It was on this day during the 2006 invasion of Lebanon by Israel, that one of the most obscure scandals took place in Lebanese military history. It would not only bring shame upon the Lebanese Army as an institution but more importantly, would add enormous value to Hezbollah’s political and military credibility within Lebanon and beyond.
The conflict, referred to as the July War of 2006 was sparked when an Israeli convoy was conducting a routine border inspection near Lebanon. Hezbollah special forces ambushed the convoy, taking Israeli soldiers captive. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the movement would later confirm that two men were indeed captured, citing his intention to free Lebanese citizens in Israeli jails. Following the abduction of the two soldiers, Israel rejected negotiations and initially ordered large scale bombardments on Lebanese territory. Following the initial phase, IDF special forces were deployed deep into Hezbollah territory. The IDF carried out massive incursions on residential areas and conducted ground assaults on key flash points in an attempt to subdue Hezbollah completely. Bombardments were additionally endorsed in an effort to punish residents living in southern areas for their unrelenting support to the movement. Marjayoun, an important Lebanese district in South Lebanon was one of the areas targeted by the IDF. What ensued in this strategic area between Israeli forces and a segment of the Lebanese army during the July War would significantly damage the reputation of Lebanon’s national army, and strongly bolster Hezbollah’s military and political credibility.
General Daoud’s Tea Party
Whilst Israel was already engaged in ground assaults on Lebanese soil, the Lebanese national army openly stated that it would protect Lebanese territory from any foreign invasion. In doing so, it strengthened Hezbollah’s determination to successfully engage in large scale asymmetrical incursions against Israeli forces, causing its most prestigious tank, the Merkava II, III and IV series to be dethroned. In addition, large segments of Israeli military personnel dispatched deep inside the Hezbollah heartland were left demoralized as Hezbollah sustained its rocket capability and continued to displace Israeli citizens throughout the invasion. As Israeli forces entered Marjayoun, they raided Lebanese army barracks located in the area whilst joint Lebanese security forces were located there. When higher echelons of the Lebanese military establishment urged Lebanese military personnel not to act against the Israeli raids into the barrack, the army allowed the IDF complete access without objection. Israeli ground forces carried out searches and identity checks after having entered the premises.
A Lebanese general, Adnan Daoud and his entourage were subsequently taped as they served tea to IDF forces. The odd encounter became one of the most notorious national scandals to date. The official political stance, which was modest and vague with regard to this incident disappointed many Lebanese. More than anything, it had belittled the image of Lebanese security officers in duty. General Daoud, acting under the orders of his superiors was eventually held responsible for the entire debacle.
Following the scandal, internal Security Forces General Adnan Daoud was placed under house arrest after two local television stations broadcast videotape of him having tea with Israeli Army officers whilst occupying the South. New TV and Al-Manar played the tape, which originally aired on Israeli television and showed Daoud having tea with smiling Israeli soldiers, taking them for a stroll in the courtyard of the Marjayoun barracks. While some would argue that an outgunned Daoud had no choice but to comply and was rendered inactive by his superiors, others say the Marjayoun tea party once again accentuates the vulnerability of the national army. More importantly, it illustrated that at the advent of an Israeli invasion, Hezbollah is the only force that has the military and ideological capacity to guarantee its total commitment to the protection of Lebanese territory. In retrospect, while many Lebanese mark August 11, 2006 as a grim day riddled with betrayal, others have viewed it as a blessing in disguise.