Lebanon, “July War”

In 2006 Lebanon becomes the setting of a new and dramatic episode in the Arab-Israeli conflict. On 12 July, Lebanese militants of Hezbollah, a political party backed by Iran and including an armed faction accused of terrorism, launch Katyusha missiles and mortar shells against a number of Israeli villages and attack two Israeli military vehicles on patrol along the border. Two Israeli soldiers are wounded, three are killed and two are captured.
Israel responds with heavy aerial bombardments, artillery shelling, a strategic air and naval blockade, and an invasion on the ground in the southern portion of the country.
During 34 days of fighting, thousands of people die, most of them Lebanese, a large number of infrastructures are damaged in Lebanon, and the number of refugees is estimated at between 800 thousand and a million.
On 11 August 2006, UN Resolution 1701 proposes a reciprocal ceasefire, with the disarmament of the Hezbollah and the withdrawal of the Israeli troops from Lebanon. The resolution, approved by both governments, also calls for a UN buffer force to be deployed in Lebanon. Named UNIFIL, its task is to monitor the cessation of the hostilities, assist the Lebanese Army in exercising sovereign control over the country and see to it that the armed groups disarm.
Humanitarian organisations accuse both governments of having committed war crimes and failed to distinguish between civilians and fighters, in addition to using banned weapons and human shields. It is estimated that 1033 Lebanese lost their lives during the conflict (of whom 55 were militants of Hezbollah or Amal for Lebanon), while there were 160 Israeli dead, 41 of them civilians.
By the end of the fighting, the entire southern portion of the country proved to be an extremely dangerous territory, being strewn with anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines, unexploded ordinance and cluster bombs that hindered the construction of new infrastructure and the return of the refugees to their homes.