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"Operation Grapes of Wrath "

On 11 April 1996 the IDF launched an intense 16-day attack on Lebanon in response to repeated rocket attacks on Israel's northern region. Although the aim of the operation was to achieve the complete cessation of rocket attacks by Hizballah, the attack was also seen as an attempt to undermine the popular support for Hizballah among the Lebanese and to prompt Syria to exercise its control over Hizballah. The operation also attempted to carried a message to the Lebanese government by bombing electric power plants near Beirut. This was seen as an implicit warning to the Lebanese authorities that their economic recovery and rebuilding of the country's infrastructure were at stake if they too did not rein the Hizballah.

During the operation the IDF attacked Hizballah strongholds, training grounds and personnel. The Israeli Air Force and artillery destroyed Hizballah headquarters, training sites, staging areas and residences of Hizballah leaders as well as large numbers of Katyusha launchers and mortars. To avoid Israeli casualties the IDF did not commit large-scale ground forces in search and destroy missions. In part due to this fact, not all of the Katyusha rockets were destroyed.

During the campaign a tragic incident occurred when the IDF responded to a Hizballah attack launched from close proximity to a UNIFIL camp where Lebanese civilians had assembled to seek shelter. IDF artillery shells hit the camp, killing 4 UNIFIL soldiers and some 100 Lebanese civilians. This incident was condemned internationally and intensified efforts to seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

On 27 April 1996 a cease-fire understanding was reached between Israel and Hizballah which outlined the rules of conduct of the forces in the area. These understandings, similar to those reached in 1993, stated that Israel would not attack Lebanese villages while the Hizballah would refrain from launching attacks out of these villages or attack civilian targets. It also set up a Monitoring Committee for the Implementation of the Grapes of Wrath Understandings, comprised of representatives from the US, France, Syria, Israel and Lebanon which convene to monitor and discuss infringements of the understandings by the two sides.




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