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On this day July 12, 2006

Hezbollah initiates Operation True Promise with a cross-border attack committed by Lebanon-based Hezbollah special forces on an Israeli military patrol on 12 July 2006 on Israeli territory.

The operation was originally named “Freedom for Samir Al-Quntar and his brothers” by Hezbollah, but it was shortened to “Operation Truthful Promise”. Using rockets fired on several Israeli towns as a diversion, Hezbollah militants crossed from Lebanon into Israel and ambushed two Israeli Army vehicles, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two.

Hezbollah demanded the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel in exchange for the release of the abducted soldiers. Israel refused and launched a large-scale military campaign across Lebanon in response to the Hezbollah incursion. This marked the start of the 2006 Lebanon War. Two years later, on July 16, 2008, the bodies of the two abducted soldiers were returned to Israel by Hezbollah in exchange for Samir Kuntar and four Hezbollah prisoners.

Hezbollah armed with improved missiles

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, along with Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak, warned yesterday that that the guerrilla group Hezbollah was in possession of more weapons than some governments.

Robert Michael Gates

Gates, after meeting with Barak, said that both Syria and Iran were responsible for providing weapons of “ever increasing capability” to Hezbollah, although he declined to confirm that the group had gained possession of ballistic missiles called Scuds.”

Barak said that missiles owned by Hezbollah had the potential to “disrupt the very delicate balance in Lebanon,” although he stated that a military conflict as a result of the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah was unlikely.

He said that “We [Israel] do not intend to provoke any kind of major collision in Lebanon, or vis-a-vis Syria,” though he added that “we are watching closely these developments and think that they do not contribute to stability in the region.” Read More…

On this day March 22, 1945

Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan, and Yemen founded the Arab League, a regional organization that facilitates political, economic, cultural, scientific and social programs designed to promote the interests of the Arab world.

League of Arab States

League of Arab States

The Arab League currently has 22 members, Egypt’s membership was suspended in 1979 after it signed the Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty, and the League’s headquarters were moved from Cairo to Tunis.

In 1987, Arab countries restored diplomatic relations with Egypt and the country was readmitted to the league in 1989 while the league’s headquarters moved back to Cairo. In September 2006, Venezuela was accepted as an observer, and India in 2007. Read More…

On this day September 16, 1982

A Lebanese militia under the direct command of Elie Hobeika carried out a massacre in the Palestinian refugee camp of Sabra and Shatila, killing thousand civilians.

Aftermath of massacre of Palestinians

Aftermath of massacre of Palestinians

The massacre was carried out by the Lebanese Forces Christian militia group in connection with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), in control of Beirut.

The IDF allowed militiamen to enter two refugee camps, Sabra and Shatila. The exact number killed by the Phalangists is disputed, with estimates ranging from 328 to 3,500.

The Phalangists stood under the direct command of Elie Hobeika, who later became a long-serving Lebanese Member of Parliament and, in the 1990s, a Lebanese cabinet minister.

In June 2001, Chebli Mallat, a left-wing Maronite lawyer, filed a case against Ariel Sharon in Belgium under a law that allowed foreigners to be sued for crimes against humanity. Elie Hobeika publicly declared his intention to testify against Ariel Sharon about his involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacre in a Belgian court’s trial for crimes against humanity. Read More…

On this day September 6, 1970

Members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked four jet aircraft en route from Europe to New York City, landing two of them at Dawson’s Field in Zerqa, Jordan, and one plane in Beirut, Lebanon. The fourth hijacking was successfully foiled.

The planes during the PFLP-hosted press conference

Dawson's Field

In the hijackings four jet aircraft bound for New York City were hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

TWA Flight 741 from Frankfurt am Main (a Boeing 707) and Swissair Flight 100 from Zürich-Kloten Airport (a Douglas DC-8) landed at Al Azraq – also known as Dawson’s Field – a remote desert airstrip in Jordan formerly used as a British Royal Air Force base. Read More…

Israel announces ceasefire

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has announced during a press conference, that Israel will “unilaterally” ceasefire in their offensive in the Gaza Strip at 2:00 a.m. local time in Gaza.

statement-by-pm-ehud-olmertOlmert stated that he understands Hamas does not agree to he ceasefire. He also stated that in order for the Israeli to withdraw from Gaza, Hamas “must stop firing rockets” into Israel, but that excessive rocket fire would cause the Israel Defense Forces to “respond with force”. Read More…

Rockets fired into Israel from Lebanon

At least four Katyusha rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon, injuring at least five people. The rockets landed just six miles from the Israel-Lebanon border in the Israeli city of Nahariya.

Following the attack, the Israeli military fired at least five mortars into Lebanon in an attempt to take out the launch site. No one was injured. So far no group or individuals have claimed responsibility for firing the rockets. Read More…

Lebanon forms unity government with Hezbollah

Lebanese political leaders have agreed to the formation of a 30-member national unity government, in which paramilitary group Hezbollah and its political allies hold effective veto power in the new cabinet. The announcement came seven weeks after the Doha Agreement, which ended an 18-month-long political crisis in Lebanon.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of new cabinet

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora

A decree announcing the cabinet was signed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and President Michel Suleiman. Of the 30 member cabinet, 11 seats were given to the pro-Syria, Hezbollah-led opposition, fulfilling a promise of at least one third of the cabinet and giving them the power to veto legislation.

The ruling coalition appointed 16 cabinet members, and President Suleiman chose the remaining three.

Only one of the 11 opposition ministers, Labor Minister Mohammad Fneish, is from Hezbollah.

The rest are from the organization’s Shi’a, Druze and Christian allies. The opposition also secured the coveted posts of Foreign Minister, Telecommunications Minister, and Deputy Premier. Read More…