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ISR Issue 50, November–December 2006

The 1982 invasion of Lebanon

I was not even six when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, too young to be conscious of war and politics. My only memory of the war is the day that my uncle, then thirty-one, serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), died-my mother wailing in agony, the shattered expressions on my grandparents' faces. I would sit with my grandparents for hours in the living room, gently stroking their arms, attempting to ease their pain. For the conquering army, death and suffering is an unavoidable consequence of resistance to occupation. In this case, the six hundred or so IDF deaths, led to a rare development of a peace movement in Israel. But for the conquered, their only crime was to be, by their very existence, in the way of the occupier's ambition.
-The author

[I]t looked as if a tornado had torn through the residential building and apartments, ripping off balconies and roof supports, tearing down massive walls and collapsing whole blocks inwards upon their occupants. Many of the dead were sandwiched inside these ruins. In the streets, where Israeli bulldozers had swept away the rubble with military briskness, the people of Sidon walked in a daze.
-Journalist Robert Fisk describes the scene at Sidon, where many Lebanese and Palestinian refugees had fled to, trying to escape Israeli raids.1

They are all terrorists.
-An army officer when asked why bulldozers were destroying houses in which women and children lived.2


ISRAEL'S INVASION of Lebanon in 1982-codenamed Operation Peace for Galilee-could not have been a more Orwellian, nor a more brutal, chapter of Israeli aggression. Ostensibly, it was an operation meant to rid the Galilee, the region of northern Israel along the border with Lebanon, of the threat of terrorist attacks. Despite the fact that there had been no Palestinian-inflicted Israeli deaths in the Galilee for nearly a year, Peace for Galilee rained destruction on Lebanon. It resulted in thirty to forty thousand Palestinian and Lebanese deaths, with a hundred thousand seriously wounded, and half a million made homeless.3

During the course of Israel's bombardment of the country, civilians and civilian infrastructure were systematically attacked, refugee camps and Lebanese towns were leveled, Beirut was battered for seventy-five days, and after all military objectives were met, the affair concluded with a grotesque massacre of women, children, and the elderly at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

The target of Peace for Galilee was the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), essentially the Palestinian government-in-exile. The organization had been based in Lebanon since 1970 when PLO leader Yasser Arafat had agreed to transfer PLO institutions and militias to Lebanon from Jordan following a crushing military attack on the Palestinians by Jordanian King Hussein's forces. Hussein was threatened by the PLO presence in Jordan, which had wide support among Palestinian refugees (who made up 70 percent of the population) and even some sections of the Jordanian army. Now in Lebanon, the PLO served as a political, military, and social organizer of the more than three hundred thousand Palestinian refugees, mainly living in the southern and western parts of Lebanon, who had been driven off of their land in the 1948 war that created the state of Israel. The large Palestinian and PLO presence was one in a number of factors that was increasingly cleaving Lebanon into two camps.

Lebanon from its inception was an imperialist creation: in 1926 the French had carved it out of Syria, hoping to create a pro-Western enclave with Lebanon's then largest religious group, Maronite Christians, at its head. They created a confessional political system, which was intended to keep the Maronites in power, while also exacerbating divisions between different religious and ethnic groups. Based on a 1932 French census in which Christians were 55 percent of population, the system maintained that the presidency, the highest political office, would always go to a Maronite Christian as would the majority of seats in parliament. No census has been held in Lebanon since then. The changing demographics and growth of the Muslim community, and the neocolonial nature of the electoral system, created tensions which erupted into civil war in 1958 and again 1975-76.

The U.S. Marines landed in Lebanon in 1958 to maintain Maronite control. And a Syrian invasion, with tacit U.S. and Israeli approval, did the same in 1976. By October 1976, there were 30,000 “peace-keeping forces,” largely Syrian, in Lebanon. The Syrians first acted to maintain Maronite power over Muslim and Arab nationalist forces-including the PLO-organized into the Lebanese National Movement (LNM). Though the Arab League verbally protested Syrian president Assad's invasion, writes historian Tabitha Petran. “They were in accord both on the need to domesticate the Palestinian resistance movement and on the imperative of avoiding the appearance of complicity in this operation in the eyes of their own peoples.”4

After Syrian forces allied with rightists to defeat the PLO and the LNM, Syria moved against the Maronites as well. The absence of Syrian sponsorship to hold together the coalition of Christian forces paved the way for the growth of one particularly rightist party, the Phalange, within the coalition of Maronite militias.

Israeli intervention during and after this phase of the civil war was significant and staunchly on the side of the right-most elements. During the war it armed and funded the Phalange, a party that was modeled after Nazi youth groups. The Israelis developed a close relationship with its leader, Bashir Gemayel.5 The Phalange attacked Muslim and Palestinian camps and towns with a gruesome vengeance, using Israeli weaponry. Ironically, given the Phalange's roots, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin repeatedly ranted about the need to help the Phalange save Lebanon's Christians from another Holocaust, ostensibly at the hands of PLO or Muslim forces.6

Israel was also increasingly operating directly in southern Lebanon, bombing and shelling refugee campus, bombarding coastal cities via gunboats, and finally with an outright invasion in 1978, which left 2,000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians dead, and created 250,000 refugees.7 From there it also armed, trained, and financed its own proxy army, the Southern Lebanon Army (SLA), commanded by renegade Lebanese major Saad Haddad.

In 1981 the Likud Party, led by Begin, was re-elected in Israel and hard-line politicians were appointed to the government's key cabinet positions. Ariel Sharon was appointed defense minister, Yitzhak Shamir as foreign minister, and Rafael Eitan, IDF chief of staff. Begin's administration was a who's who of Zionist terrorists.

Begin himself was the commander of the pre-state, underground militia Irgun Zvai Leumi, which attacked the village of Deir Yassin in April 1948. The ensuing massacre of 254 men, women, and children caused a panicked flight of Arabs from Palestine-precisely its intent.8 While the Irgun operated outside of the mainstream Zionist Haganah militia, once the state was founded, Begin was absorbed into the center of Israeli politics. He was a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, from 1949 until 1984, with only a fifteen-month respite in 1952, when he was temporarily suspended for inciting a mob to attack the Knesset in protest of German reparations to Israel.9 Yitzhak Shamir was one of the top commanders of Lehi, another underground organization, which carried out assassinations and terrorist activities, first directed at the British Mandate and later against the Palestinian population.

Both Shamir and Begin belonged to the “revisionist,” ultra-right wing of the Zionist movement. Ariel Sharon, on the other hand, began his military and political career as a Labor Zionist, though this did not make his history any less violent than theirs. In 1953, Sharon was given command of Unit 101 of the IDF, which carried out massacres at the El-Bureij refugee camp and the Jordanian village of Qibya, where Sharon's soldiers shot “every man, woman and child they could find.”10 Sharon later wrote of the massacre, “while civilian deaths were a tragedy, the Qibya raid was also a turning point…. [I]t was now clear that Israeli forces were capable of finding and hitting targets far behind enemy lines.… [W]ith Qibya a new sense of confidence began to take hold.”11

The new Likud government ushered in a particularly cocky phase of Israeli aggression. From the start of their administration, the Begin-Sharon-Shamir triumvirate aimed for an invasion of Lebanon with far-reaching military and political goals. From his first day as minister of defense, Ariel Sharon began making preparations for his “big plan”-to destroy the PLO's infrastructure in Lebanon and to further disperse the Palestinian refugees, thereby dealing a crushing blow to its aspirations for national liberation. Israeli historian Avi Shlaim explained, “The destruction of the PLO would break the backbone of Palestinian nationalism and facilitate the absorption of the West Bank into Greater Israel.”12 The destruction of the PLO couldn't come at a better time for the Israelis, as the PLO was gaining diplomatic victories, increasingly recognized internationally as legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people.

Second, he aimed to establish a new political order in Lebanon by helping to bring to power the Christian Phalange. Sharon reasoned that a dependent Phalange in Lebanon would soon strike a peace deal with Israel, freeing Israel up to deal with fewer enemies along its border. Third, the IDF in Lebanon could take aim at Syria's presence in Lebanon, if not completely driving them out, at least seriously weakening them. Lastly, Sharon proposed that the dispersed Palestinian population could find its home back in Jordan and convert it into a Palestinian state, thereby ridding Israel of the “Palestinian problem” once and for all.

A recently signed peace treaty with Egypt left the southern border sufficiently secured, and enabled Israel to concentrate on its Occupied Territories and northern border.13 All Sharon and company needed was an alibi. Unfortunately, the PLO was not cooperating and had, despite continuous Israeli provocations,14 maintained its end of a cease-fire for nearly a year. Despite no Palestinian breaches of the cease-fire, and numerous Israeli ones, Sharon insisted, “If the terrorists continue to violate the cease-fire, we will have no choice but to wipe them out completely in Lebanon, destroy the PLO's infrastructure there…[and] we will eradicate the PLO in Lebanon.”15 In the end the “provocation” they were looking for was an attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to Britain. The attempt was carried out on June 3, 1982, by an anti-PLO organization called the Palestine National Liberation Movement. Its leader, Abu Nidal, had been condemned to death by the PLO. No matter. “They're all PLO” scoffed Begin.16

In fact, IDF plans had already been in the works. Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan prepared plans for an invasion, initially codenamed Operation Little Pines, to uproot the PLO from Southern Lebanon, and Operation Big Pines, to hit Beirut and the PLO command centers throughout Lebanon. Operation Big Pines was first brought before the Israeli cabinet on December 20, 1981, well before any PLO or non-PLO “provocation.”17 Five days earlier, in a speech to the Center for Strategic Studies, Sharon had outlined broad ambitions for Israel's “defense” strategies against Arab confrontation and Soviet expansion, which included heavily populated settlements in the Occupied Territories and massive military strength and “resolve” to put it to use against Israel's enemies.18

But Israel's ambitions in Lebanon were not new. Control over southern Lebanon had long been seen by Israeli leaders of both Labor and Likud parties as a strategic necessity. In May 1948, in the midst of Israel's “war for independence,” Zionist leader, and its first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, presented the following aims to his general staff:

We should prepare to go over to the offensive with the aim of smashing Lebanon, Transjordan, and Syria.…The weak point in the Arab coalition is Lebanon [for] the Moslem regime is artificial and easy to undermine. A Christian state should be established, with its southern border on the Litani River [within Lebanon]. We will make an alliance with it. When we smash the [Arab] Legion's strength and bomb Amman, we will eliminate Transjordan too, and then Syria will fall. If Egypt still dares to fight on, we shall bomb Port Said, Alexandria, and Cairo.19

Strategies for implementing this goal included that of former Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan: “All that is needed is to find a [Christian Lebanese] officer, even a captain. We should win his heart or buy him, to get him to agree to declare himself the savior of the Maronite population. Then the Israeli army would enter Lebanon, occupy the necessary territory and set up a Christian regime allied to Israel. The territory from the Litani southward will be totally annexed to Israel.”20 At the time dismissed as a fantasy, by the late seventies, following Lebanon's civil war, it seemed Lebanon would never be more “ripe” for such a plan.

On June 4, Begin ordered “retaliatory” strikes on “PLO positions.” These positions included the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila and a local hospital in which more than 200 people were killed. Compare this initial “retaliation” with the total number of Israelis-106-killed by the PLO in cross-border actions over a period of fifteen years.21 But the nightmare had barely begun. On June 6, Israeli tanks rolled into Lebanon. The invasion involved 80,000 troops, 1,240 tanks, and 1,520 armored personnel carriers.22 They quickly pushed beyond the seven or eight thousand PLO troops, and past the forty-kilometer limit at which PLO artillery could reach Israel. By day three, the IDF attacked Syrian positions. By June 11, they controlled the Beirut-Damascus highway, and Beirut was in sight.

The main victims of the advance were Palestinian refugees, though IDF tanks trampled over many Shiite Lebanese villages along the way. By the sixth day of the invasion there were, according to the head of the American Red Cross, already 10,000 mainly Palestinian and Shiite deaths, and 100,000 made homeless.23 The first target of the invasion was the Palestinian camp of Rashidiyeh, which had been left as a “field of rubble.” All teenage and adult males were blindfolded, bound, and taken to camps. Israeli journalist, Tom Segev, touring Lebanon in mid-June reported, “refugees wandering amidst swarms of flies, dressed in rags, their faces expressing terror and their eyes, bewilderment…a terrible smell” of decomposing bodies, he reported, “filled the air.”24

Israeli forces used immense firepower from land, sea, and air, to blast away everything before it, to “shock and awe” the population before IDF soldiers were sent in to “clean it out.” Israeli officials claimed their invasion and “precision bombings” were as clean and restrained as possible. It has been a common currency of Israeli propaganda to claim that they care for human life, while Arab “terrorists” have no regard for it. Yet, the Israeli Air Force systematically targeted civilian infrastructure.25 It bombed hospital after hospital, each clearly marked with red crosses. Among the hospitals attacked: a hospital in Aley was bombed; an Armenian sanitarium south of Beirut was littered with cluster bomb shells; Gaza and Acre hospitals in Beirut were shelled by Israeli gunners; the Islamic Home for Invalids, where “the corridors were streaked with blood,” was shelled repeatedly; the Beirut mental hospital was hit by artillery and naval gunfire, including four phosphorous shells; the Home for Orphans in Beirut was destroyed by cluster bombs, and on and on.26

David Shipler, reporting for the New York Times, described the scene at one hospital under siege:

There was a stench of filth and rotting flesh in the hospital of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, an organization that has both Palestinians and Europeans on its staff. Dr. Francis Capet of Belgium worked franticly and alone, the only doctor left to care for 58 patients, some badly wounded. The other physicians, he said, had been arrested by the Israeli Army; they included a Canadian and a Norwegian as well as Palestinians.

Exhausted, Dr. Capet fumbled as he tried to put an intravenous tube into the arm of a man who had lost both legs. He was Jihad Rashid Manna, 44 years old, who had lived in a village near the Israeli town of Acre when he was a boy and had fled with his family during the fighting in Israel's 1948 war of independence. Now he was lying amid soiled bedclothes, soothed as much as morphine can soothe...

Asked why, the Israeli military governor, Maj. Arnon Mozer, who runs a construction company in civilian life, explained: “We are closing this hospital. All the doctors are P.L.O. It's obvious it's not a good hospital.”27

Palestinian prisoners of war were taken to camps where, according to Lieut. Col. Dov Yirmiah (later dismissed for making public statements criticizing prisoner ill-treatment) “the attitude towards the noncombatant Palestinian population recalls the attitude towards cockroaches that swarm the ground.” Yirmiah reported savage, endless beatings, attacks by dogs on leashes, use of air rifles with bullets that cause pain but do not kill. “This gets all the secrets out of those under interrogation,” Yirmiah was told by an IDF soldier.28 These torture lessons would later be learned and exercised all too well by American occupiers of Iraq.

By June 13, the ring around Beirut was closed, about 15,000 PLO and Lebanese fighters were trapped within, the Syrian units in Beirut were isolated, and Sharon's force had linked up with the Christian Phalangists. In the seventy-five days of heavy fighting that followed, West Beirut was pummeled with bombs and mortar rounds, deprived of food, medicines, and electricity as Israel tightened its noose. “Shelling came from the south, from the hills, and from the sea. Night after night, the skyline explodes in flashes of orange and yellow accented by ascending spirals of white smoke from exploding munitions…hysterical people piled into basements they knew could become tombs if the building above were hit…Nowhere was there shelter from the Israeli-imposed horror.”29

By early August the PLO had conceded defeat, though it should be noted that Israel consistently avoided direct military confrontation and preferred to attack refugee camps and bomb from a distance. Under an agreement brokered by the U.S. through King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and Arafat, a multinational force was to secure a safe passage for the 8,300 PLO fighters out of Beirut to Tunisia. Syrian troops would also withdraw, Israel would not be allowed into Beirut, and the multinational force would guarantee the safety of Palestinian civilians left behind. This included many of the wives and children of PLO fighters.

PLO defeat did not, however, stop the mounting ferocity of Israel's attack on west Beirut. On August 12, “Black Thursday,” Israeli forces ordered saturation bombing on the scale of the Second World War attack on Dresden. This went uninterrupted for eleven hours and “when the shelling finally stopped, the Israelis were back at their roadblocks, stopping food supplies from entering the western section of the city.”30 That day alone resulted in 300 deaths. Charles Powers, an eyewitness to the events commented, “All of West Beirut, finally, was living in wreckage and garbage and loss. But the PLO was leaving. Somewhere the taste of victory must have been sweet.”31

Having defeated the PLO and pushed Syria out of Beirut, Israeli officials set to work in creating favorable results for the (conveniently timed) election that was to take place on August 23. Muslim and rival Maronite delegates boycotted the elections, rightly pointing out that it was to take place under the watch of Israeli guns. Nevertheless, the elections went on as planned. The Israelis had a list of deputies and “did what they could to assist [Bashir] Gemayel's supporters and to impede his opponents from arriving at Beirut to cast their votes.”32 Meanwhile delegates in Israeli controlled areas were produced for the election with instructions on how to vote. Others delegates were bought off by Bashir Gemayel's forces.33

The PLO evacuation began on August 21 and took a couple of weeks to complete. But the war's most gruesome episode was yet to come. On September 14, Bashir was assassinated. The Israelis took the opportunity to enter Beirut under the pretext of preventing bloodshed that might result from Bashir's assassination. But Sharon had his sights set on the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, which he claimed were harboring 2,000 to 3,000 “terrorists.” He and Eitan met with Phalange leaders on September 15 to discuss a plan whereby Israeli forces would surround the camps, while Phalangists would go in to root out the “terrorists.” Using Israeli equipment and under a sky lit up with flares shot by the IDF, the Phalangists, bloodthirsty for revenge over their assassinated leader, killed every man, woman, and child they could find. IDF forces surrounded the camps and ran “interrogation” operations in its stadium amid the stench of dead bodies, which saturated the air about them.

About 3,000 Palestinian civilians-defenseless after the exit of PLO fighters-were butchered in three days. At the massacre's end “lamenting relatives and Red Cross workers…covered their faces against the odor of death as they unearthed several hundred corpses and parts of bodies that had been bulldozed into hasty graves.”34 Two Israeli reporters gave the following description:

In addition to the wholesale slaughter of families, the Phalangists indulged in such sadistic horrors as hanging live grenades around their victims' necks. In one particularly vicious act of barbarity, an infant was trampled to death by a man wearing spiked shoes. The entire Phalangist action in Sabra and Shatila seemed to be directed against civilians....

We have had many accounts of women raped, pregnant women, their fetuses cut out afterward, women with hands chopped off, earrings pulled.35

British journalist, Robert Fisk, was on the ground at the Shatila camp while the massacre had not yet ended. His account, written up in Pity the Nation, is worth reading in full if only to grasp the scale of the barbarity.37 Walking the streets of Shatila with two other reporters, occasionally “losing sight of each other behind piles of corpses,” through a town littered with the dead, the raped, and the mutilated, at every corner. “They were everywhere,” wrote Fisk:

[I]n the road, in laneways, in back yards and broken rooms, beneath crumpled masonry and across the top of garbage tips.… When we had seen a hundred bodies, we stopped counting. Down every alleyway, there were corpses-women, young men, babies and grandparents-lying together in lazy and terrible profusion where they had been knifed or machine-gunned to death.… There were women lying in houses with their skirts torn up to their waists and their legs wide apart, children with their throats cut, rows of young men shot in the back after being lined up at an execution wall. There were babies-blackened babies because they had been slaughtered more than 24 hours earlier and their small bodies were already in a state of decomposition-tossed into rubbish heaps alongside discarded U.S. army ration tins, Israeli army medical equipment and empty bottles of whisky.

Israeli authorities admitted that they had known about the killings for at least twenty-four hours without calling a halt. Massive public pressure from within and outside of Israel forced Begin to appoint a Commission of Inquiry, headed by Chief Justice Yitzhak Kahan. In February 1983, the commission issued a set of predictably whitewashed findings, but nevertheless found Sharon “indirectly responsible” for the massacre and urged his resignation. Sharon did indeed resign his Defense Ministry post, though he stayed on as a “minister without portfolio.” And while many predicted that Sabra and Shatila would mark the end of his political career, Sharon was elected prime minister in 2001, where he stayed on, enjoying high popularity, until his debilitating stroke earlier this year.

The U.S. government, also under fire for having left Beirut before Palestinian safety could be secured, took the opportunity to return 1,000 marines to Beirut. Along with French and Italian soldiers, they were to help the new Lebanese government, now headed by Bashir's brother, Amin Gemayel, to maintain order. Indeed, the multinational force “maintained order.” When Amin's Lebanon army came under attack by Muslim and Druze forces in Souq al Gharb, U.S. Marines fired six hundred rounds of seventy-pound shells into Druze, Sunni, and Shiite villages, while the French completed an aerial mop-up operation, to save Gemayel's forces.37

The United States support for the ultra-Right Maronite force was in line with their support for Israeli and Israeli-allied forces all along. Equally invested as Israel in creating a pro-Western (or at the very least, anti-Arab nationalist and anti-Soviet) enclave in the Middle East, the U.S. government consistently gave support for Israel's venture. At times publicly squeamish over the extent of civilian casualties, the United States under both Carter and Reagan vetoed UN Security Council resolutions calling for Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. Before the invasion began, Ariel Sharon met with then Secretary of State Alexander Haig, widely believed to have given Sharon the green light for action. “The Americans-” concluded Ze'ev Schiff, Israel's most respected military analyst, “having received advance information about Israeli intentions-chose to look the other way, making ambiguous comments about Lebanon that the Israeli government could interpret any way it liked.”38

Israel's victory in Lebanon was as unequivocal as it was brutal. The Palestinian political and military leadership was pushed to the outskirts of the Arab world, far from its homeland in Palestine or the current borders of Israel. The PLO no doubt suffered a massive defeat, leading it further down the road of political retreat from the initial demand to return to all of historic Palestine to the Palestinians. Israeli forces maintained their occupation of southern Lebanon in a self-proclaimed “security zone” stretching forty-five kilometers north of the border. But their victory also created some important contradictions.

A civil war of varying degrees of intensity continued until 1990. A weak Lebanese government, governing over a battered and divided population allowed for even more Syrian control over Beirut than before. While the new Lebanese government signed an agreement with Israel to end the war in May of 1983, by March of the following year Amin Gemayel was summoned to Damascus to abrogate the decision. At this point, “Israel's policy shifted…from reliance on the Lebanese government and army to seeking security arrangements in southern Lebanon in collaboration with its Christian proxies there.”39

Perhaps more importantly, having weakened Palestinian resistance in Lebanon, it created at the same time an indigenous Lebanese resistance. Out of the ashes of the destruction in the south of Lebanon emerged a Shiite resistance, proving yet again that occupation always breeds resistance. The Shiites, living largely in the country's south, constituted both the largest religious group and the least economically or politically empowered by the early 1980s. They also suffered more than any other Lebanese group at the hands of the Israeli occupation. Eighty percent of Shiite villages in southern Lebanon were damaged, seven of them almost completely destroyed, by the Israeli invasion. The Shiites also suffered 19,000 deaths (including a quarter of those slain in Sabra and Shatila) and 32,000 casualties.40 By 1985, various Shiite militias resisting Israeli occupation in the south consolidated to form Hezbollah. They received backing from the Iranian Islamic regime, the Syrian government, and they also affiliated with various Arab nationalist parties.

Hezbollah would eventually drive the IDF out of southern Lebanon in 2000 where they had maintained their occupation since the invasion, a feat that raised Hezbollah's stature in Lebanon, even among non-Shiite sections of the population. And they again became heroes to millions when they stood up to Israel's most recent invasion in 2006-this one unequivocally backed by the U.S. as part of its plan to destroy Hezbollah, corner Syria, and set the stage for going after Iran.

Though Israel inflicted massive damage, engaging in the kind of large-scale civilian bombing that it carried out in 1982, it was also more hesitant to commit large numbers of ground troops. This time, a well-entrenched and armed Hezbollah forced Israel into a retreat without having achieved any of its major goals. Hezbollah succeeded where all the Arab regimes have continually failed. This has provoked an internal crisis in Israel and has unsettled the Arab regimes. But we should not assume that this is the end of the story. Efforts by the U.S., through its Israeli proxy, to advance its power in the region have been temporarily set back in Lebanon. But they cannot accept defeat. It will take a much more widespread resistance in the region-and worldwide-to bury those efforts.

Hadas Thier is an Israeli-American who is a frequent contributor to the ISR.

1 Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon (New York, NY: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002), 244.

2 Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1999), 217.

3 Baylis Thomas, How Israel Was Won: A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Boston, MA: Lexington Books, 1999).

4 Tabitha Petran, The Struggle Over Lebanon (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1987), 203.

5 Although Ariel Sharon was primarily responsible for the increasingly close ties to Gemayel, this strategy was initiated by the previous Labor administration of Yitzhak Rabin, which donated $150 million worth of military hardware to both the Phalange and another rival Christian militia. See Howard Sachar, A History of Israel From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000), 900.

6 In one letter to U.S. president Ronald Reagan, Begin explained: “In a war whose purpose is to annihilate the leader of the terrorists in West Beirut, I feel as though I have sent an army to Berlin to wipe out Hitler in the bunker.” Sandra Mackey, Lebanon: A House Divided (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006), 177-78.

7 Mackey, 173. Chomsky, 192.

8 Incidentally, the Irgun also bombed the British mandate government offices in 1946, killing ninety-one British, Arab, and Jewish staff. The British had a 10,000-pound reward offered for Begin's arrest.

9 Dilip Hiro, The Essential Middle East: A Comprehensive Guide (New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003), 86-87.

10 James Ron, “Is Sharon a war criminal?” Chicago Tribune, February 8, 2001.

11 Ariel Sharon, Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon (New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1989), 88. For more on Sharon, see Hadas Thier, “Ariel Sharon: War criminal,” ISR 17, April-May 2001.

12 Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (New York, NY: WW Norton & Company, 2001), 396

13 “[B]ehind the Lebanon victory lie the peace accords with Egypt,” commented former military intelligence chief, Shlomo Gazit. For more discussion, see Chomsky, Fateful Triangle, 200, or David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East (New York, NY: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2003), 530-31.

14 These included 2,125 violations of Lebanese airspace and 652 violations of Lebanese territorial waters between August 1981 and May 1982 and an April 21 aerial bombardment of PLO centers, which killed twenty-three and injured many more. See Chomsky, 195.

15 Quoted in Shlaim, 401.

16 Thomas, 222. Similarly, Rafael Eytan exclaimed: “Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal. We have to strike at the PLO!” Shlaim, 404.

17 Shlaim, 396-97.

18 “Ariel Sharon Speech to the Center for Strategic Studies,” Tel Aviv University, December 15, 1981, in Walter Laquer and Barry Rubin (eds.), The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1995), 421.

19 David Ben-Gurion quoted in Chomsky , 162-63.

20 Hirst, 530.

21 Chomsky, 197.

22 Thomas, 224.

23 Ibid.

24 Tom Segev, quoted in Chomsky, 220.

25 It has always been Israeli strategy to purposefully target civilians. As a Labor Party ex-chief of staff, Mordechai Gur explained, “For 30 years, from the war of independence to this day, we have been fighting against a population that lives in villages and towns.” Quoted in Chomsky, 220.

26 Chomsky, 224-28.

27 David Shipler, “In Lebanon, white lags fly amid the misery and rubble,” New York Times, June 15, 1982.

28 Chomsky, 237-40.

29 Mackey, 178-79.

30 Ibid.

31 Ibid., 182.

32 Shlaim, 413.

33 Mackey, 182.

34 David Shipler, “The massacre brings on a crisis of faith for Israelis; mourning, anger, and moral outrage,” New York Times, September 26, 1982.

35 Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari, Ina Friedman (ed. and trans.), Israel's Lebanon War (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), 118-19.

36 Fisk, 359-400.

37 Mackey, 189-90.

38 Ze'ev Schiff, “The green light,” Foreign Policy, Spring 1983, 73.

39 Shlaim, 417-21.

40 Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Hizbu'llah: Politics & Religion (London: Pluto Press, 2002).

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