Lebanon and Israel have enjoyed a rare calm in the five years since the August 14, 2006 ceasefire that brought an end to that summer’s month-long war, the fiercest ever action waged between Hizballah and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Both sides drew sharp lessons from the 2006 conflict. Despite fighting the IDF to a standstill in southern Lebanon, Hizballah experienced substantial—but sustainable—losses and its “divine victory” came at a cost. Hizballah lost its autonomy over the southern border district, its battle tactics were prematurely exposed, and it had to abandon the military infrastructure of bunkers and firing positions that it had installed over the previous six years.
Israel suffered the humiliation of underestimating its foe, and achieved none of its overly ambitious war goals. The IDF’s poor performance on multiple levels—leadership, coordination, logistics, and fighting capabilities—undermined Israel’s muchprized deterrent factor, and led to the perception of defeat.
The prevailing peace along the Lebanon-Israel border in the intervening five years is a result of both sides absorbing the costs of the 2006 war and the risks inherent in another round of fighting. Yet, although this is the longest period of tranquility along the traditionally volatile frontier since the late 1960s, the calm remains precarious and could be shattered at any time. Neither Hizballah nor Israel believes that the 2006 conflict will be… >>>