1982 Lebanon War

1982 Lebanon War
Part of Israeli-Lebanese conflict, Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon (Israeli–Palestinian conflict) and Lebanese Civil War
Lebanese Army, Beirut, Lebanon 1982.jpg
Civil war Lebanon map 1983a.gif
Top: Lebanese troops in Beirut, 1982
Bottom: Map of the military situation in Lebanon in 1983
Date6 June 1982 – June 1985
(main phase June–September 1982)
Location
Southern Lebanon
ResultIsraeli tactical victories but overall strategic failure.[4][5][6][7]
Syrian political advantage[8]
Territorial
changes
Self-proclaimed Free Lebanon State slowly transforms into South Lebanon Security Zone
Belligerents

 Israel
Forces Libanaises Flag.svg Lebanese Front

Free Lebanon Army

Flag of Palestine.svg PLO
Syria Syria
Jammoul
Flag of the Amal Movement.svg Amal

Commanders and leaders

Israel:
Menachem Begin
(Prime Minister)
Ariel Sharon
(Ministry of Defence)
Rafael Eitan
(Army Chief of Staff)
David Ivry
(Israeli Air Force)
Ze'ev Almog
(Israeli Sea Corps)


Phalange:
Bachir Gemayel 
Fadi Frem
Elie Hobeika
Al-Tanzim:
Fawzi Mahfuz
SLA:
Saad Haddad

PLO:
Yasser Arafat
(Chairman of the PLO)


Syria:
Hafez al-Assad
(President)
Mustafa Tlass
(Minister of Defense)
LCP:
George Hawi
Elias Atallah
Hezbollah:
Abbas al-Musawi
Al-Mourabitoun:
Ibrahim Kulaylat
Amal:
Nabih Berri
ASALA:
Monte Melkonian
PKK:
Mahsum Korkmaz
Others:
Muhsin Ibrahim
Abbas al-Musawi
Ragheb Harb
Murat Karayılan
Inaam Raad
Said Shaaban
Strength
Israel:
78,000 troops
800 tanks
1,500 APCs
634 aircraft
LF:
30,000 troops
SLA:
5,000 troops
97 tanks
Syria:
22,000 troops
352 tanks
300 APCs
450 aircraft
300 artillery pieces
100 anti-aircraft guns
125 SAM batteries
PLO:
15,000 troops
80 tanks
150 APCs
350+ artillery pieces
250+ anti-aircraft guns
Casualties and losses
Israel:
657 dead
3,887 wounded[11]
4 missing
8 captured
30 tanks lost
100 tanks damaged
175 APCs destroyed or damaged[12]
1 aircraft lost
2 helicopters lost
PLO:1,000–2,400 killed[13][14]
6,000 captured[15]
Syria: 1,200 killed
296 captured
300–350 tanks lost
150 APCs lost
~100 artillery pieces lost
82–86 aircraft lost
12 helicopters lost
29 SAM missile batteries lost[12]
Civilians: See Casualties below.

The 1982 Lebanon War, dubbed Operation Peace for Galilee (Hebrew: מבצע שלום הגליל, or מבצע של"גMivtsa Shlom HaGalil or Mivtsa Sheleg) by the Israeli government, later known in Israel as the Lebanon War or the First Lebanon War (Hebrew: מלחמת לבנון הראשונה‎, Milhemet Levanon Harishona), and known in Lebanon as "the invasion" (Arabic: الاجتياح‎, Al-ijtiyāḥ), began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) invaded southern Lebanon, after repeated attacks and counter-attacks between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) operating in southern Lebanon and the IDF that had caused civilian casualties on both sides of the border.[16][17][18] The military operation was launched after gunmen from Abu Nidal's organization attempted to assassinate Shlomo Argov, Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin blamed Abu Nidal's enemy, the PLO, for the incident,[19][20] and treated the incident as a casus belli for the invasion.[21][22][i]

After attacking the PLO – as well as Syrian, leftist, and Muslim Lebanese forces – the Israeli military, in cooperation with the Maronite allies and the self-proclaimed Free Lebanon State, occupied southern Lebanon, eventually surrounding the PLO and elements of the Syrian Army. Surrounded in West Beirut and subjected to heavy bombardment, the PLO forces and their allies negotiated passage from Lebanon with the aid of United States Special Envoy Philip Habib and the protection of international peacekeepers. The PLO, under the chairmanship of Yasser Arafat, had relocated its headquarters to Tripoli in June 1982. By expelling the PLO, removing Syrian influence over Lebanon, and installing a pro-Israeli Christian government led by President Bachir Gemayel, Israel hoped to sign a treaty which Menachem Begin promised would give Israel "forty years of peace".[23]

Following the assassination of Gemayel in September 1982, Israel's position in Beirut became untenable and the signing of a peace treaty became increasingly unlikely. Outrage following Israel's role in the Phalangist-perpetrated Sabra and Shatila massacre, of mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites, and Israeli popular disillusionment with the war would lead to a gradual withdrawal from Beirut to the areas claimed by the self-proclaimed Free Lebanon State in southern Lebanon (later to become the South Lebanon security belt), which was initiated following the 17 May Agreement and Syria's change of attitude towards the PLO. After Israeli forces withdrew from most of Lebanon, the War of the Camps broke out between Lebanese factions, the remains of the PLO and Syria, in which Syria fought its former Palestinian allies. At the same time, Shi'a militant groups began consolidating and waging a low-intensity guerrilla war over the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, leading to 15 years of low-scale armed conflict. The Lebanese Civil War would continue until 1990, at which point Syria had established complete dominance over Lebanon.[24]

Background

Relocation of PLO from Jordan to South Lebanon

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Lebanon became home to more than 110,000 Palestinian refugees, after their settlements in Palestine and Israel had been depopulated as a result of the war.[25] After its founding in 1964 and the radicalization among Palestinians, which followed the Six-Day War, the PLO became a powerful force, then centred in Jordan. The large influx of Palestinians from Jordan after the Black September conflict caused an additional demographic imbalance within Lebanese society and its democratic institutions established earlier by the National Pact.[26] By 1975, the refugees numbered more than 300,000 and the PLO in effect created an unofficial state-within-a-state, particularly in Southern Lebanon, which then played an important role in the Lebanese Civil War.

Continual violence near the Lebanese border occurred between Israel and the PLO starting from 1968; this peaked, following the relocation of PLO bases to Lebanon after the civil war in Jordan.

Lebanese Civil War

Incidents 1975–1980

The violence between Israel and the PLO peaked during Operation Litani in 1978, provoked by the Coastal Road Massacre which was carried out by Palestinian militants. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was created after the incursion, following the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 425 in March 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, restore international peace and security, and help the government of Lebanon restore its effective authority in the area.[27]

As early as 1976, Israel had been assisting Lebanese Christian militias in their sporadic battles against the PLO.[28] During Operation Litani in 1978, Israel established a security zone in southern Lebanon with mostly Christian inhabitants, in which they began to supply training and arms to Christian militias which would later form the South Lebanese Army.[29] But Israel's main partner was to be the Maronite Phalange party, whose paramilitary was led by Bashir Gemayel, a rising figure in Lebanese politics.[29] Gemayel's strategy during the early stages of the Lebanese Civil War was to provoke the Syrians into retaliatory attacks on Christians, such that Israel could not ignore. In 1978, Menachem Begin declared that Israel would not allow a genocide of Lebanese Christians, while refusing direct intervention.[30] Hundreds of Lebanese militiamen began to train in Israel, at the IDF Staff and Command College. The relationship between Israel and the Maronites began to grow into a political-strategic alliance, and members of the Israeli government like Ariel Sharon began to conceive of a plan to install a pro-Israel Christian government in Lebanon, as it was known that Bashir wanted to remove the PLO and all Palestinian refugees in the country.[31]

During the period June to December 1980 the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) recorded an increase in activities along the border zone. No attacks by Palestinian forces on Israel were recorded, while the IDF incursions across the armistice line into Lebanon increased markedly, with minefields being laid, gun posts established, and generally involving numerous violations of Lebanese air-space and territorial waters. This was formally protested by the Lebanese government to the UN Security Council and General Assembly in several communications as violations by Israel of United Nations Security Council Resolution 425. During the same period Israel protested numerous attacks by Palestinian forces, unrelated to the Lebanese border zone.[32]

1981 events and cease-fire

In his report for the period of 12 December 1980 to 12 June 1981 on UNIFIL activities, the Security Council Secretary General noted that infiltrations into the border zone by Palestinian armed forces had decreased relative to the previous six months.[33] In contrast the IDF had launched various attacks on Lebanese territory often in support of the Lebanese Christian militia. In doing so Israel had violated UN Security Council resolution 425 on hundreds of occasions [paragraph 58]. Where the initiator(s) of attacks could be identified in the report, in 15 cases Palestinian militants were to blame while on 23 occasions the Militia and/or the IDF were the instigators, the latter also being responsible for the most violent confrontation of the period on 27 April [paragraph 52].

In the subsequent period 16 June to 10 December 1981,[34] a relative quiet was reported continuing from 29 May 1981 until 10 July. This was broken when "Israeli aircraft resumed strikes against targets in southern Lebanon north of the UNIFIL area. (The Israeli strikes) led to exchanges of heavy firing between armed elements (Palestinians), on the one hand, and IDF and the de facto forces (Christian Militia) on the other. On 13 and 14 July, widespread Israeli air-strikes continued. Armed elements (Palestinians) fired into the enclave and northern Israel." Israeli-initiated attacks had led to rocket and artillery fire on northern Israel. This pattern continued in the coming days.

Israel renewed its air strikes in an attempt to trigger a war that would allow it to drive out the PLO and restore peace to the region.[35] On 17 July, the Israel Air Force launched a massive attack on PLO buildings in downtown Beirut. "Perhaps as many as three hundred died, and eight hundred were wounded, the great majority of them civilians."[36] The Israeli army also heavily targeted PLO positions in south Lebanon without success in suppressing Palestinian rocket launchers and guns. As a result, thousands of Israeli citizens who resided near the Lebanese border headed south. There patterns of Israeli-initiated airstrikes and Palestinian retaliations with attacks on northern Israel are in contrast with the official Israeli version "A ceasefire declared in July 1981 was broken: the terrorists continued to carry out attacks against Israeli targets in Israel and abroad, and the threat to the northern settlements became unbearable."[37]

On 24 July 1981, United States Undersecretary of State Philip Habib brokered a ceasefire badly needed by both parties,[34] the best achievable result from negotiations via intermediaries, aimed at complying with the decisions of UN Security Council resolution 490. The process was complicated, requiring

shuttle diplomacy between Damascus, Jerusalem, and Beirut, United States. Philip Habib concluded a ceasefire across the Lebanon border between Israel and the PLO. Habib could not talk to the PLO directly because of Kissinger's directive, so he used a Saudi member of the royal family as mediator. The agreement was oral – nothing could be written down since Israel and the PLO did not recognize each other and refused to negotiate with each other – but they came up with a truce. ... Thus the border between Lebanon and Israel suddenly stabilized after over a decade of routine bombing.[38]

Between July 1981 and June 1982, as a result of the Habib ceasefire, the Lebanese-Israeli border "enjoyed a state of calm unprecedented since 1968."[24] But the 'calm' was tense. US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig filed a report with US President Ronald Reagan on Saturday 30 January 1982 that revealed Secretary Haig's fear that Israel might, at the slightest provocation, start a war against Lebanon.[39]

The 'calm' lasted nine months. Then, on 21 April 1982, after a landmine killed an Israeli officer while he was visiting a South Lebanese Army gun emplacement in Taibe, Lebanon, the Israeli Air Force attacked the Palestinian-controlled coastal town of Damour, killing 23 people.[40] Fisk reports further on this incident: "The Israelis did not say what the soldier was doing ... I discovered that he was visiting one of Haddad's artillery positions (Christian militia) and that the mine could have been lain [sic] as long ago as 1978, perhaps even by the Israelis themselves".

On 9 May 1982, Israeli aircraft again attacked targets in Lebanon. Later that same day, UNIFIL observed the firing of rockets from Palestinian positions in the Tyre region into northern Israel, but none of the projectiles hit Israeli towns[41] – the gunners had been ordered to miss.[36] Major-General Erskine (Ghana), Chief of Staff of UNTSO reported to the Secretary-General and the Security Council (S/14789, S/15194) that from August 1981 to May 1982, inclusive, there were 2096 violations of Lebanese airspace and 652 violations of Lebanese territorial waters.[42][43] The freedom of movement of UNIFIL personnel and UNTSO observers within the enclave remained restricted due to the actions of Amal and the South Lebanon Army under Major Saad Haddad's leadership with the backing of Israeli military forces.[43]

Prior to establishing ceasefire in July 1981, U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim noted: "After several weeks of relative quiet in the area, a new cycle of violence has begun and has, in the past week, steadily intensified." He further stated: "There have been heavy civilian casualties in Lebanon; there have been civilian casualties in Israel as well. I deeply deplore the extensive human suffering caused by these developments." The President of the U.N. Security Council, Ide Oumarou of Niger, expressed "deep concern at the extent of the loss of life and the scale of the destruction caused by the deplorable events that have been taking place for several days in Lebanon".[44][45]

Immediate causes

From the ceasefire, established in July 1981, until the start of the war, the Israeli government reported 270 terrorist attacks by the PLO in Israel, the occupied territories, and the Jordanian and Lebanese border (in addition to 20 attacks on Israeli interests abroad).[46]

In Ariel Sharon's biography by his son, Gilad Sharon, the author referring to the Habib ceasefire, comments: "However, the agreement was explicit only regarding preventing terror from Lebanon, which is why my father encouraged the cabinet not to accept the offer as presented by the Americans."[47]

The cease-fire, as both the PLO and the Americans saw it, did not include terror attacks stemming from Lebanon and carried out against Jews in Europe and other locales. In a meeting my father had with Alexander Haig and Philip Habib on May 25, 1982, Habib repeated what he had already said many times before: "Terrorist attacks against Israelis and Jews in Europe are not included in the cease-fire agreement.

Arafat pressured the radical factions to maintain the ceasefire because he did not wish to provoke the Israelis into an all-out attack. The PLO acceptance of the ceasefire had led to dissension even within Fatah itself. A faction sympathetic to Abu Nidal forced a military confrontation, with accompanying arrests and executions — an event unprecedented in PLO internal disputes'. Arafat even attempted to distance himself from Palestinian unrest on the West Bank to prevent an Israeli attack. In contrast, Begin, Sharon and Eitan were searching for any excuse to neutralize their military opponents through a breach of the ceasefire. They believed that Arafat was buying time to build up his conventional forces. The Israeli interpretation of the conditions for the ceasefire placed responsibility for any act of Palestinian violence on Arafat's shoulders. It presumed that Arafat had complete control, not only over all factions within the PLO such as the rejectionist Popular Front of George Habash, but also over those outside such as Abu Nidal's Fatah Revolutionary Council and Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front — General Command. Moreover, in Begin's eyes, the ceasefire was not geographically limited to the Lebanese border. He argued that if Palestinian terrorism struck internationally, then this too would be regarded as a breach of the ceasefire. Begin thus took a stand-off in a local battle as applying to the entire war anywhere in the Middle East or any incident internationally. Eitan commented that there was no difference if a terrorist threw a grenade in Gaza or fired a shell at a Northern settlement — all such acts broke the ceasefire. Sharon similarly did not wish to draw distinctions between different Palestinian factions, since all blame had to be attached to the PLO. He dismissed attempts at more rational evaluation as masking the real issue. In a speech to a Young Herut conference in April 1982, he accused those who tried to take a more objective standpoint of erecting 'a protective wall around the PLO inside and outside Israel'.[48]

Further support comes from George Ball, that the PLO had observed the ceasefire.[49] Israel, he said, continued looking for the "internationally recognized provocation" that Secretary of State Alexander Haig said would be necessary to obtain American support for an Israeli invasion of Lebanon.[50] Secretary Haig's critics have accused him of "greenlighting" the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon in June 1982.[51] Haig denies this and says he urged restraint.[52] In the biography of ceasefire broker Philip Habib, Alexander Haig is cited as leaving the worst impression of all in the lead up to Israel's Lebanon invasion:

Haig thus comes off very badly: not a team player, not able to keep the rest of the administration informed of what was going on beforehand, not willing to tell anyone in the White House why Sharon was so confident during the invasion, hoping that Reagan's special envoy would fail in his mission, and having little sense of what the national security of the United States required—which was not a confrontation between Israeli and Soviet tanks on the road from Beirut to Damascus.[53]

The American reaction was that they would not apply any undue pressure on Israel to quit Lebanon as the Israeli presence in Lebanon may prove to be a catalyst for the disparate groups of Lebanon to make common cause against both Syrian and Israeli forces. Haig's analysis, which Ronald Reagan agreed with, was that this uniting of Lebanese groups would allow President Elias Sarkis to reform the Lebanese central Government and give the Palestinian refugees Lebanese citizenship.[54] Additional evidence that the United States approved the Israeli invasion comes from longtime CIA analyst Charles Cogan, who says that he was in the room during a May 1982 meeting in The Pentagon during which Sharon explained to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger "in great detail how the Israelis were going to invade Lebanon ... Weinberger just sat there and said nothing."[55]

According to Avi Shlaim, the real driving force behind the Israeli invasion to Lebanon was the defense minister Ariel Sharon. One of his aims was the destruction of PLO military infrastructure in Lebanon and undermining it as a political organization, in order to facilitate the absorption of the West Bank by Israel. The second aim was the establishment of the Maronite government in Lebanon, headed by Bashir Gemayel and signing the peace treaty between two countries, the third aim was the expelling of the Syrian Army from Lebanon. Also, according to Shlaim, with the completion of Israeli withdrawals from Sinai in March 1982, under the terms of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, the Likud-led government of Israel hardened its attitude to the Arab world and became more aggressive.[56]

According to Zeev Maoz in Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel's National Security and Foreign Policy the goals of the war were primarily developed by then Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon and were fourfold: 1) "Destroy the PLO infrastructure in Lebanon, including the PLO headquarters in Beirut." 2) "Drive Syrian forces out of Lebanon." 3) "Install a Christian-dominated government in Lebanon, with Bashir Gemayel as President." 4) "Sign a peace treaty with the Lebanese government that would solidify the informal Israeli-Christian alliance and convert it into a binding agreement."[57] George Ball testified before the U.S: Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee that Sharon's long-term strategy, as revealed in conversations, was one of "squeezing the Palestinians out of the West Bank . .allowing only enough of them to remain for work."[58]

The military plan with the code name "Big Pines", prepared by IDF, envisaged invasion to Lebanon up to the highway Damascus-Beirut and linking with Maronite forces. It was first presented to Israeli cabinet on 20 December 1981 by Begin, but rejected by the majority of ministers. According to Avi Shlaim, Sharon and chief of staff Rafael Eitan, realizing that there was no chance in persuading the cabinet to approve a large-scale operation in Lebanon, adopted a different tactic and intended to implement "Operation Big Pines" in stages by manipulating enemy provocations and Israeli responses.[59]

On 3 June 1982 Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov was shot and seriously wounded in London by terrorists belonging to the Iraqi-backed Abu Nidal terrorist organization. The attack was ordered by the Iraqi Intelligence Service.[60][61][62] Following the attack, the assassins drove to the Iraqi embassy in London, where they deposited the weapon.[63] In his memoirs, Sharon stated that the attack was "merely the spark that lit the fuse".[64] Israeli prime Minister Begin used this as the "internationally recognized provocation" necessary to invade Lebanon. The fact that the Abu Nidal organization was the longtime rival of PLO, that its head was condemned to death by the PLO court, and that the British police reported that PLO leaders were on the "hit list" of the attackers did not deter Begin. Iraq's motives for the assassination attempt may have been to punish Israel for its destruction of Iraq's nuclear reactor in June 1981, and to provoke a war in Lebanon that Iraqi leaders calculated would be detrimental to the rival Ba'ath regime in Syria—whether Syria intervened to help the PLO or not![65]

At the Israeli Cabinet meeting the following day, both Begin and Eitan belittled intelligence reports that the likely culprit was the Abu Nidal group. Begin cut short his own advisor on terrorism, arguing that all Palestinian terrorists were members of the PLO, while Eitan ridiculed the intelligence staff for splitting hairs and demanded to strike at the PLO. Yet Abu Nidal had broken with Arafat and PLO in 1974 over a fundamental principle: namely, that the Palestinian national movement would adopt a phased piecemeal approach to secure a Palestinian state and embark on a political path. The lack of understanding of the difference between Palestinian groups and the total ignorance of Palestinian politics on the part an overwhelming majority of Israelis and Jews played into the hands of those who did not wish to distinguish between the PLO and the Abu Nidal group. Thus, instead of an initiative to locate the Abu Nidal group in Damascus or Baghdad, the plan to invade Lebanon was activated.[48]:119–120

The PLO denied complicity in the attack, but Israel retaliated with punishing air and artillery strikes against Palestinian targets in Lebanon, including the PLO camps. Sabra and the Shatila refugee camp were bombed for four hours and the local "Gaza" hospital was hit there. About 200 people were killed during these attacks.[66] The PLO hit back firing rockets at northern Israel causing considerable damage and some loss of life.[citation needed] According to another source, twenty villages were targeted in Galilee and 3 Israelis were wounded.[67]

According to Shlaim, Yasser Arafat, at that time being in Saudi Arabia, told the Americans through the Saudis that he was willing to suspend cross-border shelling. But that message was disregarded by the Israeli government. President Reagan also sent a message to Begin urging him not to widen the attack.[67]

On 4 June the Israeli cabinet authorized a large scale invasion.[68][69] Begin referred to the operation as self-defense to "avoid another Treblinka".[70]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Libanonkrieg 1982
العربية: حرب لبنان 1982
български: Мир за Галилея
Bahasa Indonesia: Perang Lebanon 1982
Bahasa Melayu: Perang Lubnan 1982
Simple English: 1982 Lebanon War
slovenčina: Libanonská vojna
српски / srpski: Либански рат (1982)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Libanonski rat 1982.