Safed Second Lebanon War
|מלחמת לבנון השנייה|
|Milhemet Levanon HaShniya|
|Safed during the Second Lebanon War, July and August 2006.|
When war broke out between Israel and the Hizbollah in the summer of 2006, the residents of Tzfat became the first and one of the most frequent targets of Hizbollah katyusha rockets. Many residents fled the city and went to the center of the country but others stayed behind, trying to stay safe in the new warzone.
The Hizbollah is a political party and a militant group affiliated with the S’hia Muslim theology. It is based in Lebanon and controls South Lebanon along the Israeli-Lebanese border. The group receives funding and weapons from Iran and Syria and promotes the ideology that Israel must be destroyed.
Since the early ‘70s the PLO launched frequent border clashes, terrorist incursions and rocket attacks on Northern Israel from their military camps based in Lebanon’s Beka Valley. These attacks led to the 1982 First Lebanon war.
 First Lebanon War
In 1982, following frequent katyusha rocket fire on northern Israel, Israeli forces crossed over into Lebanon in an attempt to drive the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLO) away from its border.
 Aftermath of the First Lebanon War
Following the 1982 war the Israelis maintained a holding action in South Lebanon. They received assistance from the Southern Lebanese Army (SLA), a Christian military group. Hizbollah grew as a resistance organization which filled the gap left by the PLO’s departure. Hizbollah used tactical suicide bombings and other guerrilla warfare tactics to drive the Israelis from Southern Lebanon. When the Israelis left South Lebanon in 2000, Hizbollah moved into the region and took control of the area.
 Beginning of the Second Lebanon War
On July 12 2006 a Hizbollah unit infiltrated Israeli territory and attacked a border patrol. They took two soldiers captive (it was later discovered that the soldiers had died in the attack). Israeli planes attacked Hizbollah bases by air and the Hizbollah responded by rocketing northern Israeli border communities.
The first katyusha rocket landed on Mt. Meron, outside of Tzfat, on July 13th and within hours Tzfat was under rocket fire. Tzfat was a major target of the Hizbollah throughout the war due to the presence of the Northern Army Command on Tzfat’s Mt. Cana’an and the presence of the regional Safed hospital. This was the first time that the residents of Tzfat understood that Hizbollah rockets could reach their city..
Over the course of the next month the Hizbollah launched 4000 rockets into northern Israel, 700 of them at Tzfat. Many civilians left the city but volunteers arrived in Tzfat from the south to provide food and assistance to people who did not have the means or ability to leave. These included many large families, elderly people and disabled citizens. Several dozen homes were destroyed during the war and many people were injured but miraculously, only one person was killed by the rockets. Many people saw this as an open miracle from G-D.
The Home Front Command and the Tzfat municipality came under a great deal of criticism due to the town’s lack of preparedness for the conflict. Many city workers left, leaving municipal services unfulfilled. Bomb shelters which, by law must be built in every residential building and neighborhood, were generally unusable due to lack of plumbing and electricity facilities. Many shelters were infested and had been used for people’s storage needs, making them uninhabitable.
Following the war various groups, including volunteers of Livnot U’Lehibanot and Keren Yedidut, renovated bomb shelters throughout Tzfat and other towns and settlements in northern Israel.