As was recovering from a year of cruel assassinations and explosions, it was hit this month yet again by another confrontation with . The year 2005 saw the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and a score of other personalities and bystanders, the mysterious bombing of several civilian targets, and a decline in economic growth to almost nil.


However, no one would have imagined that Hizbullah’s border incident with could spiral into a catastrophic escalation of violence that would give millions of people in only a few hours to run away or seek shelter. The depth of the current crisis is exemplified by the fact that in a matter of 48 hours destroyed much of ‘s major roads and infrastructure, a feat that took the Israelis weeks to do in 1982.

The current Israeli onslaught on has cost, as of the fourth week of July, more than 365 dead, 1,500 wounded and billions of dollars in damage, mostly to the country’s infrastructure and private property. The toll on economic activity is also telling. had expected 2006 to be the best year for tourism since 1974, with estimates of 1.8 million tourists spending $2.5 billion. These expectations vanished into thin air, along with the exodus of tens of thousands of vacationers and expatriates, leading to an economic meltdown, and most commercial activity has come to a standstill.

July 2006 will enter the annals as another episode in a series of Israeli attacks against that started in 1968. The accompanying table shows that has suffered damage valued at $4.6 billion as a result of Israeli attacks over the past 38 years. While waged raids and mini-wars and one major war in 1982 against the Palestinian organizations and later against Hizbullah, it never spared civilian installations and economic infrastructure (roads, bridges, power and water stations, communications), hospitals and schools, manufacturing and commercial establishments and the like.

It was obvious since the attack on Beirut International Airport in 1968, which caused the destruction of 13 Middle East Airlines commercial planes, that the Jewish state was systematic in its endeavor to cause as much economic damage to , a country that was once the showcase of Arab economic genius. This endeavor went far beyond the limits of military confrontations, becoming an obsession in subsequent attacks. 

Between 1968 and 2006, staged over 5,000 military attacks on , including five invasions or major campaigns. Most of the economic damage was caused in the 1978 invasion ($418 million), the 1982 invasion ($1.7 billion), and the 2006 onslaught ($1.6 billion). The attacks harmed all economic sectors and targeted hundreds of thousands of housing units and private property at a cost of $1.6 billion, and of commercial establishments (damages valued at $938 million), manufacturing ($338 million), and airports, airline property and radars ($328 million).

The figures on Lebanese human losses due to the endless Israeli attacks, raids, incursions and invasions, are abundant, from United Nations reports and the International Red Cross, aid agencies, media reports, government statements, hospital records, and news agencies.

The largest single number of human losses occurred in 1982, when waged a major invasion of and killed over 19,000 Lebanese and wounded 32,000.

In total, almost 24,000 Lebanese were killed throughout the Israeli attacks between 1948 and 2006, and 49,000 wounded. Considering compensation only for implicit life earnings per person ($40,000 loss in income for the wounded, and $100,000 for each death), the minimum value of possible indemnities would reach $4.2 billion (this is an under-estimate as most insurance companies quote the actuarial value of a life policy at $1 million dollars per person).

The casualty figures exclude Syrian and Palestinian dead and wounded inside . For example, news agencies mentioned the killing of 9,000 Palestinians in the 1982 invasion, while Syrian government sources mentioned the loss of 6,000 soldiers in that war.

While the pre-1968 period was relatively quiet, the rise of the Palestinian armed presence in Southern Lebanon signaled a new situation, whereby made it a standard policy to wage a disproportionate raid against in response to the slightest commando activities against it. This was ‘s way of collective punishment to create a schism between the Lebanese people and the PLO and to hold the Lebanese government responsible for the Palestinian guerrilla activity inside .

Between 1968 and 1974, carried out 3,000 attacks, killing 880 civilians and wounding 4,000 others. In 1975-77, it waged 170 attacks that killed 182 Lebanese. In the 1978 invasion (dubbed the Litani Operation), killed 1,168 civilians and wounded 5000. Similar losses were reported for 1979-1981 that preceded the largest invasion in 1982.

Over the 1968-2006 period, all major incursions caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians, especially from the southern regions to safer areas up north. For example, the current crisis forced almost 1 million Lebanese to leave their homes, which meant loss of safety and security, hardships in obtaining shelter, medicine, food, and amenities of life.

Kamal Dib ( is a Canadian economist of Lebanese origin whose most recent book on the Middle East is titled "Warlords and Merchants."