On 12 July 2006, days after a Hezbollah incursion resulted in the deaths and kidnappings of several Israeli soldiers, Israel invaded Lebanon with the aim of destroying Hezbollah. For the following 33 days, Israeli warplanes pounded the country, resulting in the deaths of over 1000 Lebanese civilians. On 14 August fighting finally came to an end, though Israel maintained an air and sea blockade until 8 September. Following the war, Lebanon once again struggled back to its feet. Its tourist industry was hard hit, and homes and infrastructure countrywide were damaged or destroyed.
Major contributors towards Lebanese reconstruction included Saudi Arabia, the European Union and a number of Gulf countries. Lebanon’s problems, however, are far from over. In December 2006, Hezbollah, Amal and various smaller opposition parties overran Beirut’s centre in an attempt to bring down the government. The summer of 2007 saw fierce fighting near Tripoli, with the Lebanese army battling Palestinian militants, while car bombs during the early part of the year killed two anti-Syrian members of parliament. More street fighting erupted in Beirut and Tripoli in early 2008, and a bus bombing in Tripoli in August 2008 prompted fears that Palestinian militant activity had still not been vanquished.
Meanwhile, the world’s media continue to speculate that renewed conflict between Israel and Hezbollah – allegedly rearming furiously – is an ever-increasing likelihood. Though the Lebanese continue to live in hope, it seems fair to assume that the dark days are not over yet. The impact of Syria’s internal conflict which began in 2011 has yet to be fully felt in Lebanon. Syrian refugees have taken shelter in Tripoli and the north of Lebanon. Although there has been some violence in Tripoli between opponents and supporters of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, the rest of the country has remained relatively calm.