In July 2006, the Israel Defense Forces carried out a massive invasion across the Israel-Lebanon border, leading to a month-long conflict that gripped the attention of the world and posed the danger of a far wider regional war.
Israel seized on the detention of several Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah forces in south Lebanon to launch the invasion, under the pretext of rescuing victims of “kidnapping.” It was later revealed that a secret Israeli government committee had two years earlier debated plans for just such a military action.
The invasion received the full political, financial and military backing of the United States. A WSWS Editorial Board statement noted:
The immediate aim of this war—the elimination of Hezbollah as a military and political force within Lebanon—is directed against all mass resistance to Israeli and American domination of the country. The Bush administration and its allies in Jerusalem see this as an essential step toward: (1) the removal of the Syrian Baathist regime, and (2) the launching of a full-scale war against Iran.
Israeli forces carried out brutal attacks as they attempted to seize control of southern Lebanon up to the Litani River. They dropped leaflets urging the population to flee, while the IDF were, in fact, bombing escape routes. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice toured the Middle East, refusing to call for an Israeli ceasefire, thus helping Israel fulfill its war aims.
Despite brazen atrocities, including the killing of at least 57 people, the majority of them children, in an apartment house in the town of Qana, both the Bush administration and the American media gave unstinting support to the Israeli invasion.
The WSWS warned that this policy was aimed at preparing the American public for an expansion of wars throughout the Middle East:
US support for the Israeli war against Lebanon is merely a stepping stone for future military campaigns aimed at bringing about “regime change” in Syria and Iran. Washington intends to allow no regime that poses even a potential challenge to its global ambitions to remain in power.
For all the ferocity of the Israeli attack, Hezbollah, the Shi’ite movement, which had wide support among the most oppressed sections of the Lebanese population, showed unprecedented resistance to the invasion. The IDF made little progress and proved unable to halt retaliatory bombardment of towns in northern Israel. After a month of war, Israel and the Bush administration accepted a ceasefire backed by the UN Security Council.
The outcome was a debacle for Israel and the US. The WSWS explained:
The international image of both Israel and the US has suffered massively. Israel is seen more than ever as a lawless and murderous regime, responsible in Lebanon for carrying out repeated war crimes. The US is seen as the criminal regime pulling the strings; nothing will erase the image of Rice standing in Beirut proclaiming the birth of a “new Middle East” while US-supplied Israeli bombs and missiles were destroying the country.