This page shows conflicts between the Arab nations (as a group), and Israel. As a rule, a legal state of war has existed between Israel and her Arab enemies since the beginning of the first war in 1948. Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, and Jordan made peace in 1994. The Palestine Authority, headed by Yassir Arafat and his Al-Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization negotiated a semi-peace, which, from mid-2000 on, has been destroyed through the "Al-Aqsa" Intifada violence. Other Palestinian groups, most notably Hamas, have been at war with Israel continuously. Although Israel and most Arab nations are technically in a continuous state of war, unless otherwise noted, specific outbreaks of fighting are considered to be separate wars.
Israeli War of Independence (1948-1949)
On May 15, one day after the creation of the State of Israel, the Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon invaded the new Jewish state. The Arab forces were significantly larger than Israel's and were better equipped. Yet, coordination and organization were lacking and the Arab armies were often at odds with each other, seeking to incorporate territory from Palestine into their own states. Despite their small numbers, the Jews were well-organized, well-disciplined and well-trained.
The war was marked by long periods of fighting and temporary cease-fires. Finally, fighting officially ended in January 1949, at which time Israel held the 5,600 square miles allotted to it by the UN partition plan plus an addition 2,500 square miles. Transjordan held the eastern sector of Jerusalem and the West Bank and Egypt held the Gaza Strip.
From January to July 1949, armistice agreements were signed with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria based on the frontlines as they were at the end of the fighting. These lines created the borders of the new state and as a result, Israel gained control of the areas which would have been part of the Arab state envisioned by the UN had the Arab world not gone to war with Israel. At the time, Israel hoped that the armistice agreements would lead to official Arab-Israeli peace treaties.
The Arab states, however, refused to recognize Israel's existence and negotiate peace and remained in a state of war with the Jewish state. They continued their economic, political, social and cultural boycott of the Jewish state which was instituted by the Arab League in 1945. The Arab economic boycott of Israel prohibited Arab peoples, companies and states from conducting business both with Israel and with other companies who do business with Israel. They also embarked on a campaign to isolate the Jewish state in the international community.
Some Arab leaders attempted secret negotiations with Israel. Tragically, some of them were murdered, including King Abdullah of Jordan who was assassinated in Jerusalem in 1951.
The Arab states provided little help to Palestinians who became refugees after the war. Only Jordan offered Palestinian Arabs citizenship. Refugee camps were set up and maintained primarily by the United Nations and other international relief organizations.
Qibya Raid (October, 1951)
The Israeli attack on Qibya, Jordan, came against the backdrop of repeated cross-border attacks by Jordanians on Israeli civilians in the years after Israel's War of Independence. After the June 1949 cease-fire between Israel and its Arab neighbors, including Jordan, with whom Israel shared its longest international border, the Mixed Armistice Commission and United Nations Truce Supervision Organization were set up to lessen the danger of violence along Israel's borders. Both failed. Between June 1949 and October 1954, Israel accused Jordan of violating the armistice agreement 1,612 times, killing at least 124 Israelis, wounding hundreds more.
On October 13, 1953, Jordanian terrorists infiltrated the Israeli border and threw a grenade into a house, killing a mother and two children in Tiryat Yehuda. In an effort to prevent further attacks and protect its borders, Israel launched a reprisal raid on Qibiya, a Jordanian town across the border from Tiryat Yehuda. Unit 101, led by then Colonel Ariel Sharon, destroyed 50 homes, killing 69 Jordanian civilians who were hidden inside and had gone unnoticed. Although Sharon claimed he did not know the houses were occupied, the event still shocked and embarrassed Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Nevertheless, the attack, and other such reprisal raids on Jordanian terrorist and army posts brought relative quiet to Israel's Jordanian border.
Egyptian Seizure of the Israeli ship Bat Galim (Summer, 1954)
Egypt seized the Israeli ship Bat Galim as it attempted to enter the Suez Canal. According to various international agreements, the Suez Canal is supposed to be accessible to ships of all nations. This provoked worsening tensions between Israel and Egypt. Egypt ignored Security Council Resolution S/2322 and persisted in interfering with Israel-bound shipping in the Suez Canal. On 28 September 1954, the Israeli freighter Bat Galim, bound from Eritrea to Haifa, was detained in the Canal, its crew arrested, its cargo confiscated Egypt charged that the crew fired on Egyptian fishermen at the entrance to the Canal. The same day, Israel protested in a Note to the Security Council.
Gaza Raid (Feb. 28, 1955)
Operation Black Arrow was an Israeli military operation carried out in Gaza (while under Egyptian control) on 28 February 1955, a response to repeated guerrilla attacks and the seizure of an Israeli ship by Egypt, resulted. Arab governments, but in particular Egypt, sensing the 'refugees’ discontent, capitalized on the opportunity to recruit embittered Palestinians for terrorist actions against Israel. At first, the infiltrations and border transgressions took the form of petty banditry and thievery. However, by 1954, Egyptian military intelligence was taking an active role in providing various forms of support for Palestinian terrorist activity (Fedayeen). After one such atrocity, Israel decided to take decisive action against Egypt for its sponsorship of terror and initiated Operation Black Arrow. Thirty-eight Egyptian soldiers were killed during the operation as were eight Israeli troops. This raid was the largest of its kind against Arab forces since the end of the First Arab-Israeli War in 1949.
The Sinai War (1956)
The invasion and temporary conquest of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula by Israel, while France and Great Britain seized the Suez Canal. In the early 1950s, Egypt violated the terms of the Egyptian-Israeli armistice agreement and blocked Israeli ships from passing through the Suez Canal, a major international waterway. It also began to block traffic through the Straits of Tiran, a narrow passage of water linking the Israeli port of Eilat to the Red Sea. This action effectively cut off the port of Eilat -- Israel's sole outlet to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Closure of the Suez Canal and the Tiran Straits damaged Israel's trade with Asia, for it meant that foreign ships carrying goods bound for Israel and Israeli ships carrying goods bound for the Far East had to travel a long and costly circuitous route to the Atlantic and Israel's Mediterranean ports.
At the same time, Palestinian Arab fedayeen launched cross-border infiltrations and attacks on Israeli civilian centers and military outposts from Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Arab infiltration and Israeli retaliation became a regular pattern of Arab-Israeli relations. Israel hoped that its harsh reprisals would compel Arab governments to restrain infiltrators into Israel. In 1955 alone, 260 Israeli citizens were killed or wounded by fedayeen.
On October 29, 1956, Israel began its assault on Egyptian military positions, capturing the whole of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. On October 31, France and Britain joined the fray and hostilities ended on November 5. The U.S. was caught completely by surprise and voiced strong opposition to the joint attack. The U.S. pressured Israel to withdraw from Egyptian territory. United Nations forces were stationed along the Egyptian-Israeli border to prevent an Egyptian blockade and deter cross-border infiltrations. Israel declared that if Egyptian forces would again blockade the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, it would consider this a casus belli.
Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (1960-Present)
In keeping with their attempts to manipulate and control the Palestinian cause, the Arab states created the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Cairo in 1964. The goal of the PLO, according to its founding charter, was to use violence to liberate Palestine. In 1965, Fatah, the main faction of the PLO, began terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and civilian installations.
Israel faced guerrilla and terrorist warfare from several Palestinian armies, most of whom united under the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), led by Yassir Arafat. Current fighting involves Israel against more religiously militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as against Arafat's Palestinian Authority. (This includes the Palestinian guerrilla warfare against Israel from the 1960's, original Intifada (1988-1992) and the current "Al-Aqsa" Intifada (2000), and the West Bank (2004) and Gaza Invasions (2006) by Israel and the Palestinian suicide and rocket attacks which prompted those invasions.
First al-Fatah (PLO) Raid (Dec. 31, 1964)
Yassir Arafat’s al-Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization conducted its first raid into Israel from Lebanon.
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians reached a new level of intensity and complexity on December 31, 1964, with the first al-Fatah raid into Israel from Lebanon. al-Fatah is a Palestinian political and military group formed in the late 1950s with the aim of retaking land from Israel. Led by Yasser Arafat, the group joined the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in June of 1964.
Israeli-Syrian Border and Air Battle (1965)
The military and political struggle over the Israel-Syrian border centered on four issues: Cultivating agricultural areas in the demilitarized zones. Each time Israeli farmers attempted to cultivate land that the Syrians claimed belonged to local Arabs, Syrian forces interrupted their activity by firing from outposts that overlooked Israel territory, and sometimes major incidents developed, especially in the southern demilitarized zone. On the night of Jan. 31, 1960, units of the Israel Defense Forces carried out an action to wipe out Syrian outposts in Khirbat Tawfiq in the southern zone, but the harassment of Israeli farmers continued, in spite of attempts by the United Nations to mediate the dispute. Fishing in Lake Kinneret. In spite of the fact that all of Lake Kinneret was in Israeli territory and outside the demilitarized zones, the Syrians took advantage of their control over the northeastern shore and attacked fishing boats and police boats in this sector. Israeli units retaliated against Syrian outposts northeast of the lake on the night of Dec. 11, 1955 and against the Nuqayb outpost on March 16–17, 1962.
The most serious incident in this sector was on Aug. 15, 1966, when Israeli police boats were attacked and, in retaliation two Syrian planes were shot down over the lake. Periodically, Israel would provoke Syria to attack boats in order to carry out fierce punitive actions against Syrian positions. Development projects in the demilitarized zones. When Israel began a project to drain Lake ?ulah in 1951, Syria objected to the implementation of works in the central demilitarized zone, claiming that they provided Israel with a military advantage and that some of the work was done on lands that belonged to Arabs. Armed clashes in March and April 1951, followed by deliberations in the Security Council, led to a stoppage of the work and Israel's leaving the Mixed Armistice Commission. Work was renewed in June 1951 after the chairman of the Armistice Commission ruled that these activities did not constitute a breach of the Armistice Agreement and Israel agreed to avoid using Arab lands; the drainage project was completed in 1957. In September 1953, Israel began digging a canal in the demilitarized zone near the Benot Ya'akov Bridge, as part of the plan for the Jordan-Negev Water Carrier. The Syrians again objected, claiming that this constituted a change in the status of the demilitarized zone, and following its complaint to the Security Council, Israel was requested to stop these activities. Israel then abandoned the original plan and in 1959 began work on the Kinneret-Negev Water Carrier.
The National Water Carrier. Some Arab states tended initially to accept the principle of sharing with Israel the waters of the Jordan according to the suggestion made by President Eisenhower's special envoy, Eric Johnston, in 1953. But the program was finally rejected by the *Arab League in October 1955. This rejection was influenced by Syrian pressures to prevent Israel's economic development, despite the fact that Syria was apportioned a good amount of water from the Jordan and Yarmuk rivers. When Israel was about to complete the National Water Carrier in 1964, the Syrian Ba'th government demanded that the Arab states declare war in order to prevent the implementation of the project. Syria's demand was rejected by the Arab Summit Conference in January 1964, which decided instead to adopt an alternate plan and divert the headwaters of the Jordan. Syria's role in the diversion plan was to absorb the waters of the ?a?bani (which flowed from Lebanon), combine them with the flow from the Banyas sources, and direct them into the dam that would be built on the Yarmuk River on the Syrian-Jordanian border. Syrian efforts to prevent Israel from also using the Dan River sources led to serious border incidents in November 1964. Israeli attacks against the Syrian diversion works in 1965–66 eventually stopped the diversion project.
Israel and Syria both claimed sovereignty over several Demilitarized Zones along their border. These Zones were set up as part of the cease-fire ending the First Arab-Israeli War. Israel attempted to farm the land in these Zones, while Syria developed a project to divert water from the Jordan River, which Israel shared with both Syria and Jordan. Syrian forces often fired on Israeli tractors attempting to farm the Zones, while Israel looked for ways to interrupt the Syrian diversion project. On Nov. 13, 1964, Syrian forces stationed on the top of the Golan Heights, a plateau overlooking Israeli territory in the Jordan River valley, fired on Israeli tractors. Israeli forces returned fire. Syrian artillery then targeted Israeli civilian villages. Israel responded with air attacks on Syrian forces. This battle resulted in 4 Israeli dead and 9 wounded. Syrian losses included two tanks and machines involved in the diversion project. One result of this clash was Syria’s accelerated acquisition of more and better Soviet-made fighter planes.
West Bank Raids (May 1965)
After Palestinian guerrilla raids resulting in the deaths of 6 Israelis, the Israeli military conducted raids on the West Bank towns of Qalqilya, Shuna and Jenin.
* 1966 - Israel reported 93 incidents along its borders.
West Bank Raid (April 30 1966)
Israeli forces destroyed over two dozen houses in the West Bank town of Rafat, killing 11 civilians. This attack was in response to Palestinian raids on Israel. Most of these attacks on Israel
West Bank Raids (1966)
Israeli forces raided the Hebron area of the West Bank. These raids resulted in 8 civilian deaths and firefights with the Jordanian Army.
Israeli-Syrian Border Battles (Summer, 1966)
Continued artillery and tank duels along the Golan Heights front led to :
Israeli-Syrian Air Battle (July 7, 1966)
Responding to the continued fighting along the border, Israeli planes attacked Syrian forces, resulting in the loss of one Syrian MiG fighter plane.
Samu Raid (West Bank) (November 13, 1966)
The Samu incident refers to events on November 13, 1966 involving an Israeli military attack on the Jordanian-controlled West Bank village of Samu in response to al-Fatah raids against Israelis near the West Bank border. It was the largest Israeli military operation since the 1956 Suez Crisis and is considered to have been a contributing factor to the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967.
Following a land mine explosion which killed three Israeli policemen and wounded six, Israel decided to launch a large retaliatory raid (called Operation Shredder) into the West Bank, to strike at a Palestinian (al-Fatah) guerrilla base near Hebron. Designed to show Israeli military strength, the raiding force consisted of 10 tanks, forty half-tracks (a troop transportation vehicle) and around 400 soldiers. The force enjoyed air cover from Israeli war planes. This force destroyed a police station at the town of Rujm al-Madfa’ and then moved on to the town of Samu’. As the Israelis demolished houses in Samu’, a small Jordanian force approached and was ambushed by the Israelis. This battle resulted in 15 Jordanian dead and 54 wounded. The leader of the Israeli ambush was killed and 10 of his men wounded. Israeli planes chased off the Jordanian air force, shooting down a Jordanian fighter plane. This raid also resulted in 3 Arab civilian deaths and 96 wounded.
Besides the large numbers of casualties (on both sides) from what was supposed to be a relatively swift and easy raid, Israel suffered diplomatic setbacks. The United States was quite upset over this large attack on one of Washington’s few Arab friends (Jordan’s King Hussein) and at the lack of response to the Syrians, who were the true sponsors of most Palestinian attacks in Israel. Riots broke out in Jordan at the seemingly ineffectual response of the Jordanian military and its apparent inability to protect Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. The Samu raid inflamed Arab public opinion in the Middle East and turned out to be one of the factors leading up to the Six-Day War of 1967.
The Six-Day War (1967)
The Six-Day War involved three distinct battlefronts, tied together by a shared desire on the part of the surrounding Arab states to eliminate Israel and erase the shame of their defeat 19 years earlier when they failed to destroy the nascent Jewish state.
Egypt, the largest Arab state with a population of 31 million, massed troops on its border with Israel and imposed a naval blockade of Israel’s southern port, an act of war. Confronted with these aggressive moves, and the Arab leaders' promises to destroy the Jewish state, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against the Egyptian army and airforce. Egypt’s air force was quickly crippled, and a well-executed Israeli ground offensive routed the Egyptian forces in Gaza and the Sinai peninsula in four days.
Buoyed by false reports of Egyptian success, Jordan initiated offensive actions against Israel from the eastern portion of Jerusalem and from lands it occupied west of the Jordan river (the West Bank). Israeli forces responded by attacking Jordanian military positions. After a three days of fierce fighting, especially in and around Jerusalem, Israeli forces defeated the Jordanians and gained control of all of Jerusalem as well as the West Bank, the historical heartland of the Jewish people known to Israelis as Judea and Samaria.
Following an air attack by the Syrians on the first day of the war, Israel dealt a shattering blow to the Syrian air force. Hostilites continued in the days that followed, and on fifth day of the war, the Israelis mustered enough forces to remove the Syrian threat from the Golan Heights. This difficult operation was completed the following day, bringing the active phase of the war to a close.
In a rapid pre-emptive attack, Israel crushed the military forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria and seized large amounts of land from each. Iraq also participated in the fighting on the Arab side.
The War of Attrition (1968-1970)
The War of Attrition was a limited war fought between Israel and Egypt from 1967 to 1970. Following the 1967 Six Day War, there were no serious diplomatic efforts to resolve the issues at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In September 1967 Arab states formulated the "Three Nos" policy, barring peace, recognition or negotiations with Israel. Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser believed only military initiative would compel Israel or the international community to force a full Israeli withdrawal from Sinai, and hostilities soon resumed along the Suez Canal. These initially took the form of limited artillery duels and small scale incursions into Sinai, but by 1969 the Egyptian Army was prepared for larger scaled operations. On March 8, 1969, Nasser proclaimed the official launch of the War of Attrition, characterized by large scale shelling along the Canal, extensive aerial warfare and commando raids. Hostilities continued until August 1970 and ended with a ceasefire, the frontiers remaining the same as when the war began, with no real commitment to serious peace negotiations.
Israel's victory in the Six-Day War left the entirety of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula up to the eastern bank of the Suez Canal under Israeli occupation. Egypt was determined to regain Sinai, and also sought to mitigate the severity of its defeat. Sporadic clashes were taking place along the cease-fire line, and Egyptian missile boats sank the Israeli destroyer INS Eilat on October 21 of the same year.
Egypt began shelling Israeli positions along the Bar Lev Line, using heavy artillery, MiG aircraft and various other forms of Soviet assistance with the hope of forcing the Israeli government into concessions. Israel responded with aerial bombardments, airborne raids on Egyptian military positions, and aerial strikes against strategic facilities in Egypt.
In August 1970, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt agreed to an "in place" ceasefire under the terms proposed by the Rogers Plan. The plan contained restrictions on missile deployment by both sides, and required the cessation of raids as a precondition for peace. The Egyptians and their Soviet allies rekindled the conflict by violating the agreement shortly thereafter, moving their missiles near to the Suez Canal, and constructing the largest anti-aircraft system yet implemented at that point in history.
The Israelis responded with a policy which their Prime Minister, Golda Meir, dubbed “asymmetrical response”, wherein Israeli retaliation was disproportionately large in comparison to any Egyptian attacks.
Following Nasser’s death in September 1970, his successor, Anwar Al-Sadat, ceased current hostilities with Israel, focusing instead on rebuilding the Egyptian army and planning a full-scale attack on the Israeli forces occupying the eastern bank of the Suez Canal. These plans would materialize three years later in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Ultimately, Israel would return Sinai to Egypt after the two nations signed a peace treaty.
The Yom Kippur (Ramadan) War (1973)
In a surprise attack launched on the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday (the dates also fell on the Muslim Ramadan holiday), Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. Despite aid from Iraq, the Arab forces failed to defeat Israel.
The Yom Kippur War, as it is known in Israel, or the Ramadan War, as it is known in the Arab world, broke out on Oct. 6, 1973, when Egypt's Third Army took Israeli defenses by surprise in the Sinai Peninsula while Syria attacked in the Golan Heights. Israel had captured the Sinai and the Golan in the 1967 Six-Day War. Momentum went the Arabs' way during the first week but rapidly swung in Israel's favor after that.
Israel was helped in large part by an armament airlift ordered by President Nixon. The Soviet Union's Leonid Brezhnev objected and threatened to intervene militarily. In response, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, with Nixon's approval, raised America's nuclear threat level. Kissinger simultaneously pressured Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir not to demolish the Egyptian Third Army, which Israel had surrounded by the third week of the war. Kissinger's aim was to give Egypt a face-saving route to a cease-fire. Hostilities ended on Oct. 26, with Egypt better positioned to negotiate a peace treaty.
Egypt and Syria suffered some 15,000 combat deaths during the three-week conflict. Israel suffered 2,688 combat deaths, the largest toll of any of Israel's conflicts with Arab nations or Palestinians.
Israeli Invasion of Lebanon (1978)
The 1978 South Lebanon conflict (code-named Operation Litani by Israel) was an invasion in Lebanon up to the Litani River carried out by the Israel Defense Forces in 1978. It was a military success for the Israeli Defense Forces, as PLO forces had created a de facto state within a state and were pushed north of the river. Its stated goals were to push Palestinian militant groups, particularly the PLO, away from the border with Israel, and to bolster Israel's ally at the time, the South Lebanon Army because of the attacks against Lebanese Christians and Jews and because of the relentless shelling into Northern Israel. During the 7-day offensive, the Israeli Defence Forces first captured a belt of land approximately 10 kilometres deep, but later expanded north to the Litani river. 20 Israeli soldiers and 1,100–2,000 PLO fighters were killed . According to other source about 2000 Lebanese and Palestinian were killed and some 250,000 refugees fled the area. The PLO retreated north of the Litani River, continuing to fire at the Israelis. However, objections from the Lebanese government led to the creation of the UNIFIL peacekeeping force and a partial Israeli withdrawal.
The Osirak Raid (1981)
An Israeli air attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor. American and coalition forces may have faced a nuclear-armed Iraq during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and again during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, had Israel not destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981.
The attack, codenamed “Operation Opera,” surprised the Iraqis and the rest of the world, though for Israel it had long been in planning. It was only after the failures on the diplomatic front, and the consultation of military and intelligence experts with Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s cabinet, that Israel chose to go ahead with the attack on the Iraqi reactor.
The psychology of the Holocaust played an important role in Menachem Begin’s decision making. According to Rafael Eitan, chief of staff at the time of the attack, Begin insisted that he “will not be the man in whose time there will be a second Holocaust.”
Before the decision was made, Israel investigated a variety of options for destroying the reactor – commandos, paratroopers, helicopters and Phantom jets. The Israelis faced myriad obstacles. They did not know the capability of Iraq’s aerial defenses. The distance between Israel and Iraq was also a challenge – to fly over enemy territory undetected without refueling posed numerous difficulties. In 1979, however, the Israelis discovered that their recently acquired F-16s were capable of carrying two one-ton bombs at low altitude without refueling.
Yet when Israel discovered that it had the capability to launch the attack, it did not jump into it. Instead, in an unconventional move, Chief of Staff Rafi Eitan instead allowed the officers of the General Staff and Intelligence to express their views on the merits of such an attack. At the time, supporters and opponents were equally divided but, according to Eitan, those who opposed the operation in 1981 now realize that they were wrong.
n June 7, 1981, the mission was given a green light. IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Rafael Eitan, briefed the pilots personally. Displaying unusual emotion, he told them: “The alternative is our destruction.” With that speech in mind, fourteen F-15s and F-16s flew off the runway of Etzion Air Force base in the Negev, and proceeded to pass over Jordanian, Saudi, and Iraqi airspace, to attack the French-built Iraqi nuclear reactor. The flight to Iraq was done low-level so as to minimize the possibility of being spotted by aircraft radar in any of the Arab nations the planes flew over.
King Hussein of Jordan was vacationing in Aqaba during the attack. Seeing the planes pass over his head, he immediately notified the Iraqis to warn them that they may be the targets of an Israeli attack. It appears that Iraq never got the message as communication errors prevented the message from reaching Iraq.
Without King Hussein's warning, Iraqi defenses were caught completely by surprise and opened fire too late. In one minute and twenty seconds, the reactor lay in ruins.
The attack was universally criticized. The United States voted for a Security Council resolution condemning Israel and, as a punishment, delayed a shipment of aircraft to Israel that had already been authorized.
The destruction of the reactor helped numerous countries besides Israel. Had Iraq obtained nuclear weapons they might have been able to achieve regional hegemony.19 Ten years after the attack, the American government noted this. In June 1991, during a visit to Israel after the Gulf War, then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney gave Major General David Ivry, then commander of the Israeli Air Force, a satellite photograph of the destroyed reactor. On the photograph, Cheney wrote, “For General David Ivri, with thanks and appreciation for the outstanding job he did on the Iraqi Nuclear Program in 1981, which made our job much easier in Desert Storm.”
The Israeli Invasion of Lebanon (1982-1984)
In response to repeated guerrilla attacks by the PLO, which were launched from South Lebanon, Israel invaded with the intent of destroying Arafat's forces. Syria, which maintained a large army in Lebanon, fought Israel and suffered an embarrassing defeat.
The 1982 Lebanon War, "The First Lebanon War", called Operation Peace for Galilee by Israel, and later known in Israel as the Lebanon War and First Lebanon War, began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon. The Government of Israel launched the military operation after the Abu Nidal Organization's assassination attempt against Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov.
By expelling the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the removal of Syrian influence over Lebanon, and the installment of a pro-Israeli Christian government led by Bachir Gemayel, Israel hoped to sign a treaty which Menachem Begin promised would give Israel "forty years of peace."
Israel would succeed in expelling the PLO from Lebanon. After attacking the PLO, as well as Syrian, leftist and Muslim Lebanese forces, Israel occupied southern Lebanon and eventually surrounded the PLO and elements of the Syrian army. Surrounded in West Beirut and subjected to heavy bombardment, the PLO forces and their allies negotiated passage from Lebanon with the aid of Special Envoy Philip Habib and the protection of international peacekeepers.
However following the assassination of Bachir Gemayel, Israel's position in Beirut became untenable and the signing of a peace treaty became increasingly unlikely. Outrage following Israel's role in the Christian-led Sabra and Shatila Massacre of Palestinian refugees and Israeli popular disillusionment with the war would lead to a withdrawal from Beirut to southern Lebanon. The Shi'a militant group Hezbollah was established in 1982 to fight the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, leading to nearly 20 years of armed conflict. The Lebanese Civil War would continue until 1990, at which point Syria had established complete dominance over Lebanon.
The Israeli Occupation of South Lebanon (1984-2000)
As they withdrew from most of Lebanon seized in the 1982 invasion, Israel held onto a large part of Southern Lebanon with the aid of the "South Lebanon Army (SLA)," a militia set up and supported by Israel. This occupation was opposed by the PLO and other Palestinian groups as an extension of their long-running conflict with Israel. Also, other militia armies (mostly Lebanese Muslim groups), such as Hezbollah (supported by Iran and Syria), stepped up attacks on the Israeli-occupied region as well as on settlements and military targets in northern Israel. In 2000, Israel withdrew from Lebanon and the SLA disbanded.
The First Intifada (1987-1993)
The First Intifada was a Palestinian urban uprising against Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza which lasted from December 1987 to 1993. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.. The Oslo Peace Accords end the Intifada and lead to the formation of the Palestinian Authority with PLO Chief Yasser Arafat as the official leader of the Palestininans.
Palestinian actions primarily included nonviolent civil disobedience and resistance, and it was the first time that Palestinians acted together and as a nation. There were general strikes, boycotts on Israeli products, refusal to pay taxes, graffiti, and barricades, but the Palestinian demonstrations that included stone-throwing by youths against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) defined the violence for many.
Intra-Palestinian violence was a prominent feature of the Intifada, with widespread executions of alleged Israeli collaborators. While Israeli forces killed an estimated 1,100 Palestinians and Palestinians killed 164 Israelis, Palestinians killed an estimated 1,000 other Palestinians as alleged collaborators, although less than half had any proven contact with the Israeli authorities.
The Persian Gulf War (1991)
The Persian Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), codenamed Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 – 28 February 1991) commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a UN-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.
While Israel took no offensive action in this war, Iraq did launch Scud missiles which struck Israel and almost caused Israel's intervention in the Gulf War.
Al-Aqsa Intifada (2000 - 2007)
The Second Intifada was the second Palestinian uprising, urban guerrilla/commando war waged, a period of intensified Palestinian–Israeli violence, which began in late September 2000 and ended roughly around 2005. "Al-Aqsa" is the name of a mosque, constructed in the 8th century AD at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, a location considered the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam. "Intifada" is an Arabic word that translates into English as "uprising".
Palestinian rioting erupted on September 28, 2000, following Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount, a highly sacred area to both Jews and Muslims, also known as Al-Haram Al-Sharif. accompanied by over 1,000 security guards. He stated on that day, "the Temple Mount is in our hands and will remain in our hands. It is the holiest site in Judaism and it is the right of every Jew to visit the Temple Mount". Palestinians have since claimed his act was a provocation and see it as the beginning of the Second Intifada, while others have claimed that Yasser Arafat had pre-planned the uprising.
The death toll, including both military and civilian, is estimated to be 4,453 Palestinians and 1,114 Israelis, as well as 64 foreigners. A 2003 study conducted by Israel's International Institute for Counter-Terrorism concluded that Palestinian fatalities have consisted of more combatants than noncombatants.
The Second Lebanon War (2006)
In response to repeated guerrilla attacks by the the Shiite Lebanese militia Hezbollah, Israel invaded southern Lebanon, set up a naval blockade, and launched a powerful bombing campaign in order to win the release of two captured Israeli soldiers.
On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah terrorists crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel and attacked a group of Israeli soldiers patrolling the border, killing eight soldiers and kidnapping two others – Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Israel responded with precision air strikes specifically aimed at Hezbollah positions and operational assets inside Lebanon; Hezbollah immediately unleashed a barrage of Katyusha rockets targeting civilian population centers in Israel’s northern cities including Kiryat Shemona, Haifa and Safed. The rocket fire continued at an unprecedented pace of more than 100 per day, totaling nearly 4,000 rockets over the duration of the conflict which lasted close to five weeks.
Israel’s air strikes targeted known Hezbollah positions including the offices of its leadership, weapons storage sites, bunkers and rocket launch sites. Israel sought to disable infrastructure used by Hezbollah including Beirut’s airport and certain roads and bridges through which Iran and Syria supplied weaponry to Hezbollah. Air strikes were supported by limited ground incursions to specific villages in southern Lebanon near Israel’s border followed by a broader ground offensive with the goal of expelling as many Hezbollah terrorists as possible from southern Lebanon.
During the conflict, Hezbollah indiscriminately fired Katyusha rockets at Israeli population centers with the intent of harming innocent civilians. At least 157 Israelis were killed during the conflict and countless more injured. The rockets also drove nearly 400,000 Israelis from their homes in the north, while those remaining had to spend long periods in bomb shelters for the duration of the month-long conflict. Damage to northern Israel surpassed $1.5 billion.
Israel responded with air strikes that were intended to hit only legitimate military targets and took extra steps to ensure minimal civilian casualties. In advance of strikes in civilian areas, Israel gave up a certain degree of surprise by dropping fliers and sending radio messages warning civilians to leave specific areas. Israel also employed precise ordnance rather than larger, more effective ordnance to avoid collateral damage. Despite Israel’s best efforts, the situation created on the ground by Hezbollah led to the temporary displacement of 800,000 Lebanese civilians and the death of an estimated 1,000 terrorists of Hezbollah. Hezbollah does not report its casualty figures, and many non-uniformed Hezbollah terrorists are suspected of being among the dead.
Israeli Air Strike on Syria (Sept. 6, 2007)
Israeli warplanes overflew northern Syria, dropping ordnance on a (publicly) unknown target. According to both the New York Times and ABC News, the target was a nuclear facility being built with North Korean aid and assistance.
In 2001, the Mossad, Israel's external intelligence service, was profiling newly-inducted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Visits by North Korean dignitaries, which focused on advanced arms deliveries, were noticed. Aman, Israel's military intelligence department, suggested nuclear arms were being discussed, but the Mossad dismissed this theory. In spring 2004, U.S. intelligence reported multiple communications between Syria and North Korea, and traced the calls to a desert location called al-Kibar. Unit 8200, Israel's signals intelligence and codebreaking unit, added the location to its watch list.
Operation Orchard was an Israeli airstrike on a nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria carried out just after midnight (local time) on September 6, 2007. The White House and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) later confirmed that American intelligence had also indicated the site was a nuclear facility with a military purpose, though Syria denies this. An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation reported evidence of uranium and graphite and concluded that the site bore features resembling an undeclared nuclear reactor. In April 2011, the IAEA officially confirmed that the site was a nuclear reactor.
In August 2007, Israeli commandos from the Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit covertly raided the suspected Syrian nuclear facility and brought nuclear material back to Israel. Two helicopters ferried twelve commandos to the site in order to get photographic evidence and soil samples. The commandos were probably dressed in Syrian uniforms. Although the mission was successful, it had to be aborted earlier than planned after the Israelis were spotted by Syrian soldiers. Soil analysis revealed traces of nuclear activity.
The Israeli Air Force pilots who took part in the operation were personally handpicked by General Eliezer Shkedy, commander of the Israeli Air Force. Shkedy chose pilots whose flying skills matched his own. The pilots began training weeks before the raid. The pilots trained to hit a small target at an angled dive of thirty degrees. During the practice missions, the pilots used dummy bombs which exploded white phosphorus smoke on the target to determine the accuracy of the drops. The drills were carried out over the Negev at night. The pilots were not told of their target until they were briefed by General Shkedy shortly before the operation began. During the briefing, Shkedy assured the pilots that Syrian air defenses would be jammed, and warned them that no bombs were to fall on civilians.
On September 4, key players in the operation met in General Shkedy's headquarters. The photographs taken by a Mossad agent as the ship was being unloaded, as well as the agent's report, were the focus of the meeting.
Several newspapers reported that Iranian general Ali Reza Asgari, who disappeared in February in a possible defection to the West, supplied Western intelligence with information about the site.
According to news reports, the raid was carried out by Israeli Air Force (IAF) 69 Squadron F-15I F-16I, and an ELINT aircraft; as many as eight aircraft participated and at least four of these crossed into Syrian airspace. The fighters were equipped with AGM-65 Maverick missiles, 500 lb bombs, and external fuel tanks. One report stated that a team of elite Israeli Shaldag special-forces commandos arrived at the site the day before so that they could highlight the target with laser beams, while a later report identified Sayeret Matkal special-forces commandos as involved.
The Gaza War (2008-2009)
War between the Palestinian Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip and Israel. Began in December, 2008. The Gaza War, known as Operation Cast Lead in Israel and as the Gaza "Massacre" or the Battle of al-Furqan in Gaza and by Hamas was a three-week armed conflict that took place in the Gaza Strip during the winter of 2008–2009 which started on December 27, 2008. Israel's stated aim was to stop rocket fire into Israel and arms import into the Gaza strip. After the beginning of the conflict, Palestinian groups continued firing rockets in response to what they characterized as "massacres". Israeli forces attacked police stations, military targets including weapons caches and suspected rocket firing teams as well as political and administrative institutions in the opening assault, striking in the densely populated cities of Gaza, Khan Younis and Rafah.
An Israeli ground invasion began on January 3. Infantry commanders were given an unprecedented level of access to coordinate with air, naval, artillery, intelligence, and combat engineering units during this second phase. Various new technologies and hardware were also introduced. On January 5, IDF forces began operating in the densely populated urban centers of Gaza. During the last week of the offensive (from 12 January), Israel mostly hit targets it had damaged previously and struck Palestinian rocket-launching units. Hamas intensified its rocket and mortar attacks against Southern Israel, reaching the major cities of Beersheba and Ashdod for the first time during the conflict. Israeli politicians ultimately decided against striking deeper within Gaza amidst concerns of higher casualties on both sides and increasing international criticism. The war ended on January 18, when Israel first declared a unilateral ceasefire, followed by Hamas' announcing a one-week ceasefire twelve hours later. Israel completed its withdrawal on January 21.
The conflict resulted in between 1,166 and 1,417 Palestinian and 13 Israeli deaths, 4 from friendly fire. In September 2009, a UN special mission, headed by the South African Justice Richard Goldstone, produced a controversial report accusing both Palestinian militants and Israeli Defense Forces of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, and recommended bringing those responsible to justice. In January 2010, the Israeli government released a response criticizing the Goldstone Report and disputing its findings. In 2011, Goldstone wrote that he no longer believed that Israel intentionally targeted civilians in Gaza. The other authors of the report, Hina Jilani, Christine Chinkin and Desmond Travers, rejected Goldstone's reassessment. However, Later on, Goldstone admitted he exaggerated this and was regret for publishing it.
Threat of an Israeli-Iran War (2010 - Present)
Israel views the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran with greater urgency than the rest of the world. Scenarios for a possible Israeli attack on Iran, or an Iranian attack on Israel. Emphasis on the nuclear threat from Iran.
Israel, just hundreds of miles from Iran, sees a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic as the biggest threat to its survival. This has been underscored by the controversies surrounding Iran's nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated references to a destruction of the Jewish state, Iran's arsenal of ballistic missiles capable of striking Israel and its anti-Israel allies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.