Blue Line (Lebanon)
The Blue Line is a border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel published by the United Nations on 7 June 2000 for the purposes of determining whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon. At the same time, an extension, expressly not to be called the Blue Line nor considered the legally demarcated international boundary according to the UN, identified the Israeli withdrawal line between Lebanon and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
On March 11, 1978, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) operatives, led by Dalal Mugrabi, carried out the Coastal Road massacre within Israel which resulted in the deaths of 37 Israelis, including 13 children. In response, Israeli forces invaded southern Lebanon from which the PLO operated regularly during the 1970s. Starting on the night of March 14–15 and culminating a few days later, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) forces occupied the entire southern part of the country except for the city of Tyre and its surrounding area. This operation is known in Israel as Operation Litani.
On March 15, 1978, the Lebanese Government submitted a strong protest to the United Nations Security Council against the Israeli invasion, stating that it had no connection with the Palestinian operation. On March 19, 1978 the Council adopted Resolution 425, in which it called upon Israel immediately to cease its military action and withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory. It also decided on the immediate establishment of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The first UNIFIL troops arrived in the area on March 23, 1978.
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The Blue Line is based on the deployment of the IDF prior to March 14, 1978. It should not be confused with the Green Line, established in 1949, which is the armistice line of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The 1949 line is in turn the same as the 1923 Mandate Line which was the border between France and Britain's territory (see: Treaty of Sèvres); Lebanon is an ex-French mandate and Palestine / Israel an ex-British mandate. (See League of Nations). The 1949 agreement stated that the line would follow the 1923 line. In 1923 38 boundary markers were placed along the 49 mile boundary and a detailed text description was published. The 2000 Blue Line differs in about a half dozen short stretches from the 1949 line, though never by more than 475 meters.
Borders are usually negotiated between countries, and between 1950 and 1967 Israeli and Lebanese surveyors managed to complete 25 non-contiguous kilometers and mark (but not sign) another quarter of the international border. On April 17, 2000, when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced that Israel would begin withdrawing its forces from Lebanon, the Lebanese government did not want to take part in marking the border. The UN thus conducted its own survey based on the line discussed in United Nations Security Council Resolution 425.
On May 25, 2000, the government of Israel notified the Secretary-General that Israel had redeployed its forces in compliance with Security Council resolutions 425.
From May 24 to June 7, 2000, the Special Envoy travelled to Israel, Lebanon and the Syria to follow up on the implementation of the Secretary-General's May 22 report. The United Nations cartographer and his team, assisted by UNIFIL, worked on the ground to identify a line to be adopted for the practical purposes of confirming the Israeli withdrawal. While it was agreed that this would not be a formal border demarcation, the aim was to identify a line on the ground closely conforming to the internationally recognized boundaries of Lebanon, based on the best available cartographic and other documentary evidence.
On June 7 the completed map showing the withdrawal line was formally transmitted by the Force Commander of UNIFIL to his Lebanese and Israeli counterparts. Notwithstanding their reservations about the line, the Governments of Israel and Lebanon confirmed that identifying this line was solely the responsibility of the United Nations and that they would respect the line as identified. On June 8, UNIFIL teams led by Lebanese Brig. General Imad Anka and Brig. General Amin Htait commenced the work of verifying the Israeli withdrawal behind the line.
On June 16, the Secretary-General reported to the Security Council that Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978) and met the requirements defined in his report of May 22, 2000; namely, Israel had completed the withdrawal in conformity with the line identified by the United Nations, South Lebanese Army militia had been dismantled, and all detainees held at Al-Khiam prison had been freed.
The withdrawal line has been termed the Blue Line in all official UN communications since.
Violations of the Blue line
2000 Hezbollah cross-border raid
On October 7, 2000, three Israeli soldiers—Adi Avitan 22, Staff Sgt. Benyamin Avraham 21, and Staff Sgt. Omar Sawaid 27—were abducted by Hezbollah forces. They were abducted while patrolling the southern (Israeli) side of the demarcation line recognized by the Secretary-General and the Security Council as the Israeli deployment line The soldiers were killed either during the attack or in its immediate aftermath.
2006 Hezbollah cross-border raid
Hezbollah precipitated the 34-day long 2006 Lebanon War when its militants fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence. Of the seven Israeli soldiers in the two jeeps, two were wounded, five were killed, and two soldiers were taken to Lebanon. Israel responded with massive airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon.
Israeli violations of Lebanon's airspace
Following 2000 withdrawal, Lebanon's military authorities report Israeli jets have violated the UN resolution 1701 by entering the country's airspace and breaking sound barriers over several villages in southern parts of the nation. Lebanese troops have responded by firing at the Israeli jets with obsolete anti-aircraft weapons. Lebanese officials have filed over 1600 air space violations by Israel since the 2000 withdrawal.
2010 Israel–Lebanon border clash
On August 3, 2010, Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers opened fire on Israeli army soldiers performing tree-cutting maintenance work on the Israeli side of the Blue Line as confirmed by UNIFIL. One Israeli was killed by Lebanese army fire and three Lebanese died when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded. Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri stated despite the fact that Lebanon accepted earlier the Blue line "The area where the tree was to be cut yesterday ... is south of the Blue Line but is Lebanese territory."  UNIFIL determined that the Israeli troops were on Israeli territory.
2011 Israeli-Lebanon border clash
On August 1, 2011, UNIFIL confirmed a border incident in which no one was hurt. Israel and Lebanon offered differing accounts of the incident. A Lebanese military official said Israeli troops crossed the Blue Line 30 meters into Lebanese territory, prompting Lebanese soldiers to fire warning shots and the Israeli troops to retreat and fire at Lebanese border posts. The Israeli military sources said their forces were within Israeli territory when they came under fire from across the border.
- Green Line (Israel)
- Green Line (Lebanon)
- Purple Line
- Shebaa Farms
- United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559
- United Nations Security Council Resolution 1583
- "International Boundary Studies for most of the world". Retrieved 2008-11-24.
- "18 Jun 2000] SC/6878 : SECURITY COUNCIL ENDORSES SECRETARY-GENERAL’S CONCLUSION ON ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM LEBANON AS OF 16 JUNE". Un.org. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
- "Israelis Held by the Hizbullah - Oct 2000-Jan 2004". mfa.gov.il.
- "Israel, Hezbollah swap prisoners". CNN. January 29, 2004. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
- New York Times via the International Herald Tribune (July 12, 2006). "Clashes spread to Lebanon as Hezbollah raids Israel". Retrieved August 16, 2007.
- Urquhart, Conal (2006-08-11). "Computerised weaponry and high morale". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2006-10-08.
- "Lebanon to UN: Israel breached truce deal hundreds of times".
- UNIFIL says Israelis were in their territory, Beirut refutes claim
- "UN disputes Lebanese claim Israel violated border". Retrieved August 4, 2010.
- Israeli and Lebanese troops trade fire
- Israel and Lebanon exchange shots on border
- SECURITY COUNCIL ENDORSES SECRETARY-GENERAL’S CONCLUSION ON ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM LEBANON AS OF 16 JUNE UN Security Council Press Release SC/6878, June 16, 2000