Selwa Saleeby was doing homework in the living room of her Beirut apartment on July 14, 2006. She descended from a long line of Lebanese Christians who always supported democracy and supported Israel’s right to exist. However, as she began performing high school algebra, her apartment began to shake. Selwa heard planes flying above her building. Then, a bomb struck outside of her first floor window, spreading glass and smoke in her apartment.
Selwa was terrified to live in Beirut after this attack. Once her family came home from work, they decided to leave the area until the hostilities stopped. The Saleebys did not understand why the Israelis were victimizing them. They did not do anything to hurt the people of Israel. It all seemed unprovoked in every possible way.
The Saleebys decided to return home when it was announced that a cease-fire was imminent. Once returning home, Selwa decided to walk around her once peaceful yard at the apartment complex. She could not help but notice small containers all around the yard. Selwa’s curiosity got the best of her and she went to pick one up. The moment she touched it, the container exploded. It was a failed cluster munitions that had been fired during the last 72 hours of the war. Selwa lost both of her arms, one of her legs, and had burns on seventy-five percent of her body.
Selwa became a victim of Israel’s retaliation to a fringe group inside of Lebanon. The Saleebys never hurt anyone. They were good citizens and always supported Israel’s right to exist. But now, they are left without answers. Why did the Israeli Defense Force attack them?
This story is not true, but is taken from true events that happened during the Lebanon War of 2006. Many innocent Lebanese citizens lost their lives and were injured as a result of Israel’s aggressive retaliation to the actions of Hezbollah. Many Israelis were also injured as a result of Hezbollah’s response. This story brings up the questions of whether Israel’s response was proportional and whether Israel’s use of Cluster Munitions in populated areas is a violation of Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Convention of 1949.
A. History of conflict between Israel and Lebanon
In 1982, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (“PLO”), which was a “state within a state” in Lebanon, attempted to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in London. During the same time, the PLO also engaged in raids across the northern border of Israel. Israel responded by sending tanks into Beirut to crush the PLO residing there. Subsequently, Israel also occupied Lebanon. This engagement resulted in the deaths of over a thousand Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, along with hundreds of Israeli and Syrian soldiers.
As a result of the Israeli invasion, a group of Muslim clerics created a group called, “Hezbollah.” The purpose of this group was to provide resistance to the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and to hopefully drive Israeli troops out of the country. Hezbollah was heavily supported with funding and arms by Iran and Syria. While the initial aim of Hezbollah was to transform Lebanon into an “Iranian-style Islamic state,” it was later abandoned and redirected towards being more inclusive of the diverse citizens living in Lebanon. By 1985, Hezbollah had a manifesto and claimed to have the goal of destroying the state of Israel. The manifesto proclaimed, “Our struggle will end only when the entity is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements.” This goal has not changed in the past twenty years.
Hezbollah’s attacks against Israel have not ceased, especially since 2000. Hezbollah has always claimed the right to attack because Israel continues to occupy the Shebaa Farms and Shuba Hills region of Lebanon. The organization has received widespread support for opening hospitals, schools, clinics, and agricultural centers. Hezbollah is also the only group within Lebanon permitted to carry weapons. They have grabbed the momentum and the historical, unfavorable Israeli sentiments from prior conflicts and made a movement of it. This background on Hezbollah leads to a basic understanding of how the 2006 conflict began. Hezbollah believes they are a voice of the people and are just as powerful, if not more, than the weak Lebanese government. Therefore, they engaged in unilateral negotiation tactics, which led to the 2006 Lebanon War.
B. Background Leading to War
Hezbollah has conducted its own prisoner exchange negotiations in the past. In 2004, Israel released “four hundred Palestinian, Lebanese, and other Arab prisoners in exchange for an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers.” While an uneven trade, Israel avoided conflict and submitted to Hezbollah’s tactics this time. However, Israel would act different if this happened in the future. On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed five others at an Israeli military outpost near the Israel/Lebanon border. While this attack was going on, Hezbollah also fired diversionary rockets, injuring three Israelis. Hezbollah carried out this attack in order to have leverage in a prisoner exchange with Israel.
On June 25, 2006, only a few days before the Hezbollah attack, the Palestinian Hamas group killed two soldiers and captured another at the Gaza strip. Israel felt threatened, as any country would, by the sudden wave of attacks at their borders and decided retaliating was in their best interests. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated, “Lebanon is responsible and Lebanon will bear the consequences of its actions. The Lebanese government…is trying to undermine regional stability.” Olmert was prepared to make a bold statement, even if it would undermine fifteen years of progress Lebanon had made since the civil war years. Perhaps progress in Lebanon was actually artificial to begin with since a group like Hezbollah was permitted to exist and continue gaining strength.
Israel’s disproportionate response to Hezbollah, in violation of the Geneva Convention, resulted in a humanitarian crisis in Lebanon that was intensified by unexploded cluster munitions. An analysis of Israel’s disproportionate response will first be provided. Next, an analysis of Israel’s use of cluster munitions will follow. Finally, the resolution and aftermath will be discussed
II. THE DISPROPORTIONATE RESPONSE
If Israel’s response to Hezbollah’s aggressive and malevolent actions was not proportional, Israel may be responsible for war crimes. “[It is prohibited to launch] an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” Non-proportionality is defined as an attack lacking proportionality “which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” Former United States Secretary of State Daniel Webster once said, “Unreasonable or excessive force, or force used prematurely without considering other options delegitimizes a state’s actions, even when necessity exists.” Essentially, Webster says that disproportionate force may cause the entire action to be illegitimate.
Israel had the right to defend itself against Hezbollah’s malicious acts of aggression. Any reasonable country would provide their citizens with a strong defense to the actions of such an irresponsible, fringe group. However, Israel cannot say their retaliatory actions against Hezbollah were planned well enough to prevent Lebanese civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure. Even though Hezbollah hid within the civilian population, making it more difficult for Israel to carry out attacks without civilian casualties, Israel’s actions are still more in line with the principle of non-proportionality.
A. Israel’s Position on their Disproportionate Response
Prior to the disproportionate response, Israeli military chief of staff, Lt. General Dan Halutz, said that Hezbollah was a “cancer” and that Lebanon will “pay a very high price” if the Lebanese government does not get rid of them. The initial intent of the Israeli Defense Force was to combat Hezbollah for their unprovoked attack. However, Halutz said that he was against going to war with them for this reason. He believed it was in Israel’s long term, strategic interests to destroy Hezbollah’s violent capabilities. Therefore, Major General Udi Adam, head of Israel’s Northern Command, helped draft comprehensive plans “to battle Hezbollah throughought Lebanon, not just in the Islamic militia’s southern stronghold.” This nearly guaranteed Lebanon would suffer severe civilian casualties since the attack would include a wider radius of the country. But it also presented the possibility of forever maiming the capabilities of Hezbollah.
Ambassador Gillerman, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said that culpability belongs to the Lebanese Government due to its “ineptitude and inaction in properly controlling its territory in the south.” Furthermore, the Ambassador blamed Lebanon for not implementing Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for the disarming of armed militias inside Lebanon. However, his argument could be debated because countries like the United States and even Lebanon openly admitted that the Lebanese government does not have the capacity to “extend its authority into Hezbollah-held territory.” Israeli Prime Minister Olmert backed up his Ambassador, saying, “This was an act of war [by Lebanon] without any provocation on the sovereign territory…of the state of Israel.”
While many believe Lebanon did not have the ability to extend their authority into Hezbollah’s territory, the government of Lebanon also did not make a good-faith attempt at trying. In fact, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, “[The government of Lebanon] provided Hezbollah with official legitimacy and allowed its armed operations to proceed unhindered. Hezbollah would never have obtained the missiles and military equipment at its disposal had the Lebanese government not allowed this weaponry to reach Lebanon.” They also said that Lebanon’s lack of desire to police the border with Israel is partly to blame for Hezbollah’s actions. Therefore, Lebanon was not permitted to escape the consequences for the actions of a fringe group because they supported Hezbollah’s growing strength, even if it was by mere reckless inaction.
Israel blamed the Lebanese government for the rocket strikes, deaths and kidnapping of soldiers, yet Lebanon does not have the power to deal with the problem. However, Lebanon could have attempted to police their borders better. They could have even asked for further international assistance because of the growing Hezbollah force on the border. Unfortunately, Lebanon did not ask for anything. The government sat idle and watched a war unfold they could have helped prevent. While it does appear Israel’s response was disproportionate, it is arguable as to whether the events leading to his response could have been prevented by a proactive Lebanon government. While Israeli officials have placed blame on the weak government of Lebanon, those in Beirut have to at least take some responsibility for Israel’s disproportionate actions because of Lebanese inaction.
B. What was so disproportionate about Israel’s response compared to the response of Hezbollah?
Before Israel retaliated, they “dropped leaflets warning residents to stay away from the Hezbollah offices in Southern Beirut, where Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is thought to live.” However, the purpose of these leaflets is not clear. It is not clear because there were civilian casualties sustained on exit roads, like the bombing of the main highway between Beirut and Syria. Israel’s air force carried out more than seven thousand attacks and the navy fired approximately twenty five hundred shells. According to Amnesty International, one thousand, eight hundred and eighty three people died. Most of the deaths were civilians and a third of the deaths were children. Four thousand, fifty-four people were wounded. Finally, nine hundred and seventy thousand people were displaced out of a population of a little under four million people.
“Two strikes were conducted on the Beirut airport, where helicopter gunships left craters in runways and turned fuel tanks into fireballs.” Israeli warships blockaded the ports in Beirut, preventing cruise ships from porting, thereby cutting off the delivery of fuel used to operate power plants. Houses were singled out for “precision-guided missile attacks and were destroyed.” In fact, approximately fifteen thousand housing unites were damaged or destroyed.
“Main roads, bridges, petrol stations were blown to bits…scores lay buried beneath the rubble of their houses for weeks.” Entire neighborhoods were turned to rubble and villages that once had energetic Lebanese citizens turned into ghost towns. Since a lack of electricity assisted in cutting off the food supply, homes were greatly damaged, and supermarkets and gas stations were destroyed leaving residents with no other option but evacuation.
In all, there was “widespread destruction of apartments, houses, electricity and water services, roads, bridges, factories and ports.” Israel said they wanted to deprive Hezbollah of its ability to strike and be a fighting force in the future before halting the attacks. Israel’s goal to destroy the infrastructure of Lebanon was confirmed by Israeli military officials. The military strategy went from being focused on debilitating Hezbollah to the massive destruction of “public works, power systems, civilian homes, and industry” to punish Lebanon for their inaction.
While Israel is culpable, Hezbollah deserves a great deal of blame for Israel’s stern response as well. Hezbollah fighters “wore civilian clothes to render themselves indistinguishable from Lebanese civilians and deliberately hid weapons and ammunition in the heart of populated civilian areas in a cynical attempt to exploit the protections associated with civilian status under international law and in reckless disregard for the safety of those civilians and civilian objects.” Furthermore, Hezbollah did not even attempt to distinguish between military and civilian targets. Hezbollah missiles lead to the death of forty-three Israeli civilians, including seven children.
Approximately eighteen hundred and fourteen Israeli civilians were treated for injuries or shock. Between three hundred and fifty thousand and five hundred thousand Israeli civilians were displaced from their homes because of Hezbollah rockets. “Hezbollah not only violated humanitarian principles by deliberately targeting civilian areas, but also by using Katyusha missiles loaded with lethal anti-personnel ball bearings, intended to maximize civilian casualties.” While Israel’s response was devastating in every possible way, Hezbollah’s response was devastating and possibly even more indiscriminate.
Israel’s intent was to weaken Hezbollah. However, they ended up strengthening Hezbollah because they weakened Lebanon’s government by their disproportionate response. This was a response aimed at punishing a fringe group except it ended up punishing hundreds of thousands of Lebanese people who were not involved or supportive of Hezbollah’s actions. Israel clearly violated the law of proportionality because they knew there would be civilian casualties and serious damage to civilian infrastructure but attacked these places anyway.
Hezbollah is equally as guilty for war crimes because they intentionally attacked Israeli civilians. “It should be stressed that Hezbollah made no attempt to hide its intention to target civilians as a matter of policy. Indeed, the only concern expressed in the course of the conflict [by Hezbollah Chief Nasrallah] was that Arab Israelis should leave targeted areas so that only Jewish civilians would be killed and wounded.” Hezbollah’s mission was not to kill Israeli soldiers; their purpose has always been to exterminate the Jewish people.
One of the biggest reasons Israel’s response appeared so disproportionate is because Hezbollah hid within heavily populated civilian areas, which made it next to impossible for Israel to properly attack Hezbollah without incurring civilian casualties. UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland condemned Hezbollah for causing the death of many Lebanese civilians. She said, "Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending among women and children." Even though Israel disproportionately responded, Hezbollah still deserves a great deal of blame for the casualties in Lebanon because they intentionally and recklessly placed the Lebanese people at risk.
III. THE DISPROPORTIONATE RESPONSE: CLUSTER MUNITIONS
While Hezbollah deserved to be retaliated against, it is very important to discuss whether or not Israel’s use of cluster munitions was justified and in violation of international law. It is important to first analyze the international law that governs the use of cluster munitions before discussing what they are and what happened in Lebanon as a result of their use. In Additional Protocol 1, Article 48 of the Geneva Convention of 1949, the “rule of distinction” is presented.
“In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.”
This protocol is violated if a country attacks another and does not make an effort to prevent targeting civilians. If a country is careless and begins attacking civilian targets in hopes of causing the civilian population to blame their own government or another group in their own country, it would appear the protocol is also violated. It appears this latter scenario would also violate the rule against indiscriminate attacks.
Protocol 1, Article 51 of the Geneva Convention presents the “rule against indiscriminate attacks.” This rule states:
a) Those, which are not directed at a specific military objective;
b) Those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or
c) Those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.”
This protocol is violated if a country uses cluster munitions that are dropped in heavily populated areas without clear military targets. The effects of cluster munitions cannot be limited, as they often fail. Therefore, the use of cluster munitions appears to violate this protocol because of the high failure rate.
The final rule is Additional Protocol 1, Article 57, which is the “rule on feasible precautions.” In summary, the rule states, “In the conduct of military operations, constant care shall be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects.” In other words, “[All feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize] incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and damage to civilian objects.” According to this rule, military planners have to do everything possible to prevent attacking civilians or civilian objects. This rule requires “parties to take all precautions necessary—from implementing attack strategies that spare the most civilian casualties, to warning civilians of impending danger—to diminish the collateral damage caused during armed convict.” In fact, if there is a choice “between several military objectives for obtaining a similar military advantage, the objective to be selected shall be that the attack on which may be expected to cause the least danger to civilian lives and to civilian objects.” If cluster munitions are not delivered during “optimal weather” at an “optimal height” as far away from “civilian centers as possible” with a demining team on standby to clear the unexploded submunitions, the law of feasible precautions is violated.
The final rule on cluster munitions is found in a growing body of law called, “The Convention on Cluster Munitions.” The Convention on Cluster Munitions “bans the use, production, and trade of cluster munitions.” The law also contains provisions for “clearance, victim assistance, risk education, and stockpile destruction.” One hundred and seven countries have signed on to this convention. In fact, a growing number of countries signed shortly after the 2006 Lebanon War. However, the United States and Israel are still noticeably absent.
Since the Israeli Defense Force did not try to protect civilians from cluster munitions but used them with disregard on both civilians and Hezbollah, the law of distinction and indiscriminate attacks is violated. While leaflets were given to Lebanese citizens warning of an impending attack, their livelihood was destroyed and many lost their lives while evacuating and even coming back home after the ceasefire because of unexploded submunitions. Therefore, it appears the law of feasible precautions was violated because the precautions Israel took were not adequate and there were more advantageous objectives than bombing residential buildings, agricultural fields, and destroying Lebanese civilians’ way of life for many years after the war.
A. What are cluster munitions?
According to the Human Rights Watch, cluster munitions are “large, ground-launched or air-dropped weapons that, depending on their type, contain dozens or hundreds of submunitions.” They open while still in the air and blanket a broad area with submunitions that can be “as large as one to five football fields.” After a submunition explodes, it releases more than three hundred pieces of shrapnel. The shrapnel escapes at twenty five hundred meters per second “(compared to an automatic rifle bullet that begins its trajectory at 750 meters per second).” Civilian casualties are virtually guaranteed when used in a broad area with a surrounding civilian population. This is partly because it is common for ten to thirty percent of cluster munitions to fail during conflict. The truth about cluster munitions is that the military advantage in attacking civilian property appears to be minimal.
A recent study revealed the majority of cluster munitions casualties to be children. This is likely because the “yellow coloring of the bomblets and the attached parachute” on each cluster munition look like a toy. This same study determined that over ninety eight percent of cluster munitions casualties were civilians, “while seventy five percent of those casualties were due to unexploded submunitions.” Cluster munitions are a huge problem throughout the world, but Lebanon experienced them in one of the most tragic ways possible.
B. The use of cluster munitions in Lebanon
Overall, Israel’s use of cluster munitions covered an area of approximately fourteen hundred square kilometers “north and south of the Litani River, an area comparable to the size of Rhode Island.” Within these kilometers, deminers determined that submunitions contaminated many kilometers of urban land, agricultural land, and woodlands. The failure rate, according to the Human Rights Watch, has been determined to be twenty five percent on most cluster munitions found. However, another source says the failure rate was closer to seventy percent.
Over ninety percent of Israel’s cluster munitions strikes occurred during the final seventy-two hours of the conflict. Israel hit more than eight hundred and fifty sites with millions of submunitions. This occurred after the United Nations adopted Resolution 1701, calling for an immediate ceasefire. Israel was well aware that a ceasefire was imminent at this point. However, they still went through with these merciless strikes. Aside from over one hundred and ninety-two civilian deaths and twenty-nine deminer deaths that occurred after the conflict, the submunitions damaged the Lebanese economy by interfering with the “harvesting of tobacco, citrus, banana, olive crops” by turning agricultural land into minefields.”
The Israeli response to their own disastrous use of cluster munitions is surprising. MK Cohen, an Israeli Colonel, said if “cluster bombs were used in populated areas, this constitutes an indescribable crime. There is no target that cannot be hit without cluster bombs.” Another Israeli Commander said, “What we did was insane and monstrous; we covered entire towns in cluster bombs.” Furthermore, this commander said in order to compensate for the cluster rockets’ imprecision, his unit was ordered to “flood” the area with them. However, a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Force said the decision to use these munitions “was only made after other options had been examined and found to be less effective in ensuring maximal coverage of the missile launching areas.”
The Human Rights Watch determined that a great majority of cluster attacks on the most populated areas lacked a “definite military target.” In fact, the researches from this organization visited more than forty towns and villages and found that only one village had clear evidence of Hezbollah’s presence before and during the attack. Many civilians interviewed could not even identify a military target in the area. The truth is, “Hezbollah fired the vast majority of its rockets from pre-prepared positions outside villages.” If one looks at this on face value, it would appear the Israeli Defense Force wanted to punish the Lebanese people for tolerating Hezbollah rather than solely punishing Hezbollah.
The Israeli government created the Winograd Commission to study their use of cluster munitions in the aftermath of the devastation. The commission found the Israeli Defense Force’s use of these munitions lacked “operational discipline, control, and oversight…and failed to comply with international law.” Furthermore, the Commission also found that “the cluster bomb is inaccurate, it consists of bomblets that are dispersed over a large area, and some of the bomblets do not explode and can cause damage for a long period afterward.” It would appear that because of the reckless disregard for the Lebanese population, Israel failed to meet the proportionality criteria of the Geneva Convention. Furthermore, it is obvious the state of Israel violated the rules of distinction, indiscriminate attacks, and feasible precautions because they failed to distinguish and differentiate between civilian targets and to take precautions to limit civilian casualties. While Hezbollah violated the same laws, they did not violate these laws with the use of devastating cluster munitions.
IV. THE RESOLUTION AND AFTERMATH
A. The United Nations’ Response
The United Nations initially refused to respond and would not request an immediate ceasefire of all hostilities. Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary General at the time, was dismayed by the lack of action. One source said, “International governments and the UN should pull their fingers out and do something. There is a lack of food, lack of water, and lack of medication. There are villages that are cut off from the cities. The Europeans have sat back and supported this because the US is funding Israel and the US is a powerful country.” The U.N. would not escape the judgment of history for their inaction.
It is surprising that member states did not invoke the United for Peace Resolution 337A that “confers a residual responsibility on the General Assembly to act when the Security Council fails to do so.” This resolution provided a way for Arabs and others across the world to help the people of Lebanon, but no one wanted to invoke it. This would mean undermining the powerful nations on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). After a month of bloodshed, the UNSC finally adopted a bias, but binding Resolution.
UNSC Resolution 1701 blamed Hezbollah for initiating the war. It failed to criticize Israel for the massive destruction to civilian life and property caused from their bombings and cluster munitions. It also imposed an obligation to “disarm Hezbollah without placing any restrictions on Israeli military capabilities or policies.” The resolution placed new peacekeepers only on Lebanese territory. It is ambiguous about the withdrawal of the Israeli forces. Finally, it is silent as to Israel’s escalation of force seventy-two hours prior to the ceasefire.
To accompany this resolution, the United Nations planned to assemble a force of fifteen thousand troops to assist in the enforcement of the ceasefire. This force was made up of soldiers from France, Italy, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia, the US, and the European Union. However, the United Nations failed to provide an initial direct mandate for these troops. Perhaps the weakest point of the United Nations’ troop request is the failure to create a mandate that would also enforce their own resolution, UN Resolution 1559. United Nations Resolution 1559 called for the disbanding of all armed and unarmed militias in Lebanon. Disarming Hezbollah, an armed militia, would solve a lot of problems and could prevent a future catastrophe.
However, “a number of countries…made it clear that they will not disarm Hezbollah fighters.” In fact, no one seemed particularly interested with asking Hezbollah to give up their weapons. The only aim of sending United Nations troops was to “create a buffer zone on Israel’s northern border that was free of Hezbollah fighters.” This is confirmed by Major-General Alain Pelligrini, who told reporters the main task of his U.N. force was to ensure that southern Lebanon could not be used as a base for attacks on Israel. He said, "The disarmament of Hezbollah is not the business of UNIFIL. This is a strictly Lebanese affair, which should be resolved at a national level.”
Essentially, the United Nations did not respond until a lot of damage was already done to the people of Lebanon. The UNSC adopted resolution 1701, but Israel still sent thousands of cluster munitions into Lebanon during the last seventy-two hours of the conflict. Israel’s disregard of an imminent ceasefire shows the lack of importance the UNSC actually has. The UNSC did not take aggressive steps to condemn Israel’s actions, but expressly condemned the actions of the Lebanese. Furthermore, the UNSC’s unwillingness to enforce their own resolutions is their own admonition of irrelevance.
B. The International Response
Shortly after the hostilities began, thousands rallied in the streets of London, Paris, Warsaw, Tel Aviv, and other major cities to protest the atrocities committed against the Lebanese people. In fact, more than twenty five thousand people protested in Australian capital cities during this time. Speakers at these events called Israel’s acts of aggression against Lebanon crimes against international law. One protester said, “I do not call Hezbollah terrorists. They are defending themselves and their families. If the media wants to talk about the two soldiers [captured by Hezbollah] then it should talk about the 10,000 people put in jail for over 20 years [by the Israeli government].” This was not the predominant opinion, though. In fact, Arab governments initially criticized Hezbollah for initiating the hostilities with Israel. However, the high number of civilians that were becoming casualties as a result of Israel’s actions caused outrage and their eventual open support of a ceasefire in Lebanon.
C. Rebuilding Lebanon with Competing Forces
The cost of rebuilding homes was estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars. Hezbollah promised to help rebuild and pledged to give civilians money and furniture within hours after the ceasefire was active. Hezbollah promised money for one year of rent and new furniture to those whose homes were completely destroyed. This initial pledge of assistance bought Hezbollah good will in Lebanon. However, it is common knowledge that the money comes from Iran and it comes with ulterior motives.
Other funding came from countries like the United States and NGOs, but not without reservations. President Bush proposed a two hundred and thirty million dollar aid package that was supposed to fund bridge reconstruction and the repairing of schools. While the aid package was nice, the hurdle it had to get through was avoiding the hands of Hezbollah. Walid Phares of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies says, “Hezbollah has long controlled money sent to NGOs and Lebanese government agencies, particularly in southern Lebanon.” It was very difficult to send aid to those affected by the conflict because of Hezbollah’s ability to get their hands on everything. UNICEF, the Red Cross, and Mercy Corps had a great deal of trouble aiding civilians without the aid first going through Hezbollah.
After some time passed, the recovery process hit a significant stalemate. “They told us everything was going to be rebuilt soon…they’re not doing anything now. We want to build but they won’t let us. They promise to pay us, but they don’t. All we want is our homes back and they won’t even let us have them!” Mr. Seyed, a resident of Lebanon, said. Many residents of Bint Jbail, Lebanon accused the Lebanese government of adding red tape as punishment. The government and Hezbollah, who have members of parliament, each had motives for applying red tape. The government appeared to avoid involvement in the reconstruction efforts so they could avoid blame for the inefficiency that would take place during the efforts. Hezbollah significantly reduced its involvement in the recovery effort so they could capitalize on the citizens’ frustration with the Lebanese government’s lack of effort in speeding up the recovery process. The internal politics of Lebanon only made things worse for the Lebanese people after the war.
The 2006 Lebanon War was a tragic event that may happen again if lessons are not learned. The international community can no longer afford to be silent when it comes to affairs between Lebanon and Israel. There is no excuse for civilians to die when the majority of a country’s civilians, like in Lebanon, are not the cause of the provocative event. However, when fringe groups disguise themselves as civilians, civilian casualties are inevitable.
The 2006 Lebanon War also showed the dangers of cluster munitions to the world. While cluster munitions have always been a serious issue, they received more attention after this war. In fact, this war encouraged the signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Strategic Air Strikes can achieve the same means as cluster munitions. The international community needs to get behind banning cluster munitions if only to protect innocent children from falling victim to them.
Conflict between Israel and Lebanon has been going on for decades. If the United Nations does not enforce their resolutions better, the impasse between these two countries is likely to continue. Hezbollah is a provocateur and will continue to be a nuisance to the Lebanese Government and to Israel. Many believe “the only way to disarm Hezbollah is therefore in the context of an agreement Hezbollah itself can be made to accept.” It would be more sensible for the international community to intervene by officially handing the Sheba Farms area back to Lebanon, disarming Hezbollah with the UNIFIL troops, and install peacekeepers to insure Israel stays out of Lebanese territory. This would take away one of the main goals of Hezbollah and allow the people to call for the disarming of this reckless and irresponsible organization. Unfortunately, Hezbollah could also use international cooperation to their demands as a tool to show they were victorious and should receive more power. It is a very complicated situation.
Throwing money at the problem is not enough to prevent it from happening again. Proactive and innovative solutions are the only way to stop another conflict. Furthermore, enforcing international law so that no country feels they are above it is the only way to maintain a standardized approach to legalizing warfare. If certain countries and fringe groups within those countries believe international law is not applicable to them, the entire body of law will suffer and become irrelevant like the United Nations is becoming. Relevance is not permanent, but something that must be fed, clothed, and maintained to survive.
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2. Major Jennifer B. Bottoms, When Close Doesn't Count: An Analysis of Israel's Jus Ad Bellum and Jus in Bello in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War, Army Law. 23, 24 (April 2009).
3. Who Are Hezbollah?, BBC NEWS (Apr. 07, 2010), http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4314423.stm.
4. Barbara Starr, John Vause, and Anthony Mills, Israeli Warplanes Hit Beirut Suburb, CNN (July 14, 2006), http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/07/13/mideast.
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6. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 Aug. 1949, and Relative to the Protection of Civilian Population (Protocol I), art. 51 8, Jun. 1977; See Anzalone, Joseph The Virtue of A Proportional Response: The United States Stance Against the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 22 Pace Int'l L. Rev. 183, 190 (2010)
7. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 Aug. 1949, and Relative to the General Protection of Civilian Objects (Protocol I), art. 52(5)(b), 8 Jun. 1977; See Bottoms at 52.
8. Solomon, Erika, 2006 Lebanon War Still a Point of Contention in Israel, Lebanon, REUTERS (Jul 12, 2009), http://blogs.reuters.com/axismundi/2009/07/12/2006-lebanon-war-still-a-point-of-contention-in-israel-lebanon.
9. Faq: The Second Lebanon War-One year later, ISRAELI MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Jul. 12, 2007), http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Issues/Pages/The%20Second%20Lebanon%20War%20-%20One%20year%20later%20-%20July%202007.aspx#militaryoperations
10. Djansezian, Kevin, Hezbollah Promises to Rebuild in Lebanon, USATODAY (Aug. 16, 2006), http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-08-16-hezbollah-rebuilding_x.htm.
11. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 Aug. 1949 Relative to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflict (Protocol I), art. 48, 8 Jun. 1977.
12. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 Aug. 1949, and Relative to the Protection of Civilian Population (Protocol I), art. 51, 8 Jun. 1977.
13. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 Aug. 1949 Relative to the Precautions in Attack (Protocol I), art. 57(3), 8 Jun. 1977.
14. Bonnie Docherty, Mark Garlasco, and Steve Goose, Flooding South Lebanon: Israel's Use of Cluster Munitions in Lebanon in July and August 2006, 20.2(E) Hum. Rights Watch 13 (2008).
15. Falk, Richard, Assessing the United Nations After the Lebanon War of 2006, (Aug. 16, 2006), http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2006/08/16_falk_after-lebanon.htm.
16. Australia: Thousands Join Global Protests to Condemn Israel's War on Lebanon, WORLD SOCIALIST WEBSITE (Jul. 24, 2006), http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2006/07/aust-j24.html.
17. The UN Force: Who Will Disarm Hezbollah?, SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL (Aug. 16, 2006), http://www.spiegel.de/international/the-un-force-who-will-disarm-hezbollah-a-432019.html.
18. United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 1559
19. U.N. Commander Says His Troops Will Not Disarm Hezbollah, INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE (Sept. 16, 2006), http://web.archive.org/web/20070214100342/http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/09/18/africa/ME_GEN_Mideast_Peacekeepers.php.
20. David S. Cloud and Helen Cooper, Turmoil in the Mideast: Weapons: U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery For the Israelis, THE NEW YORK TIMES. (July 22, 2006), http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/22/world/middleeast/22military.html?ex=1311220800.
21. U.S. Aid to Hezbollah?, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES (Nov. 06, 2013, 2:00 P.M.), http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/us-aid-to-hezbollah.
22. Hassan M. Fattah, Months After War, Vision of Rebuilding Lebanon Wanes, THE NEW YORK TIMES (Jan. 22, 2007), http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/22/world/middleeast/22lebanon.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.