There's little joy among Lebanese today, despite the Beirut government's quick agreement to back the peace plan co-sponsored by the U.S. and France to end the war between Israeli forces and Hizballah guerrillas. Thousands of Lebanese crammed into cars and headed toward the south of the country, anxious to see if the war left their homes destroyed. The conflict took some 1,000 Lebanese lives, forced another 1 million to become refugees and caused immense destruction. Both sides largely respected the first day of the cease-fire that began Monday morning local time. But some minor skirmishes were reported and few Lebanese were confident that peace would endure.
This, after all, has been Israel's third military intervention in southern Lebanon — always followed by hopeful peace plans — going back 28 years. The latest conflict is the best proof that neither of the earlier campaigns — "Operation Litani" of 1978 and full-scale "Operation Peace for Galilee" in 1982 — brought permanent stability to Lebanon nor security to Israel. Lebanese are asking what makes the current war, and the latest cease-fire agreement to end it, any different?