Should school swimming lessons be compulsory in Australia?
4 December 2006
Some experts have helped to answer common questions asked by Australian students about the conflict in Israel and Lebanon.
Tuesday, 22 August 2006
1. What started the fighting?
2. How many people have been killed?
3. What percentage of Beirut is destroyed?
4. Why are they fighting?
5. What weapons are used?
6. Which country was bombed the most?
7. Why is Australia only concerned about Australians in the area and not everyone?
8. What stopped the fighting?
9. What will happen next?
On July12, Hezbollah captured two soldiers and killed eight more in heavy fighting on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Hezbollah wanted to exchange the soldiers for thousands of Palestinian and Arab prisoners who are being held in Israeli jails.
On July 13, Israeli aircraft attacked the airport at Beirut, Lebanon's capital city, and killed more than 20 civilians in attacks on southern Lebanon. The Israeli Prime Minister said they were defending their country from repeated attacks by Hezbollah.
The fighting continued until the UN convinced the two sides to agree to a cease-fire on Monday August 7, 2006.
More than 1,000 Lebanese and 155 Israelis have been killed in the past five weeks of the conflict. But with rescuers yet to reach some bodies buried under rubble, the death toll could still be higher. Most of the Lebanese dead are civilians, and most of the Israeli dead are soldiers.
More than 75 % of the southern part of Beirut is destroyed. Hezbollah has a strong presence in these largely Shi'ite suburbs. It's seen as the seat of power in Beirut of the Hezbollah and Hezbollah commanders.
Many facilities in Beirut, including the airport, Christian TV stations, ports, roads going north into Sunni and Christian areas, major bridges, electric generating plants and oil refineries have been destroyed or severely damaged.
When members of Hezbollah killed eight and captured two soldiers on July 12, 2006 the Israeli government saw this as an act of war against Israel. The Israeli leader said they attacked Hezbollah as they believe the military arm of this group is a threat to their country.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's secretary general says they were fighting because it wants Israel to return land to the Palestinians and to stop pressuring them to give up their weapons. The group is also reported to believe that fighting was a way to show their support to the Palestinian people who are living under Israeli occupation in the region.
Hezbollah also wants to regain territory it considers part of Lebanon, the Shabba Farms, and occupied by Israel since 1967. They also want to use the Israeli prisoners in negotiations to secure the release of Lebanese prisoners held in Israel. This is known as a 'prisoner exchange'.
The Israeli Defence Force has small arms, missiles, artillery, tanks and other armoured vehicles, drones (unpiloted aircraft), helicopters, fighter/bombers and warships.
Hezbollah guerillas have been using small arms, such as automatic rifles, as well as mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missiles and rockets. It's been reported that Hezbollah has used unpiloted aircraft (drones), but some observers believe they were actually missiles.
Remember that countries or organisations fighting a war do not give full details of weapons they use, so this information came from observers and media reports.
Both countries have suffered damage to buildings; people have been displaced, injured and killed. However, Lebanon received more damage from the conflict than Israel.
The Israeli police have reported 3,050 Hezbollah rockets landed in Israel. Israel also fired about 3,000 artillery shells a day into Lebanon, reducing a number of Lebanese towns and villages to ruins.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade helps Australians in trouble overseas through its overseas offices and embassies.
It aims to deliver fair services to all Australian citizens.
Each country has responsibility for its own citizens and so Australia only focuses on helping people with Australian passports.
However, Australia has also given $7.5 million in aid to help civilians in Israel and Lebanon who have been caught up in the fighting which began from July 12, 2006.
SOURCE: DFAT website, AusAid and Consular Services links.
The United Nations convinced Israel and Hezbollah to agree to stop the attacks (cease hostilities). The Hezbollah leader says it will keep the peace, as long as Israel does and as long as the Israeli army leaves southern Lebanon. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he plans to keep his troops in the south of Lebanon until official Lebanese soldiers and a UN peacekeeping force arrives.
The Israeli and Hezbollah leaders think it's possible that the deal to stop fighting (that is the cessation of hostilities) could break down. 45 countries have met with the UN to discuss sending troops to the Middle East to keep the peace.
Lebanon also plans to move its own 15,000 troops towards the south this week, and Israel says its soldiers could leave Lebanon within 10 days.
Aid agencies are trying to deliver food and medicine, and people are being told to be careful, as there are still many unexploded bombs and artillery shells in the areas they are moving back into.
In the 1970s and 1980s there was a civil war in Lebanon. Israel invaded south Lebanon during this war to prevent Palestinian attacks across its northern border.
Israel invaded Lebanon twice in 1978 and 1982.
Hezbollah was set up in 1982 in direct response to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah represents a group of Muslims (called Shia Muslims) who live in Lebanon.
Southern Lebanon and the Bekka Valley are the two main Shia population centres in Lebanon along with Beirut's southern suburbs. Israel occupied southern Lebanon from 1982 until it was forced to withdraw in 2000.
When the Israeli army left Lebanon in 2000, attacks across the border did not stop on both sides.
On July 12, 2006 Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and eight others were killed. This led to a crisis in which Israel launched a military attack against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel did not declare war on Lebanon nor the UN give permission for this attack.
Hezbollah then fired rockets into Israel and the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel continued until Aug. 7, 2006 when the United Nations convinced them to stop fighting.