On July 12, 2006, the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah ambushed an Israel Defense Force patrol near the Lebanese border. Three IDF soldiers were killed on the spot and another two were taken hostage. Israel retaliated by bombing the Beirut airport and other key targets. Thus began what Israel refers to as the Second Lebanon War, a conflict that lasted 34 days and set the stage for much of what has happened in the Levant over the last ten years. Israel quietly secured the Israel-Lebanon border, and Hezbollah pivoted to fight in Syria.
Ten years later, both sides face circumstances similar to those that led to war a decade ago. In recent years, Iran has dramatically increased Hezbollah’s weaponry capabilities by supplying Russian-made “Kornet” missiles, surface-to-air missile defense systems, and surface-to-ship cruise missiles. Israel’s concerns are compounded by Tehran’s increasingly assertive regional posture and ballistic missile tests conducted since signing the nuclear agreement. Hezbollah is still Iran’s most impressive export, but it is hemorrhaging fighters in Syria to a sectarian war in which it is outnumbered eight to one. Many throughout the Middle East and in the West believe that regional tensions and hot spots will necessarily drive Israel and Hezbollah to resume hostilities.
On July 26, Hudson Institute hosted a timely panel on the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War and the prospect of resumed conflict. Panelists included Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Israel Reuven Azar, Hudson Senior Fellow Michael Doran, and Foundation for Defense of Democracies Research Fellow Tony Badran. Hudson Senior Fellow Lee Smith moderated the conversation.