Background: Attacks on Israel's Northern and Southern Borders
Posted: March 16, 2007
Update: Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah ended on August 14, 2006, when U.N. Council Resolution 1701 went into effect. The Resolution called for a cessation of hostilities and disarming of Hezbollah. Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon in October 2006 and a new multinational UN peacekeeping force was deployed throughout southern Lebanon. The U.N. resolution also demanded the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers. Although Israel has abided by the resolution, Hezbollah continues to be militarized and the kidnapped Israeli soldiers have not been released.
Terrorist organizations are waging a two-front war against the State of Israel from the north and the south. Israel has no choice but to respond decisively to protect its civilians and its soldiers.
The hundreds of Katyusha and Kassam rockets and the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah and Hamas make it clear that such acts are part and parcel of the terrorist war against freedom and civilized society and it demands international community action.
From the north, on July 12, Hezbollah entered Israeli sovereign territory and kidnapped two Israel soldiers, killing seven and launched unprovoked rocket attacks against Israeli civilian centers. The kidnapped soldiers were brought back to Lebanon where they are being held in an unknown location. Since that time, Hezbollah has continued to lob rockets at Israeli cities and towns, killing and wounding scores of civilians.
• Israel is attacking Lebanese targets in response to an unprovoked attack by Hezbollah. The international community must hold Hezbollah responsible for provoking this crisis, and for the safe return of the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Israel has no interest in military action in Lebanon, but had no choice but to act following Hezbollah's attack.
• Hezbollah crossed the internationally recognized border between Israel and Lebanon, crossing into Israeli sovereign territory. Israel has declared this an act of war, and Hezbollah's attack violates international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions. In May 2000, Israel redeployed its troops from southern Lebanon. The United Nations and the international community has fully recognized Israel's withdrawal and recognizes the boundary between Israel and Lebanon as an international border. In September 2004, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1559, calling on Syria to remove its troops from Lebanese territory and for Hezbollah to disarm. In April 2005, under massive international pressure, Syria withdrew its forces from the country, ending a 29-year military occupation of Lebanon. However, it continues its influence and presence in Lebanon through its proxy force, Hezbollah.
• Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, based in Lebanon, whose goal is the destruction of Israel. In that pursuit it has attacked Israeli and Jewish targets worldwide. It is also responsible for infamous attacks against American military installations in Lebanon in the early 1980's. It is financed and armed by Iran and enjoys full backing from Syria. Hezbollah's attack on Israel has clearly be conducted with the guidance and support of Iran and Syria.
• In recent years Hezbollah has sought legitimacy through its participation in Lebanon's political process and enjoys solid support from the country's Shi'ite community. It is currently a member of the governing coalition. Hezbollah also runs a satellite television network, Al-Manar ("the beacon"), which broadcasts Hezbollah's messages of hate and violence worldwide. Al-Manar is more than Hezbollah's mouthpiece; it is its tool for incitement to terror against Americans and Israelis.
From the south, there have been numerous security threats emanating from the Gaza Strip since Israel's redeployment in August 2005, particularly the near daily launching of Kassam rockets at Israel's southern population centers. The June 25 cross-border attack by Palestinian terrorists on the military installation near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom in southern Israel, in which one soldier was kidnapped, two soldiers were killed and three wounded, was just the latest in a series of escalating provocations by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.
• Hamas bears direct responsibility for the attack on the Israeli military installation and the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit within Israel's pre-1967 borders. Israel's military operations in Gaza are intended to free kidnapped Israeli soldier, Cpt. Gilad Shalit. Israel has made it clear that it has no intention of remaining in Gaza.
• Since Israel's unilateral redeployment from Gaza, Palestinian terrorist groups have launched over 500 rocket attacks at vulnerable southern Israeli cities such as Sderot and nearby environs, landing in or near private homes, schools and day care and recreation centers. As many as 3,000 such attacks have been launched since April 2001. Since June 2004, these rockets have killed at least eight Israelis, including three children.
• Despite repeated appeals by the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority has done nothing to prevent the launching of rocket attacks at Israeli civilians, nor have they prevented the smuggling of arms, including Katyusha rockets from Egypt. In light of this inaction, Israel has no choice but to take steps to protect its population and do all it can to prevent such attacks from being prepared and carried out.
• Although there have been a number of Palestinian casualties as Israel has attempted to stop the launching of Kassam and longer-range Katyusha rockets and in the operation to free Cpl. Shalit, Israel understands that it has a responsibility to prevent civilian Palestinian casualties.