This Mediterranean nation created by French Mandate in 1920 under the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI has long been a key hotspot for regional tension and conflict, due in large part to a French attempt to carve up the region along ethnic and religious lines.
Full-scale sectarian violence resulted in civil war in 1975. This conflict pitted Christian groups against Druze, Muslim, and Palestinian militias, the latter refugees from Palestine following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
Political tension and sectarian violence were further exacerbated by an Israeli invasion in 1982, allegedly in response to PLO attacks in northern Israel.
The Israeli invasion and repressive treatment of Shia Muslims resulted in the formation of Hezbollah, which later became an integral part of the Lebanese government. Israel and the United States consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Many Lebanese, however, consider Hezbollah a militia organized to prevent Israeli aggression and encroachment.
In 2006, Israel launched an invasion of Southern Lebanon in an effort to destroy Hezbollah. This effort failed and further emboldened the Shia organization.
According to F. William Engdahl and others, current tension between Israel and Lebanon center on the 2010 discovery of significant natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Israel considers Lebanon’s exploration within the so-called Leviathan Gas Field provocative.
Israel’s response followed a formal ceremony between petroleum giant Total, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, ENI, and Russia’s Novatek.
Agreements were signed to drill for oil and gas in the offshore sector claimed as part of Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone.