The Israel-Hezbollah War and the Winograd Committee

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Sharon Haleva-Amir

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


On 12 July 2006, the Hezbollah terrorist organisation attacked two Israeli Defense Forces’ armored Hummer jeeps patrolling along the border with gunfire and explosives, in the midst of massive shelling attacks on Israel’s north. Three soldiers were killed in the attack and two were taken hostage. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said: ‘No military operation will return the Israeli captured soldiers.… The prisoners will not be returned except through one way: indirect negotiations and a trade of prisoners’ (Al Bawaba News 12 July 2006). Later that day, four Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers were killed when their tank hit a mine some 6 km inside Lebanese territory. The IDF began heavy artillery and tank fire. Israel Air Force jets struck roads, bridges and Hezbollah guerrilla positions in southern Lebanon. The air raids were intended to block any escape route for the guerrillas who may be taking the captured IDF soldiers to areas further removed from the border, in order to prevent an Israeli rescue mission. But this was too late. The information about the kidnapping had arrived considerable time after fact, when the abductors were well inside Lebanon. The destructive air-strike could not halt the abductors. It only fueled the escalation. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened the government on Wednesday night, 12 July 2006, in order to decide Israel’s reaction. The government agreed that the attack had created a completely new situation on the northern border, that Israel must take steps that will ‘exact a price’ (Gutkin 13 July 2006) and restore its deterrence. Olmert rejected Hezbollah’s demand that Israel redeem the kidnapped soldiers’ freedom by releasing Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israel. That night, Israel responded by bombarding bridges in central Lebanon and attacking Hezbollah positions along the border. Hezbollah did not blink and retaliated on 13 July 2006 with Katyusha rockets across northern Israel. One person was killed and dozens were wounded. In Nahariya, a woman died when a rocket struck her home. Another 29 people were injured, including a number of children. Most of the casualties were lightly wounded; one person sustained serious wounds. At least 11 people were wounded when another barrage of Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon struck the northern town of Safed. The Israeli-Hezbollah War ended on 14 August 2006 when the UN Security Council Resolution (no. 1701) entered into force (Security Council SC/8808 2006). In the thirty four days of fighting, 155 Israelis were killed (Ynet 14 August 2006); 36 of them were civilians, killed as a result of the rockets campaign; 119 of them were soldiers, killed in Israel and in Lebanon; 3, 970 rockets were fired on Israel (Rofe-Ofir and Grinberg 14 August 2006), an average of 120 rockets a day. Many of those rockets hit buildings, caused damage and cost lives. About 2, 000 people were injured; many of them suffered shock and anxieties. The estimated damage was more than five billion shekels. On the Lebanese side, these figures are contested. Hezbollah claims that it had suffered about 250 casualties (International Herald Tribune 21 February 2007). Israel had estimated its forces killed 600 Hezbollah fighters (International Herald Tribune 21 February 2007). A UN official estimated the deaths at 500 (Bishop 22 August 2006); Lebanese officials had also estimated that up to 500 fighters were killed and another 1, 500 were injured (Coughlin 4 August 2006). According to the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution S-2/1, 1, 191 Lebanese citizens were killed during the war and 4, 409 citizens were injured (A/HRC/3/2 23 November 2006, p. 3). During the war, voices of protest were heard in Israel, mainly from reserve service soldiers (Reiss 8 August 2006; Scoop 16 August 2006) and journalists. Distinguished writers such as A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz and David Grossman, who had later bereaved his own son, called for the government to avoid the expansion of the military operations and move from the martial arena to the political arena (Horev and Bengal 10 August 2006). After the war, thousands of people have criticised the government’s decisions, demanded the establishment of a national inquiry committee to investigate the war events and called for the resignation of the war architects: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Minister of Defence Amir Peretz and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz (Sheffer 10 September 2006). This article criticises the establishment of the committee and the results it reached, arguing that it was a ‘sold game’: The person under investigation should never be allowed to nominate his judges. This is mockery of justice and travesty of social responsibility.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationViolence and War in Culture and the Media
Subtitle of host publicationFive Disciplinary Lenses
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781136500213
ISBN (Print)9780415665230
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2012 Athina Karatzogianni.


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