Timeline: At war for decades, Lebanon and Israel agree a rare compromise

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Lebanon and Israel have agreed to a US-mediated agreement ending a decades-old dispute over their maritime boundary on Tuesday, a landmark compromise between countries with a history of war.

Here is a timeline of conflict between the states:

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1948

Lebanon fights alongside other Arab states against the nascent state of Israel. Some 100,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes in Palestine during the war arrive in Lebanon as refugees.

1949

Lebanon and Israel conclude an armistice agreement under UN auspices.

1968

Israeli commandos destroyed a dozen passenger planes at Beirut airport, a response to an attack on an Israeli airliner by a Lebanon-based Palestinian group.

1978

Israel invades south Lebanon and sets up an occupation zone in an operation against Palestinian guerrillas.

1982

Israel invades all the way to Beirut. The Syrian army is ousted from Beirut and thousands of Palestinian fighters under Yasser Arafat are evacuated by sea after a bloody 10-week siege.

Israel’s ally and head of Christian militia Lebanese Forces, Bashir Gemayel, is elected president but killed before taking office. Hundreds of civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila are massacred by Christian militiamen allowed in by Israeli troops.

Bashir’s brother, Amin Gemayel, becomes president.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards establish Hezbollah in Lebanon.

1983

The Gemayel government signs an accord with Israel. The terms include ending hostilities and mutual recognition of independence. But implementation hinges on a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon.

Damascus and its Lebanese allies reject the agreement, rendering it still-born.

Israeli soldiers walk next to the Israel-Lebanon border near Shtula in northern Israel April 25, 2022. (Reuters)
Israeli soldiers walk next to the Israel-Lebanon border near Shtula in northern Israel April 25, 2022. (Reuters)

1985

Israel establishes an occupation zone in southern Lebanon, about 15 km (nine miles) deep, after it pulled back from a line further north, controlling the area with a proxy force, the South Lebanon Army.

1996

With Hezbollah regularly attacking Israeli forces in the south and firing rockets into northern Israel, Israel mounts the 17-day “Operation Grapes of Wrath” offensive that kills more than 200 people in Lebanon, including 102 who die when Israel shells a UN base near the south Lebanon village of Qana.

2000

Israel withdraws from southern Lebanon, ending 22 years of occupation.

2006

In July, Hezbollah crosses the border into Israel, kidnaps two Israeli soldiers and kills others, sparking a five-week war. While most of the conflict is fought on land, an Israeli navy vessel is damaged in a Hezbollah missile attack. At least 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 158 Israelis, mostly soldiers, are killed.

2020

The United States revives indirect negotiations between Lebanon and Israel aimed at reaching an agreement on their disputed maritime boundary, with the aim of facilitating oil and gas exploration. Indirect US-mediated talks first began years earlier but never reached a conclusion.

2022

The Lebanese and Israeli governments agree to a US-brokered deal demarcating the maritime boundary, calling it historic. The deal opens the way to offshore oil and gas exploration, and defuses a potential source of conflict.

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