and an arms embargo on Hizbullah. This proposal, which even Hizbullah accepted, was something for which Israel was yearning for many decades. Even the far-right in Israel said it was an excellent proposal. This cessation of hostilities, known as the August Ceasefire, was initiated by the United Nations.

Hizbullah jumped right on the bandwagon to accept the ceasefire, because they saw it as the only way out of the mess they got themselves into. Israel was more stubborn, however, since they were on a winning streak.

Ever since the ceasefire, Hizbullah has not been seen or heard from in Southern Lebanon. At long last, the frail Lebanese government has a degree of sovereignty over all of its state, and is finally monitoring and guarding its own borders.

Not too long ago, nearly all television and print media images coming out of southern Lebanon were those of armed Hizbullah fighters with their guns, outposts and banners. Not anymore. Hizbullah is now hiding under rocks in Southern Lebanon, its military might having received a substantial blow. In addition, Hizbullah is no longer enjoying the freedom and luxury of easily transferring Syrian-Iranian weaponry across the Lebanese-Syrian border or via the Beirut seaport. Much of this is due to the combined efforts of a stronger Lebanese army and UN forces keeping a lid on such transferals.

Even though the international troops and the Lebanese army keep Hizbullah in check, isn't there still a Hizbullah presence in Southern Lebanon? The same could be said for Al-Qaeda in the United States, which is also hiding under rocks.

Hizbullah may portray themselves as fearsome "militants," but they are, in fact, cowards cowering behind Lebanese civilians. Yet, through mostly pin-point targeting, the IDF dealt a heavy blow to Hizbullah, with nearly all of the organization's bases, headquarters and tactical infrastructure destroyed.

Some might say, "But didn’t Hizbullah manage to shoot over one hundred rockets into Israel every single day? Why didn't the Israeli army ever manage to stop the Katyusha fire?" Well the answer to that would be: "What's so impressive about groups of one or two pin-heads pointing and setting off an unguided Katyusha southward into Israel?" Hizbullah only needed 1% of their military might in order to shoot Katyushas from scattered fields and caves.

But Israel did badly miscalculate Hizbullah. How so? In 2004, it was estimated that if Israel was to engage in war with Hizbullah, their Katyusha arsenal would result in 100 deaths per day on the Israeli side, but instead only two people per day were killed by those rockets.
 
Prior to the war, it was also estimated that if Israel launches a ground invasion, it would result in the deaths of over 70 Israeli soldiers per day, which would have left over 2,000 dead on the IDF side at the end of the 34-day conflict. But only 120 soldiers were
Hizbullah may portray themselves as fearsome "militants," but they are, in fact, cowards.
killed in total, which makes it 3-4 soldiers per day. Even though Israel deployed so many soldiers in the open, Hizbullah didn't manage to deliver the harsh blow that was estimated before the war. But then, Hizbullah didn't fight as courageously as the Egyptians during the Suez Canal invasion, nor as the Syrians during the war in the Golan Heights.

During the fighting, many people (both inside and outside Lebanon) finally saw Hizbullah as they really are - a terrorist group. Its strategy had little or no military value.

As much as the IDF might have wanted to, the wiping out of Hizbullah was not Israel's goal. Nor could it ever be its goal. It is against the laws of physics to destroy a guerrilla or terrorist group (America is learning it the hard way with Al-Qaeda), since their members are always blending in and out of the civilian populations from which they so cowardly operate. Additionally, rescuing the kidnapped IDF soldiers without a strong intelligence as to exactly where they were hidden, would have been a nearly impossible mission - assuming they had not already been secreted out of Lebanon into Syria or Iran.

When the month-long conflict ended, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah remained in an underground bunker, no longer enjoying frequent visits to central Beirut, giving daily "Hate Israel" speeches, driving down to his home town in southern Lebanon, or enjoying first class flights to Damascus and Tehran. Nasrallah even admitted that had he known that even one percent of this war would have gone as it had, he would have never kidnapped the soldiers and thus started the war.

In February 2007, there was a skirmish between Israeli troops and the Lebanese army on the Israel-Lebanon border. Even though this skirmish resulted in a shootout and was unfortunate, the ray of light from it was that Israel was confronted and attacked by the Lebanese army and not by Hizbullah. This was one of the first signs that the Lebanese army was doing its job. This was mostly due to the fact that Hizbullah lost its kingdom in southern Lebanon, and is now in constant check by UNIFIL, the Lebanese Army and international troops.

Unlike after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, when Hizbullah would look for any excuse to shoot Katyushas into Israel at least once every three months, no longer will the citizens of northern Israel live in fear. All of Hizbullah's southern Beirut outposts were destroyed by Israel. Even after the ceasefire, Israel stayed in Lebanon for two more months in order to destroy all remaining Hizbullah outposts and bunkers, while Hizbullah stood by and did nothing.
 
During the conflict, some of the Israel-Lebanon border fence was destroyed and torn down, but Israel was in no rush to fix it. What's the point?
Hassan Nasrallah remained in an underground bunker.
Hizbullah will not want to mess with the IDF again. Until today, some of that fence has not yet been fixed, since the only threat of infiltration now is from drug dealers smuggling hashish.

After the war, Hizbullah saw that it could no longer push around and bully Israel, and it is therefore now trying to bully the "weak" Lebanese government by mass demonstrations, camping out in front of the Lebanese parliament and political assassinations.

Some Arab governments claimed Hizbullah achieved a Divine victory. But let's not forget that some of those same Arab governments until today claim that Syria and Egypt won the 1967 and 1973 wars.

Further Reading
2. "Again, Israeli gloom is misplaced" (First Post 4/17/2007)


4. "Hizbullah's 'Victory'?" (Washington Post 9/1/2006)

5. "The Lebanese Winograd Commission" (Thomas Friedman, New York Times 5/10/2007)


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