Operation Grapes of Wrath
- The name applied to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) actions in Lebanon in the spring of 1996 in response to Katyusha rocket firings and terrorist attacks on Israeli civilian targets in the upper Galilee region of northern Israel. The Israeli government had been under pressure to take action toward improving security. Rocket attacks and suicide bombings in Israel had claimed more than 50 victims in February and March 1996. Israeli actions included artillery shelling and the use of helicopter gunships attacking Hezbollah targets. Israel used its air force and artillery corps but decided not to utilize ground forces. In early April 1996, Israel fired missiles and launched air strikes on southern Lebanon bases of the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. The declared intent of the operation was to protect Israeli towns, villages, and kibbutzim by pushing the terrorists out of firing range. By hitting major infrastructure projects in southern Lebanon (such as hydroelectric facilities and highways) and forcing the temporary relocation of the local population northward toward Beirut, Israel sought to achieve two additional goals: to separate the guerrilla factions from the local villages where they were hiding weapons and launching missiles at Israel and to compel the Lebanese central government to take steps to apply sovereign authority over the border region (including disarming and disbanding Hezbollah and other guerrilla factions).Although Operation Grapes of Wrath was initially supported by much of the Israeli public as necessary to ensure the safety of the northern population, the popular mood toward the operation shifted significantly after an errant Israeli missile killed more than 100 Lebanese civilians at a United Nations station at Kfar Qana on 18 April 1996. This incident elicited strong condemnation of Israel by the United Nations General Assembly and by the secretary general. Operation Grapes of Wrath ended with a cease-fire brokered by the United States on 26 April 1996. According to this agreement, Israel and Hezbollah (represented in the understanding by the government of Lebanon) reiterated their commitment (initially established in the context of Operation Accountability of July 1993) to avoid firing on each other's civilian populations. In addition, the 26 April 1996 agreement provided for the establishment of a multiparty monitoring group that would hear and adjudicate complaints of violations of the cease-fire and a consultative group to assist reconstruction in Lebanon.See also Security Zone.
Historical Dictionary of Israel. Bernard Reich David H. Goldberg. Edited by Jon Woronoff..
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