In mid-2000 Israel withdrew its troops from the security zone in South Lebanon, ending the almost 20-year operation there. Hezbollah guerrillas then turned their attention to the disputed claim for the area called the Sheba’a farms (or Shaba or Chebaa) at the junction of the borders of Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Hezbollah renewed attacks on Israel over their contention that the area belongs to Lebanon. Israeli maps, verified by the United Nations, show the territory as part of Syria which lost it along with the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six Day War. Using the Sheba’a farms dispute as a pretext, Hezbollah continues to attack Israel across the northern border.
In March 2002, Hezbollah terrorists used a collapsible ladder to get over the electronic security fence on the Lebanon border without tripping any alarms. They then carried out a murderous shooting attack against motorists near Kibbutz Matzuva in the western Galilee, in which six Israelis were killed and seven wounded.
After the start of the Israeli Operation Defensive Shield ("Homat Magen" in Israel) against Palestinian Arab terrorists in March 2002, Hezbollah increased cross-border attacks against Israeli positions along its northern border with Lebanon and near Sheba'a farms. In the summer of 2002 there were indications that Hezbollah was assisting al Qaeda (the organization, headed by Usama Bin Laden, that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001). Despite religious differences ? the Iranian-originated Hezbollah is Shiite, while bin Laden and al Qaeda are Sunni ? the two groups have coordinated on a practical level for years. After their loss of control of Afghanistan, al Qaeda began showing up in Lebanon with hints that Lebanon may be their new base of operations, aided and abetted by Hezbollah.