CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon

Hizbollah and Israel continued to trade heavy cross-border blows, underscoring risk of expanded conflict; EU bolstered financial support as security forces cracked down on Syrians amid surging anti-refugee sentiment.

Border clashes between Hizbollah and Israel continued. Lebanon continued to face spectre of all-out war, as Hizbollah expanded territorial range of attacks and deployed more sophisticated weaponry. Notably, Hizbollah missile attack 14 May killed Israeli civilian and injured five soldiers. Hizbollah 15 May struck Israel’s Tel Shamayim military base, some 35km from border – marking group’s deepest strike inside Israel since Oct 2023. Hizbollah 16 May launched Russian-made air-to-surface rockets from drone for first time. Israeli airstrike 5 May killed four civilians in Mays al Jabal town. Israel 18 May said it killed around 300 Hizbollah personnel since Oct; strikes, however, appear to have had little discernible impact on group’s offensive capabilities. Israeli airstrikes 26 May killed at least eight across south; Hizbollah same day reportedly responded by launching over 150 missiles at Israeli targets. Harsh rhetoric and warnings of escalation continued. Hizbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah 13 May said fighting would continue as long as war in Gaza persists, reiterating Hizbollah’s months-long position (see Israel/Palestine). Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant 8 May warned of “hot summer” in border region. Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich 20 May said Israel should threaten to occupy southern Lebanon if Hizbollah does not withdraw north of Litani river. 

Crackdown on Syrian refugees intensified following EU financial support. Following upsurge in violence against Syrian refugees in April, and after Lebanon stopped taking back Syrian refugees crossing to Cyprus “illegally”, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides 2 May announced €1bn support package for refugee relief and migration control, much of which repackaged pre-existing funding commitments; announcement caused public outcry accusing EU of “bribing” Lebanon to permanently settle refugees. General Security 8 May announced measures to crack down on “illegal” Syrian refugees, including forced closure of shops and seizure of vehicles, adding to climate of fear among 1.5mn refugees. First “voluntary return” convoy of over 300 Syrian refugees 14 May left Lebanon, as human rights organisations warned of increased forced deportations.

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon

Hizbollah and Israel traded heavy cross-border blows that escalated in scope and severity, underscoring risk of expanded conflict; mob violence flared against Syrian refugees. 

Hostilities between Hizbollah and Israel expanded in scope and severity. Lebanon continued to face spectre of all-out war against backdrop of direct confrontation between Israel and Iran, and Israel’s war in Gaza (see Iran, Israel-Palestine and Conflict in Focus). In parallel with Iran’s unprecedented direct attack on Israeli territory 13-14 April, Hizbollah launched rockets against Israeli military in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, citing earlier Israeli attacks on Lebanon rather than solidarity with Iran. In response, Israel struck Hizbollah targets in Baalbek in eastern Lebanon. Hizbollah 15 April claimed explosion that wounded several Israeli soldiers. Israel next day killed Hizbollah’s Ismail Yusaf Baz, allegedly group’s coastal region commander. Hizbollah drone strike 17 April wounded fourteen Israeli military personnel and four civilians – marking largest reported injury toll from single Hizbollah attack since Oct. Israeli drone strike 17 April killed at least three Hizbollah members. Further expanding scope of hostilities, Hizbollah 23 April launched drones at Israeli military base north of Acre city, marking deepest attack in Israel since Oct. Israel next day struck some 40 sites linked to Hizbollah, as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant claimed military had killed around half of Hizbollah’s brigade-level commanders. Hizbollah 25 April struck Israeli military convoy with anti-tank missiles and artillery, killing civilian. French mediation efforts continued; clashes could escalate further, particularly if Israeli govt responds to public pressure to confront Hizbollah more forcefully or opts to target Hizbollah in full or partial retaliation for Iranian attacks on its territory.

Intimidation and violence flared against Syrian refugees. Syrian men 8 April reportedly abducted and later killed Pascal Sleiman, official of Christian party Lebanese Forces, which called incident “a political assassination” in thinly-veiled allusion to Hizbollah’s potential involvement; in response, Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah accused Lebanese Forces of instigating civil war. After various political leaders linked Sleiman’s murder with presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, vigilante groups in parts of capital Beirut, Byblos city and elsewhere reportedly targeted Syrians with intimidation and mob violence. 

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon

Cross-border strikes between Hizbollah and Israel persisted as Israel sought to secure Hizbollah’s retreat from border, while tensions during Ramadan in April risk triggering expanded conflict.

Israel continued strikes deep inside Lebanese territory. Lebanon continued to face spectre of all-out war as Israel and Hizbollah engaged in cross-border hostilities amid Israel’s ongoing military campaign in Gaza (see Israel-Palestine). Following first on 26 Feb, Israel 11, 12 and 24-26 March continued to expand strikes to eastern Lebanon, which hosts several key communities aligned with Hizbollah and has not witnessed such attacks since 2006 war. In retaliation, Hizbollah 12 March launched over 100 rockets into northern Israel, and further major missile salvos in response to subsequent Israeli attacks. Israeli drone strike 13 March killed Hamas member outside Tyre city – major urban centre in south. Israeli air strike 26 March killed seven rescue workers, prompting UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL to express “deep concern” over escalating conflict. Israel 31 March killed senior Hizbollah commander, Ismail al-Zin, in Kounine village. Growing severity of strikes, as well as increasing proximity to (and killing of) civilians, risk propelling Hizbollah and Israel towards an open-ended, disastrous war – even though both sides have at times taken clear steps since Oct to avoid massive escalation. Various diplomatic missions continue to seek to find terms for settlement between parties, but Hizbollah repeatedly asserted it will not entertain discussions until ceasefire is reached in Gaza. Further heightening conflict risk, Ramadan – which ends in mid-April – could see rising tensions between Palestinians and Israel, including at Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade, which could provoke further violent actions by Hizbollah or Palestinian armed groups in Lebanon.

Economic crisis and presidential vacuum continued. Amid severe economic hardship, govt struggled to secure funding for its national emergency plan to deal with consequences of spillover from Hamas-Israel war, including providing shelter and supplies for displaced people. Presidential vacuum that has prevailed since 1 Nov 2022 continued with little apparent prospect of resolution as parliament did not hold presidential election session, reflecting deadlock between political factions. Army 11 March claimed it had rescued twenty refugees from sinking boat off coast of Tripoli city.

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon

Deadly cross-border clashes between Hizbollah and Israel escalated further in scope, underscoring risk of expanded regional conflict during Ramadan in March.

Border clashes further expanded in scope, killing dozen civilians in Lebanon. Israeli strike 10 Feb killed two civilians and wounded senior Hizbollah commander in Jadra town, north of major city Saida. Missiles originating from Lebanon 14 Feb struck Israeli military base in Safed in northern Israel, killing soldier and wounding eight others. In retaliation, Israel unleashed widespread bombing in southern Lebanon, which killed at least ten civilians and several Hizbollah members. Israel 26 Feb launched strikes near Baalbek, in eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, some 100km from border – marking deepest attack inside Lebanese territory since 7 Oct; in response, Hizbollah claimed it fired 60 rockets at Israeli base in Golan Heights. Hamas 28 Feb said it fired two salvos of rockets from Lebanon into Israel. Israeli attacks since Oct have seriously damaged vital local infrastructure and agricultural assets, on which many households in south depend, and displaced at least 86,000 residents.

Amid conflict escalation risks, diplomatic engagement remained limited. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant 26 Feb said attacks on Hizbollah would continue regardless of whether there is a ceasefire in Gaza. Hostilities risk propelling Israel and Lebanon’s strongest militant group toward open-ended, disastrous war, just as Israel faces significant public pressure to confront group more forcefully. Further heightening conflict risk, start of Ramadan on 10 March could see rising tensions between Palestinians and Israel – including at Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade as Israel mulls restrictions on Muslim worshippers’ access to Al-Aqsa – which could provoke further violent actions by Hizbollah or Palestinian armed groups in Lebanon. While various diplomatic missions proposed potential terms for settlement, it appeared unlikely such efforts will bear fruit before ceasefire is reached in Gaza.

Executive vacuum and economic crisis persisted. Presidential vacuum that has prevailed since 1 Nov 2022 continued with little apparent prospect of resolution as parliament did not hold presidential election session, reflecting deadlock between political factions. Meanwhile, economic crisis remained severe. Notably, telecommunications workers and army retirees in Feb held strikes and demonstrations in protest of devalued wages and retirement benefits, respectively.

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon

Cross-border hostilities between Hizbollah and Israel continued at high intensity as Israel stepped up pressure to secure Hizbollah’s withdrawal, highlighting risk of expanded regional conflict.

Amid deadly clashes, Israel warned of war. Lebanon continued to face spectre of all-out war as Israel’s campaign in Gaza continued (see Israel-Palestine). In notable escalation, Israeli strike 2 Jan killed senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri and six companions in Hizbollah-controlled area of southern Beirut; in retaliation, Hizbollah 6 Jan attacked Israel’s Meron air control base some 5km from border. Israel 8 Jan killed Hizbollah commander Wissam al-Tawil 10km from border, marking most senior party figure to be killed since 7 Oct; Hizbollah next day claimed to strike Israel’s northern command HQ in Safed city. Anti-tank missile from Lebanon 14 Jan killed two Israel civilians who refused to evacuate border community of Yuval. Hizbollah 23 Jan again struck Mount Meron base. Israeli strikes brought number of displaced residents to at least 82,000, many of whom crowded into nearby urban centres such as Tyre. Meanwhile, Israeli govt continued to face pressure to confront Hizbollah’s presence south of Lebanon’s Litani River, which violates UN Security Council Resolution 1701. As Israel continued to threaten war on northern front, U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein 11 Jan met Lebanese leaders in Beirut to discuss diplomatic options for calming border tensions that could both allay Israel’s security concerns and prove acceptable to Hizbollah. Without immediate diplomatic off-ramp, however, risk of all-out conflict between pair remains pertinent as Israel has signalled willingness to escalate militarily against Hizbollah unless diplomacy succeeds soon. Adding to pressure, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant 29 Jan warned Israeli forces will “very soon go into action” on northern front. 

Presidential vacuum persisted. Country’s presidential vacuum entered its fourteenth consecutive month in Jan with little prospect of breakthrough. Parliament 26 Jan approved budget within constitutional deadline for first time in twenty years but faced widespread criticism over its content. Unidentified hackers 7 Jan launched cyberattack at Beirut airport; Public Works Minister 12 Jan bemoaned 2024 budget’s paltry allocation to airport’s cybersecurity. 

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon

Lebanon continued to face spectre of war as deadly border clashes between Hizbollah and Israel continued to increase in frequency and intensity.

Hostilities resumed on border after temporary de facto truce. Hizbollah and Israel 1 Dec resumed attacks after collapse of so-called humanitarian pause in Gaza lasting seven days, which sides had unofficially observed in north (see Israel-Palestine). Israel expanded its range of targets in southern Lebanon to include residential areas, notably destroying many homes in Aitaroun village on 12 Dec and bringing number of displaced on Lebanese side to over 50,000; Hizbollah reportedly lost some 134 fighters, as of late Dec, while Israeli strikes killed several civilians and one Lebanese Armed Forces soldier. Hizbollah during Dec frequently claimed “direct hits” on Israeli military personnel and infrastructure; notably, Hizbollah strike 7 Dec killed Israeli civilian, marking first such non-military fatality near border since 7 Oct. Although Hizbollah and Israel have avoided large-scale escalation to date, Israeli government increasingly faces domestic pressure to confront Hizbollah’s presence along border, as tens of thousands of residents in northern Israel have been displaced. Israel Defence Minister Yoav Gallant 6 Dec assured Hizbollah would be forced away from border, either by diplomatic or other means. Gallant and Israeli PM Netanyahu 18 Dec reportedly informed U.S. they will allow some time for diplomacy but expect tangible progress; spectre of wider conflict will continue to loom so long as no general ceasefire is reached in Gaza and border hostilities continue, raising risk of escalation by accident or design. Following alleged Israeli assassination of deputy Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut on 2 Jan, Hizbollah vowed retaliation.

Domestic crisis and executive vacuum persisted. Govt continued to struggle to secure funding for its national emergency plan to deal with spillover of Hamas-Israel war. Armed Forces 1 and 17 Dec announced it had rescued 110 and 50 refugees, respectively, off Lebanese coast on Europe-bound boats. Meanwhile, presidential vacuum entered its thirteenth consecutive month in Dec. Parliament 14-15 Dec convened on exceptional basis to extend term of army commander Joseph Aoun, who was scheduled to retire on 10 Jan.

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon

Deadly border clashes between Hizbollah and Israel expanded in scale and scope, further underscoring looming risk of full-scale war.

Hostilities continued in southern Lebanon amid risk of wider conflict. Border clashes persisted between Hizbollah and Israel throughout Nov, with intensity of fighting and casualty count increasing and operations from both sides penetrating deeper into other’s territory, although both appeared keen to avoid massive expansion of conflict; fighting since 7 Oct has killed over 80 Hizbollah fighters and at least ten Israeli soldiers, while displacing over 46,000 residents in south. Notably, Israeli strike in south 5 Nov killed four civilians, including three children. Israeli forces same day claimed Hizbollah killed Israeli civilian with anti-tank missile. Hizbollah’s cross-border attacks 12 Nov reportedly wounded seven Israeli military personnel and ten others. In sign of expanding theatre of fighting, Hamas 6 Nov claimed to have launched rockets from inside Lebanon towards Israeli cities of Haifa and Nahariya, and Israeli drones 11 Nov struck target more than 40km from border. In one of its largest salvos, Hizbollah 23 Nov fired some 50 rockets at Israel after Israel killed five fighters. Such strikes risk high number of casualties, which may unintentionally trigger spiral of escalation toward all-out war. Alternatively, either side may opt to escalate conflict intentionally: if Israeli campaign in Gaza were to pose existential threat to Hamas, Hizbollah’s stance may turn more aggressive, while Israel faces domestic pressure to confront Hizbollah. After ceasefire between Hamas and Israel 24 Nov began (see Israel-Palestine), Hizbollah signalled it would honour ceasefire as long as Israel did. Clashes between group and Israel also occurred in Syria (see Syria).

Executive vacuum and parliamentary paralysis continued. Presidential vacuum prevailing since 1 Nov 2022 persisted with little apparent prospect of resolution. Likewise, parliament remained at virtual standstill as several political parties argue it cannot meet for legislative sessions until it has elected new president. Leading Christian party Lebanese Forces 13 Nov proposed exceptional legislative session to parliament speaker solely to extend term of army chief Joseph Aoun, who is scheduled to retire on 10 Jan 2024.

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon

Border clashes between Hizbollah and Israeli forces killed dozens of militants and multiple Israeli soldiers; hostilities could open new front in Israel-Hamas war in coming weeks.

Lebanon faced spectre of major conflict. Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), Hizbollah repeatedly stated its willingness to militarily intervene to support its ally Hamas. Border areas witnessed pattern of near-daily clashes between group and Israeli forces that killed around 50 Hizbollah fighters and at least eight Israeli soldiers during Oct, with intensity and casualty count inching upward and geographical scope of hostilities reportedly widening late Oct. While clashes appeared to remain manageable, sides ap-peared to be merely one bloody attack – by accident or design – away from triggering escalation that spirals into all-out war, or Hizbollah may intervene to support Hamas as Israeli ground operations in Gaza get under way. Notably, Hizbollah 8 Oct launched several guided rockets into disputed Shebaa farms; Israel 9 Oct killed three Hizbollah fighters in retaliation for alleged infiltration attempt by Palestinian fighters; pair over subsequent days exchanged missiles and shelling. Hizbollah strike 11 Oct allegedly killed Israeli. Israel 17 Oct reportedly killed five Hizbollah fighters in airstrikes.

Syrian refugees faced oppressive govt measures and threats to safety. In sign of rising hostility, caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi 4 Oct claimed Syrians are responsible for 30% of crime and next day ordered authorities to crack down on Syrians without valid residency permits, close down Syrian-owned businesses operating without valid paperwork and enforce “categorical ban” on donations to support Syrian refugees. Large brawl 5 Oct erupted between Lebanese and Syrians in capital Beirut, while reports indicated bands of Lebanese roamed streets at night searching for Syrians to attack.

Presidential vacuum reached one-year anniversary amid economic crisis. No signs of progress emerged of filling presidency, which has been vacant since 1 Nov 2022, reflecting prevailing political deadlock. Economic crisis remained severe despite ongoing period of relative stability for Lebanese Lira, which may have been buoyed by substantial influx of hard currency but could soon face sharp devaluation.

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon

Fighting resurged between Palestinian factions in southern refugee camp, economic crisis and presidential vacuum persisted, and army raised alarm over uptick in irregular Syrian migrants.

Violent clashes continued inside southern Palestinian refugee camp. After period of uneasy calm following clashes in Aug, triggered by late July assassination of Fatah general and three of his bodyguards, intense fighting between Palestinian armed militants 7 Sept resurged in Ein el-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in south; combatants 12 Sept agreed to ceasefire, which collapsed next day before new ceasefire was announced 14 Sept that held thereafter. Fighting killed at least 18 during month, displaced hundreds of camp residents, and forced UN refugee agency UNRWA to suspend all services in camp.

Economic crisis remained severe. Interim Central Bank governor 4 Sept announced replacement of much-criticised Sayrafa platform – used by bank to inject U.S. dollars into market – with alternative system likely using “managed float” of Lebanese Lira; International Monetary Fund 15 Sept praised decision but nonetheless criticised “lack of action” on “urgently needed economic reforms”. Over 100 judges 1 Sept began open-ended strike, protesting devalued salaries. Human Rights Watch 13 Sept reported children in public schools had fallen between one and two years behind their curricula due to school closures. Households in capital Beirut and Mount Lebanon faced recurrent water shortages, as state could not pay for diesel needed to run pumping facilities.

Presidential vacuum entered eleventh consecutive month. French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian 11 Sept conducted three-day visit to try and break prevailing deadlock over election of new president, as parliament had not convened for presidential election session since June, but mission apparently failed to deliver tangible progress.

Concerns rose over irregular Syrian migration. Army 4 Sept claimed that it had stopped more than 1,000 Syrians trying to enter Lebanon over previous week. Caretaker FM Abdallah Bou Habib 6 Sept exhorted international community to provide aid to Syria, arguing deteriorating economic conditions there had sparked recent migration wave. Tensions could rise between host communities and Syrian refugees amid hostile rhetoric from political elites.

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon

Palestinian factions battled in southern refugee camp and Christian and Shiite groups clashed near capital Beirut; Hizbollah-Israel tensions remained high and presidential vacuum continued.

Intra-Palestinian fighting continued, Shiite-Christian hostilities erupted. After 30 July assassination of Fatah general, violent clashes early Aug continued inside Ein el-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in south, resulting in at least 13 deaths, destruction of 400 houses and displacement of several hundred families. Separately, vehicle allegedly carrying Hizbollah ammunition 9 Aug crashed in Kahaleh, Maronite Christian-majority village outside capital Beirut, triggering gunfight that killed resident and Hizbollah member; various Christian parties denounced incident as consequence of Hizbollah maintaining its independent weapons arsenal. Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah 14 Aug called for calm but warned that party’s rivals were seeking to push country into civil war. Leader of Lebanese Forces (LF) party Samir Geagea 14 Aug suggested that Hizbollah may be behind death of former LF coordinator in southern town of Ain Ibl.

Hostile rhetoric continued between Hizbollah and Israel. Following tensions in July over Hizbollah’s alleged build-up of military infrastructure along border, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant 8 Aug threatened to “return Lebanon to the Stone Age”; Nasrallah 14 Aug returned threat. Israel’s UN ambassador 30 Aug said Israel is closer to launching military action in Lebanon than at any time since 2006 war. Bellicose statements come after series of altercations at border, which have increased in regularity since mid-2022. U.S. Treasury 16 Aug designated Hizbollah-linked Lebanese NGO Green Without Borders as terrorist group.

Presidential vacuum entered its tenth consecutive month. Parliament speaker and Hizbollah ally Nabih Berri 8 Aug said Sept dialogue proposed by French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian is opportunity that “should not be missed”. Lack of president kept parliament at standstill, as body 17 Aug failed to secure necessary quorum to hold proposed legislative session.

Economic hardship persisted. Interim Central Bank governor, who succeeded Riad Salameh on 31 July, 17 Aug announced that total liquid foreign exchange reserves are down to around $7bn. Army 9 and 13 Aug announced that it had arrested dozens of people accused of involvement with irregular migration to Europe.

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