18:22 GMT24 June 2021
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    On May 24, 2000, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced Israeli forces would withdraw from Lebanon, ending its 22-year occupation. The Shiite militant group Hezbollah emerged from the Lebanese Civil War by fighting Israel and its allies in the South Lebanon Army and has been a commanding force in Lebanese politics since.

    On Monday evening, folks in southern Lebanon celebrated the 21st anniversary of the end of Israeli occupation in novel fashion: by blowing up six abandoned Israeli military bases. 

    According to local media reports, Hezbollah will recreate the storming and destruction of six IDF bases on Monday evening using explosives: Ballat, Hardoun, Al-Bayada, Barashit, Shumaria, and Izeyeh. However, the militant group reportedly cancelled their plans at the last minute, after photojournalists were already in position to record the fireworks.

    ​​Israel launched an invasion of Lebanon in 1978 to destroy Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) bases in southern Lebanon, eventually occupying all of the country south of Beirut with the intent of putting a pro-Israeli government in power amid the ongoing civil war, and then signing a peace accord with that government.

    However, amid steady resistance by Hezbollah and other militias such as Amal, the IDF’s grip on the country steadily declined. They withdrew further and further south, until Barak pulled the IDF out entirely amid fears that "Hezbollah would have enjoyed international legitimacy in their struggle against a foreign occupier" if Israel left otherwise, he told the New York Review at the time.

    However, the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel continued. In 2006, the IDF launched a new invasion of southern Lebanon, which Hezbollah fought to a standstill, forcing the IDF to withdraw. A United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping force was later dispatched to the area to maintain the peace.

    Amid Israel's most recent war with Gaza, which ended last week in a shaky ceasefire, several rockets were launched toward Israeli territory from southern Lebanon, none of which caused damage. In response, the IDF carried out artillery and airstrikes across the border.

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    Tags:
    withdrawal, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Lebanon, Hezbollah
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