The plo Threat to Israel Emerging from Lebanon
Following the *Six-Day War, the Palestinian terrorists expanded their base of action against the State of Israel from within Lebanese territory. This action received support in the Cairo Agreement of 1969.
After their expulsion from Jordan (in September 1970) the terrorist organizations reestablished their organizational and operational center in Lebanon. From that time, the plo developed and increased in Lebanon and the number of its fighting men, by June 1982, had reached approximately 25,000. Its own position in Lebanon became stronger, and its power in the international arena grew. plo self-assertion accompanied the decline of Lebanon as a country, to the extent that a center for international terrorism was established in southern Lebanon. Syria, whose army had invaded Lebanon in June 1976, took advantage of the civil war there and achieved the position of the legitimate inter-Arab deterrent presence, which dictated events in the country. Syria strengthened the plo as a force which would perpetuate the schism between the various ethnic groups within the country, and would weaken the Lebanese government, thereby enhancing its dependence upon Syria.
From the beginning of 1981, Israel-Syria relations began to take a significant turn for the worse. The Syrians regarded the Christian domination of Zahle as a threat to their freedom of movement on the Beirut-Damascus highway, and decided to conquer Zahle from the Christians. In keeping with Israel's promises to the Christians, the Israeli Air Force intervened on their behalf and shot down two Syrian helicopters at the end of April 1981. Syria responded by stationing surface-to-air missiles in Lebanon to defend its units from Israeli air strikes. The penetration of sam's into Lebanon heightened the tension between Syria and Israel. The plo took advantage of this situation, and increased its activities against Israel. Israel's attacks on the plo gave leverage to the latter in achieving political support from the Arab states, Western European countries, and the Soviet Union. The plo portrayed its basic security needs as critical and as requiring immediate remedy in light of the hovering Israeli threat. The result of their plea was that the Soviet Union transferred – by way of Syria, Libya, and East Germany – huge quantities of light and heavy weaponry, including tanks, cannons, anti-tank missiles, and anti-aircraft missiles. In addition, it trained officers, pilots, and other military professionals. China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia, too, equipped the plo with weapons both from the East and from the West.
Confrontation in the Shadow of the Cease-Fire between Israel, Lebanon, and the plo
In July 1981, a succession of exchanges of artillery fire, lasting for two weeks, in which the Israeli Air Force also participated, took place between the plo and Israel. With pressure from the U.S., and through the mediation of its special envoy to the region – Mr. Philip Habib – a cease-fire was obtained for the first time on July 21, 1981. Immediately following the signing of the cease-fire agreement, a lull was apparent along the Lebanese-Israeli border. This lull enabled the terrorists to organize and to equip themselves with tanks and with dozens of artillery weapons; these were spread out in the area north of the Litani River and threatened the settlements of Galilee. The cease-fire agreement between Lebanon, the plo, and Israel consisted of three clauses:
(1) No acts of enmity will be executed from the Lebanese border against Israeli targets – not by air, nor by sea, nor by land.
(2) No acts of enmity will be executed from the Israeli border against Lebanese targets – not by air, nor by sea, nor by land.
(3) The same applies to hostile military action directed at or coming from the territory of Major Saad Haddad.
The formulation of this agreement was interpreted in three ways. Israel saw it as a plo commitment to cease initiating acts of terror against Israel.
The plo gave the formulation a more literal interpretation. It saw the document as an obligation not to commit acts of terror against Israel solely from the Lebanese border.
The United States interpreted the agreement as an obligation on the part of the plo not to launch terrorist attacks on Israel from within Lebanon, nor from any other international border.
The plo continued to commit terrorist acts against Jews abroad. On August 29, 1981, the synagogue of the Jewish community in Vienna was attacked; two were killed and 20 others wounded. On October 7, 1981, two highly charged explosives went off in Italy, one next to the Ministry of Tourism in Rome, and the other at Ostia, where Jews from the U.S.S.R. were being housed. On October 20, 1981, a car-bomb exploded next to a synagogue in Antwerp, Belgium; three people were killed and approximately 100 others wounded.
Following these actions, Israeli Prime Minister Menaḥem Begin – on November 4, 1981 – accused the terrorists, who were reinforcing their troops in Lebanon with heavy arms, of breaching the cease-fire agreement. The tension grew. In November 1981, in light of the aforementioned incidents, the Israeli ministerial level delineated the following war aims to the Israel Defense Forces (idf): prevention of the shelling of the northern settlements and prevention of hostile terrorist activity; creation of the situation which would bring about Syrian military withdrawal from the Beirut area; and elimination of the political and military problem of the terrorists in Lebanon.
On December 14, 1981, the Knesset passed the Golan Heights Law. As a precautionary measure in the event of a Syrian attack, the idf was mobilized in the north of Israel. In response to the legislation which annexed the Golan Heights to Israel, the President of the United States unilaterally suspended the "strategic memorandum of understanding" on December 17, 1981. The following day, Prime Minister Begin sent a letter to the U.S. president in which he stated that Israel would not attack unless attacked first. In response to the legislation of the Golan Law, and to Syria's request, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko declared on January 18, 1982 that Soviet-Syrian relations were being deepened, and that the U.S.S.R. would provide Syria with the military means with which to enhance its defense capability. On the same day, Syria's Defense Minister announced that the Syrian army would remain in the Lebanon Valley as long as "Zionist aggression" continues.
On January 24, 1982, Syria brought two battalions into the Beirut area. On the night of January 28–29, a group of terrorists infiltrated into Israel from the Jordanian border. Israel expressed its outrage at the gravity of the incident. The plo disclaimed that its infiltration was a breach of the cease-fire agreement.
The idf was in a state of readiness in the northern zone of Israel. In response, the plo intensified the level of alert among its own units, and reinforced its troops in the areas supervised by unifil (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) with hundreds of fighting men. When the assistant to the Secretary-General of the un requested that the plo be removed from the unifil zone, Arafat rejected his request. Then on February 14, Arafat's second-in-command, Abu-Iyad, declared that the plo was committed to the cease-fire and that only in the event of wide-range aggression would the Palestinians force their presence on all of the Arab fronts. Furthermore, on March 4, the plo announced that in the event of an Israeli assault, it would turn to the Soviet Union. On March 15, the plo warned unifil not to widen its control in southern Lebanon. plo self-confidence was on the rise. Throughout this entire period, the Lebanese government remained passive.
Following the aforementioned developments, the unifil command requested to reinforce its troops with 1,000 fighting men. At the end of March, the Security Council decided to grant the unifil request. Syria remained passive. The U.S.S.R., on the other hand, was active in its encounters with the plo to whom it sent heavy arms. The U.S., having an interest in keeping the peace, operated through other channels. Secretary of State Alexander Haig announced that the United States regarded the Soviets' supplying of arms to the plo as obstructing efforts to prevent conflict. Similarly, he appealed to the Palestinians to halt their provocations against Israel. At the same time, the U.S. was attempting to get Saudi Arabia and Jordan to prevail upon the plo to refrain from anti-Israel activity. In the same vein, the U.S. called upon Israel to refrain from retaliation, warning that action against the plo would be liable to drag Syria into the war, and hence the U.S.S.R. as well, thus increasing the possibility of a confrontation between the super-powers.
On February 22, Prime Minister Begin warned that Israel would take immediate revenge if one single Israeli were to be killed in a terrorist attack. In March 1982, Mr. Philip Habib arrived in the Middle East and conducted negotiations with all of the involved parties, on the basis of the Israeli interpretation of the cease-fire agreement. On March 18, the State Department spokesman defined the United States position as one which would regard any hostile activity directed at Israel originating in Lebanon – even if carried out by way of Syria and Jordan – as a breach of the cease-fire agreement. The same would apply to any Israeli action against Lebanon. In reply to the statement given by the American spokesman, Abu-Jihad announced on March 20 that the plo opposed the definition of the agreement provided by the United States, and that it would continue to attack Israel from any place it desired, other than the Lebanese border. On March 30, from Beirut, Arafat declared that the terrorists were looking forward to Ariel Sharon's visit to Beaufort Castle in southern Lebanon, and extended him the standard Arabic greeting "ahalan wasahalan" ("hello and welcome"), using Nasser's words on the eve of the Six-Day War. At the meeting of the Arab Foreign Ministers in Tunis on the following day, the plo representative demanded that the Arab states bordering on Israel enable the terrorists to operate from within their borders.
On March 31, three terrorists attacked the offices of the Arms Acquisition Commission of the Israeli Ministry of Defense in Paris. On April 3, Israeli diplomat Yaacov Bar-Simantov was murdered in front of his home in Paris by Arab terrorists. The next day, Israel proclaimed that the murder was a blatant breach of the cease-fire agreement. The idf was put in a state of readiness, and forces were concentrated in the north. The U.S. denounced the murder of Bar-Simantov. On April 6, Prime Minister Begin met with the leaders of the Israeli Labor Party and at the end of the meeting, declared that Israel could not overlook the murder of its diplomat. The plo announced supreme alert among its forces in southern Lebanon. On April 8, the U.S.S.R. accused Israel and the U.S. of planning to annihilate the plo and of attempting to establish a pro-Israel protectorate over part of Lebanon. On April 10, the United States called on all sides to exercise great restraint, and to put an end to all activities which increase tension and violence in the region. On April 11, a man by the name of Allan Goodman shot at a group of Muslims praying on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, thereby causing an additional rise in the tension. The president of the United States sent Assistant Secretary of State Stoessel to the Middle East, while the Soviet Union dispatched an intelligence vessel to the waters off Israel's northern shores.
On April 13, Prime Minister Begin announced that "the cabinet had not yet reached a decision regarding an invasion into Lebanon," but added, "We will not, however, resign ourselves to the spilling of Jewish blood, nor will we allow those who spill it to go unpunished." In a television interview on the following day, Arafat said that the plo was prepared for any military confrontation with Israel. "Let them come," he said, "we are waiting for them." During the course of the same week, the terrorists on three occasions placed explosive charges on a central route in southern Lebanon. An idf officer was killed and an accompanying soldier was wounded. In retaliation the Israel Air Force bombed a terrorist base in Lebanon, plo naval bases, and a Syrian radar station. In the ensuing air battles between Israel and Syria, two mig 23's were shot down by Israel.
On the same day, the Israeli chief of staff General Raphael Eitan proclaimed that the terrorists had gone too far, and that Israel had reached the limit of its self-restraint. The Americans then turned to Lebanese president Elias Sarkis to prevent the plo from retaliating against the Israeli air strikes. The U.S.S.R., on May 6, broadcast its pledge to act on behalf of Syria in the event of an Israeli invasion of Lebanon. In the middle of April, East Germany agreed to supply the plo with important weapon systems: bmp-1 armored troop vehicles, 130 mm. cannons, recoilless guns, and a patrol boat. On May 7, the terrorists planted two mines near the village of Shuba; the idf accused the unifil Command of having allowed passage to the terrorists. On May 9, the Israeli Air Force attacked three targets in Lebanon: to the south of Damour, to the south of the Zaharani River, and on the outskirts of Sidon. In retaliation, the terrorists fired 100 katyusha missiles from the heights of Nabatiye close to settlements in the north of Israel; the next day they informed Israel that this had been "a warning." As a result of the shooting, a state of readiness was declared in the idf on May 9 and troops were sent to reinforce the Northern Command. The U.S. asked Israel to refrain from aggravating the situation in the north, so as not to cause Syrian intervention, and warned against an uncontainable escalation of the unrest.
On May 10, the Israeli cabinet decided that Israel would not deploy the idf at this stage, but would first exhaust every possible political path. The next day, the plo declared an alert in its bases. On May 12, Syria announced that it would intervene if Lebanon were attacked. Both the Syrian army in Lebanon and the Lebanese army proceeded to intensify their readiness. On May 12 and 13, an additional attempt was made on the part of the U.S., Israel, and Lebanon to convince the plo to refrain from violent action – but to no avail. The plo remained determined to adhere to the cease-fire only from the Lebanese border. The U.S.S.R. sent Soviet and Cuban experts to the plo Command. On May 14, the Israeli Chief of Staff declared that, in fact, the cease-fire was no longer in existence.
From the Cancelation of the Cease-Fire Agreement to the War in Lebanon
On May 15, the American State Department spokesman described the situation as "delicate, but not critical." On May 16, while the Israeli government was continuing its efforts to exhaust political channels, a member of the Supreme Central Committee of the plo proclaimed that the cease-fire was no longer in existence, and that the plo considered itself free to augment its activities everywhere. The Syrians moved their armored and anti-tank forces, and arrayed them for defense in Lebanon. On May 20, Major Haddad's soldiers drove away terrorists who were attempting to plant mines in the area of Marjuyun. The U.S. continued its attempts at lowering the tension. Alexander Haig praised Israel for its restraint, and Assistant Secretary of State Morris Draper was sent to Beirut. On the day of Draper's arrival in Israel, an aerial combat in Lebanese skies erupted between Syrian and Israeli fighter airplanes, during the course of which two Syrian mig's were shot down. The Syrians explained that their entrance into the battle was evidence of their determination to repel Israeli attacks. Two days later the Syrian president went to the Soviet Union to obtain the latter's promise to provide military support.
A truck from Kefar Giladi in northern Israel drove over a mine in southern Lebanon. On the same day, May 31, General Eitan announced that a military solution to the plo problem in Lebanon was available.
From the time when the cease-fire went into effect, the plo committed 248 acts of terror in Israel and abroad, resulting in 26 deaths and 264 wounded. On Sunday, June 3, at approximately 11:00 p.m., the Israel ambassador to Britain, Mr. Shlomo Argov, was shot. At 9:00 a.m. the following morning, the Israeli cabinet decided to deploy its air force for an attack on two targets within Beirut and seven plo targets in southern Lebanon. At 11:45 a.m. the air force executed this mission. In retaliation, the terrorists proceeded, from 5:30 p.m. onward, to shell settlements in Galilee. The Israeli air force and artillery corps were deployed, but the terrorist bombardment continued the next day as well. In response to the renewal of terrorist fire, the air force was again deployed, this time against the forward posts and ammunition centers of the terrorists.
Following these events, the un Security Council unanimously decided to declare a cease-fire to be put into effect on June 6 at 6:00 a.m. The plo announced that it would agree to the cease-fire if Israel did likewise. The U.S. denounced Ambassador Argov's would-be assassins, and emphasized that the incident had provoked Israel to retaliate. The U.S. demanded that the warring parties ease the tension, and that the Israeli prime minister order a cease-fire. But the attempt on the Israeli ambassador's life had been for Israel, however, the "straw that broke the camel's back."
On Saturday night, June 5, 1982, the Israeli cabinet convened and decided to send the idf into Lebanon.
Beginning of the War against the Terrorists, June 6–9
From the night of June 5 through the early morning – until 3:40 a.m. – of June 6, the terrorists continued to fire hundreds of katyusha missiles and artillery on the settlements of Galilee.
At an early hour of the morning, the decision was made to execute phase i of the plan – to cross the international border at 11:00 a.m. and to advance as quickly as possible to the terrorist concentrations in Lebanon, in order to remove the Galilee settlements from terrorist artillery range. In addition to being briefed on the mission, the adjunct operational troops were told that the war was directed solely at the terrorists. In other words, there would be no harming of civilians, un soldiers, or Syrian soldiers. That noon, as planned, idf troops crossed the international border, moving north with maximum speed toward their aim. Meanwhile, the cabinet's decision of the previous night was being published in the media.
details of the operational procedures
Y's formation advanced speedily along the coastal axis without encountering actual resistance. Towards evening, its forward unit arrived at Sarafand – which is north of Tyre and south of the Zaharani River. The refugee camps near the city were dealt with by the troops of the formation. In the afternoon, when it had become clear that the force was advancing quickly north, it was decided to land Brigadier-General Amos Yaron's force to the north of the Awali. A's formation crossed the Litani River over the Akia Bridge, without resistance. At dusk, its troops arrived at Nabatiye. The Beaufort position was attacked at night – in spite of the plan to attack it in daylight. In a difficult and bloody battle which continued until the next morning, the reconnaissance squadron occupied Beaufort Castle. The force led by Mo., which tried to ascend to the Nabatiye Heights by way of the Hardaleh Bridge, encountered mine fields and was delayed until the mines were dismantled. E's formation reached the Hasbaya-Qauqaba line, thus completing its mission. The Syrians began to shell the troops of the formation haphazardly. However, due to the fact that terrorists' posts were integrated within the Syrian disposition, it was impossible to know whether or not the firing was coming from the terrorists, and therefore E's troops did not return the fire.
The navy sent a force northward in order to secure the battle zone and landed it there for possible attack on the Syrian force. At the same time, it landed Brigadier-General Amos Yaron's force to the north of the Awali. The force consisted of armored, infantry, engineering, and artillery units.
The air force enjoyed supremacy over the arena. An attempt by the Syrian air force to attack idf troops was foiled by Israeli pilots. Israeli fighter airplanes attacked terrorist targets during the day, thereby supporting the paralysis of the artillery employed against the Galilee settlements, and disrupting the terrorists' system of control. The troops intended for the Golan Heights arrived at their destination and took up their positions.
The terrorists were surprised by the force with which they were being attacked and by the numerous directions from which the attack was being launched. As a result of Syrian military intervention in the war, the Israeli ministerial level decided on the evening of June 6 to order the idf to reach the Beirut–Damascus highway, while outflanking, but not attacking, the Syrian army in the Bekaa.
At dusk, the president of the U.S. informed the Israeli prime minister that he was sending Philip Habib to Israel, and requested that Mr. Begin receive him for discussion, and the prime minister made arrangements to receive him the following evening.
monday, june 7
On the night of June 6–7, the Israeli forces organized themselves for a continuation of the fighting and for the execution of their aims during the day. Reserve troops continued to be mobilized. The idf Supreme Command assessed that the Syrians faced two alternative courses of action. One would be to take action, as they had on Sunday, in order to fulfill their obligation to the terrorists. The other would be to take more extensive aggressive action. In view of this assessment, it was determined that the forces must make every effort to carry out their intended campaign aims as soon as possible: to join up with the Christians in Beirut, to capture the Dahar al-Bidar defile, and to mop up the "iron triangle" and the coastal axis of terrorist pockets. It was emphasized, however, that the above limitations imposed on the idf operation remained in effect, including that of not engaging in warfare with the Syrian army unless first attacked by it.
That same night of June 6–7 Syria began preparing divisions of tanks and moving one of them together with other troops towards Lebanon. The Israeli defense minister assessed that if confrontation with the Syrian army was indeed to be expected on Monday, then an idf attack on the Syrian sam disposition would be unavoidable on Tuesday, June 8.
At dawn, the Israeli forces continued to fulfill their assignments: Y's formation advanced northward along the coastal axis. At the same time, Israeli troops were acting to occupy the refugee camps on the outskirts of Tyre-Burj-ash-Shmali and al-Bata and to clear them of terrorists. Fighting in these built-up areas was especially dangerous and complicated as the terrorists' positions were located inside buildings occupied by civilians. In order to minimalize civilian casualties, the residents were advised, by means of loudspeakers and pamphlets, to abandon their homes and to gather outside the terrorist-infested areas. These warnings were given until the hour set for the beginning of the attack. In this way, many lives were saved.
On the central axis, A's formation continued to move from the Arnun Heights towards Sidon, with the intention of mopping up the Nabatiye Heights of terrorists. When M.A.'s forward unit arrived at the village of Jabah in the morning, it came upon the edge of a Syrian post. The Syrians opened fire. In retaliation, the soldiers of the Israeli unit assaulted the post, taking six Syrian soldiers prisoner. This was the first encounter between idf and Syrian soldiers. M's formation continued north towards Dahar al-Bidar. At dusk, D's frontal unit reached the outskirts of the town Jezzine.
In the eastern sector, the forces remained in their places. However, due to Syria's military intervention and announcement that it would come to the aid of the terrorists, the level of readiness and alertness among the Israeli units there was stepped up. Brig. Gen. Amos Yaron's force widened its hold, which it prepared to defend, while waiting to join up with Y's or A's troops.
During the course of the day, Israeli Air Force pilots shot down one Syrian fighter airplane. At 11:00 p.m., the last katyusha missile was fired at the Galilee settlements. Israeli Air Force planes continued to support the troops there, and again bombed the terrorist headquarters to the south of Beirut.
tuesday, june 8
The U.S. and Israel took steps to prevent Syrian warfare on the idf. It had already been possible, on the previous evening, to infer from the statements of the American secretary of state that the U.S. supported a new international arrangement in Lebanon. Following his meeting with Philip Habib, the Israeli prime minister called upon Syria, from the floor of the Knesset on June 8, not to attack idf troops, so as not to be dragged into the war. In addition, Philip Habib went to Damascus to convince the Syrian president not to attack idf troops, and to reach a mutual arrangement, based on Israel's proposal, according to which Syria would move the terrorist troops scattered among its battle dispositions 25 km. (15.6 miles) to the north, as well as evacuate its own troops which had entered Lebanon since the beginning of the war. From the information received during the course of the night concerning changes in the deployment of Syrian military units, it was impossible to interpret Syria's intentions. An armored division which was moving in the direction of Lebanon had not yet crossed the border. Tank brigade 58 was arrayed to the south of Lake Karaoun.
As Tuesday approached, the forces of Brigadier-General Yaron and of A were assigned the task of continuing to move towards Beirut in order to join up with the Christians. M's mission was to reach the Beirut–Damascus Highway. Y was to continue to mop up the area around Tyre, the "Iron Triangle," and the Nabatiye Heights. At dawn, connection was established between Brigadier-General Yaron's forces and A's forces, which had completed the encirclement of Sidon, and proceeded to plan its conquest. One of its units reinforced Brigadier-General Yaron's troops, which, by dusk, had reached a point of a number of miles south of Damour.
Upon discerning the movements of idf troops, the Syrians understood the potential danger awaiting their troops in the Bekaa, in Beirut, and along the Beirut–Damascus axis. In order to halt the idf advances, the Syrians reinforced their dispositions, including the addition of the 91st tank brigade, which completed the battle array of Division 1 in the Bekaa.
In the morning, the Syrian army in the Bekaa opened fire with artillery and anti-tank missiles on E's forces. The Syrian force in Jezinne opened fire on M's forces. In the afternoon, Syrian fighter airplanes attacked the idf troops near Sidon, and also bombed the area of Ein Abel and Marjuyun.
In the ensuing aerial battles, seven Syrian fighter airplanes were shot down. Following Syria's launching of its attack, the Israeli ministerial level decided to approve the proposal to occupy Jezinne. This town, which was protected by Syrian commands and tank forces, was occupied that afternoon by a tank unit led by H.
At dusk, D's unit encountered Syrian troops in the village of Ein Zhaltah, and its advance was halted. It was realized retrospectively that the Syrian force had deployed in the village only a few hours before the arrival of the Israeli troops there. In light of the above development, and in view of the Israeli assessment that Syria was going to reinforce its troops in the Bekaa with armored forces and sam batteries, the Israeli Supreme Command decided to prepare for the possibility of launching an attack on the Syrian army from Wednesday morning, June 9.
The commander of the Israeli Air Force, Major-General David Ivri, was told to be prepared to destroy the Syrian sam array in Lebanon, in order to enable him to support idf land forces in the Bekaa and along the central axis.
Major-General Ben-Gal's forces, which were joined by G's formation, were in readiness for the possibility of an attack on the Syrian disposition, with the aim of removing its troops and the terrorists from the Bekaa.
wednesday, june 9
On the night of June 8–9, D's unit continued its attempts to break through the Syrian force in the Ein Zhaltah village, in order to advance northward – but to no avail. The Jezinne-Ayshiyeh area was cleared of Syrian fighting men, many of whom fled at dawn to reach their dispositions in the Bekaa. On the coastal axis, Brigadier-General Yaron's forces had reached a point about 4 kms. (2.4 miles) south of Beirut's international airport (Khalde). Y's unit continued to mop up in Tyre, and in the afternoon began its occupation of the Ein Hilweh refugee camp.
In the morning, Syrian fighter airplanes began attacking idf troops. Division 1 completed its preparation for defensive deployment, and the sam array was augmented. idf troops in the eastern sector discerned the changes taking place within the Syrian disposition. The Israeli air force and land troops were readied for attack on the Syrians. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Israel were continuing their efforts to prevent a confrontation between the two armies. In Damascus, Philip Habib awaited a meeting with the Syrian president in order to convince him to accept the arrangement proposed by Israel.
Warfare between the Syrian Army in Lebanon and the idf: From Noon June 9 until the First Cease-Fire, June 11
Israel waited until noon for an answer from the Syrian president regarding the proposal of the Israeli government. The Syrians were, in the meanwhile, strengthening their land dispositions. As no answer was received from Damascus, the Israeli ministerial level decided to attack the Syrian ground missiles which were deployed in Lebanon. At 2:00 p.m., Israeli Air Force fighter airplanes began their attack in which 17 batteries of sa6, sa2, and sa3 missiles were destroyed, and two damaged. The Syrians then sent some of their fighter planes to intercept those of the Israelis. In the ensuing aerial combat, which continued throughout the day, 28 Syrian planes were shot down, without loss to the Israeli Air Force. The Syrians also dispatched attack helicopters to hit the Israeli armored convoy. At the same time, Major-General Ben-Gal's troops began to attack the Syrian deployment. E's troops in the eastern sector, G's troops in the center, and D's troops in the west, all raced northward on every possible axis. A unit led by E.O. was sent along the ridge axis in order to penetrate eastward from the Barukh Mountain to the Bekaa, with the object of attacking the Syrian armored force from the flank.
In the afternoon, the fighting with the Syrian units to the south of Lake Karaoun began. Due to the destruction of their anti-tank defense and the complete exposure of their land troops to Israeli Air Force and armored corps attacks, the Syrians decided to withdraw their troops, while conducting delaying actions. Nevertheless, they began to mobilize reserve troops, and continued to move in additional forces in order to prevent the idf from taking control of Beirut and of the Beirut–Damascus Highway. In the central sector, idf troops had not succeeded in advancing, while in the coastal sector, Brigadier-General Yaron's forces reached the town of Damour.
thursday, june 10
The results of the idf attack on the Syrian army aroused the U.S.S.R. to respond immediately by dispatching an air-lift to Syria, which included at least two Antonov 22 planes a day, and to demand of the U.S. that it exercise its influence on Israel to halt its attack. Following Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev's appeal the president of the United States turned to Israel's prime minister on the night of June 9–10, and requested an immediate cessation of fire. The Israeli government complied in principle with the request of the American president, and decided that firing would cease as of Friday, June 11 at 12:00 noon. This decision was conditional upon the evacuation of the terrorists north to the line 40 km. (25 miles) from the Israeli border, and upon Syrian commitment not to infiltrate Lebanon with additional forces. During the time remaining, Major-General Ben-Gal's forces achieved their aims: the troops led by E.G. and Y – who that day had replaced D – succeeded, in frontal attack, to drive the Syrian forces as far back as the latitudinal line of Hab-Hanin/Kamad al-Luz, about 10 km. (6.25 miles) north of Lake Karaoun. Y's troops arrived in the north from the village of Amik. E's unit caused many losses to the Syrian armored corps, while E's troops advanced to the Syrian border as they engaged in warfare on the terrorist deployments along "Fatahland." For the first time attack helicopters, equipped with anti-tank missiles, were used – the Israelis employing "Cobra" helicopters with Tau missiles, and the Syrians, "Gazelle" helicopters with haute missiles.
In the central sector, tough battles were in process. The Syrians reinforced their troops with commando and armored units, and demonstrated capability in combat. D's unit nevertheless succeeded in advancing to a point 5 km. (3.12 miles) south of the al-Modairej junction.
On the coastal axis, Brigadier-General Yaron's troops succeeded in reaching the village of Sil, south of the Beirut airport. There they were stopped by Syrian brigade 85 and terrorist units. In the meantime, Y's troops continued in their mopping-up of terrorists in the area between the Awali River in the North and the Litani River in the south, placing emphasis on the city of Sidon and the Ein Hilweh refugee camp.
The Israel Air Force attacked a tank convoy on its way to the front, on the night of June 9–10. Throughout that same day, its pilots supported the land forces in every sector of the battle. In addition, they destroyed two sa6 batteries which had been placed by the Syrians in the Bekaa, and shot down 33 Syrian fighter planes in aerial combat, with no loss. The president of Syria decided to reinforce his troops in order to halt the idf advance in Lebanon, rather than to comply with Israel's demand for a cease-fire. In contrast, the Israeli government believed that its own main objective in Lebanon had been realized, for the terrorists had been moved beyond firing-range of the Israeli border. In consideration of its commitment to the United States, the Israeli government decided to declare a unilateral cease-fire. The general order for the idf was as follows: along the coastal axis, to try and join up with the Christians; in the central sector, to try and reach the Beirut–Damascus axis; and in the eastern sector, to deploy along the lines it had reached so as to be prepared in the event of armored combat with Syrian troops, whose arrival from Syria was assessed as likely.
The United States retained a balanced position. On one hand, it rejected Soviet and Western European pressures to impose sanctions on Israel, and on the other, it cancelled Secretary of State Haig's visit there, claiming that the Israel government was not demonstrating flexibility.
friday, june 11
The battles began at dawn. Y.M.'s formation, which had reinforced Major-General Ben-Gal's troops, was busy rescuing a tank battalion which, at night, had mistakenly come upon the Syrian disposition in Sultan Yaakub. In the morning, armored combat erupted between Syrian tank units from Syrian Division 3 – which had just been thrown into the battle and Major-General Ben-Gal's units. The Syrians suffered numerous losses. These battles were fought with tanks of the 1980s: the Russian t-72, and the Israeli "Merkavah" ("chariot").
No progress was made in the eastern sector. The cease-fire had broken off in full swing an attack the aim of which had been to reach the Beirut–Damascus axis. Brigadier-General Yaron's troops had managed to advance along the coastal axis, but at the time that the cease-fire was called had not succeeded in joining the Christian forces in Beirut.
Artillery and air force units supported the idf troops in their advance. Severe battles were fought near the village of Sil with a Syrian array which was blocking the route to Beirut on the coastal axis. In the aerial battles which took place on that day, 23 Syrian fighter planes were shot down. At 12:00 noon, both the idf units and the Syrian forces ceased fire.
There appear to have been two main reasons responsible for the Syrian president's change of mind. The first was the knowledge of the heavy losses suffered by the Syrian army, both in the air and on land, as well as the realization of what would await the Syrian land forces as a result of the clear-cut superiority of the Israel Air Force. The second reason, it can be assumed, had to do with the Soviet Union, which, since the ninth of the month, had been pressuring the United States to prevail upon Israel to cease its fire. In spite of the fact that the cease-fire went into effect at 12:00 noon, the terrorist organizations refused to comply, and the fighting in the western sector continued.
idf Troops Join Up with the Christians in the Beirut Area, from Noon June 11 Until Noon June 13
The Israeli government ordered the idf to join the Christians in the Beirut area. Brigadier-General Yaron decided to arrange his forces in two military arms: one would bypass the blockade at Sil from the east, by way of the villages of Suk al-Arab, Ein Anub, and Shima; this course of action was to be carried out by a paratroop brigade led by Y. The second would occupy the village of Sil and continue on to Khalde Airport; this mission would be undertaken by a Golani brigade led by A.R. After 48 hours of combat, the mission was accomplished. The attack began in the early evening of June 11, supported by artillery and air force planes. In spite of their efforts, the Syrian fighting men and the terrorists who were interspersed among Syrian dispositions in South Beirut did not succeed in stopping the idf troops. At 11:00 a.m. on June 11, the Israeli paratroopers succeeded in joining the Christians in the village of Shima, and from there continued on into East Beirut. When the blockade in Sil had been broken, a tank unit led by M.A. moved towards Khalde and Ba'abdeh, where the presidential palace is located. Meanwhile, terrorist posts in the refugee camps to the south of Beirut were being shelled by Israeli gunboats. As a result of American intervention, a new cease-fire was declared.
Coordination of Israel and U.S. Positions during the Stabilization of Lines, June 14–20
On June 14, idf troops improved their positions in the direction of the Al-Matan Mountains, in order to increase their control of the Beirut–Damascus axis.
In response, the U.S.S.R. made a public warning to Israel on June 15, and sent an elint comint ship and two frigates bearing missiles off the coast of Lebanon. It also sent a high-ranking military delegation to Damascus. On the same day, Israel's prime minister left for Washington to meet with the American president and secretary of state. On June 18, it was announced in the media that the U.S. and Israel had reached an agreement whereby the departure of all foreign forces from Lebanon would be a necessary pre-condition for the reaching of a new arrangement there.
idf Troops Take Control of the Beirut–Damascus Axis up to Al-Tzofar, June 20–25
In Israel it was felt that under political pressure, a situation could arise in which Israel would be forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon's capital. The situation created was such that a withdrawal to the south would have meant the relinquishment of the isolation of Beirut, and an opportunity for the Syrians to send reinforcements there. Hence, the Israeli ministerial level decided to give the idf the mission of expanding its stronghold along the Beirut–Damascus axis, so as to ensure the continuation of Beirut's being cut off to the entry of Syrian forces. According to the plan put forth by the regional commander, two forces were to advance gradually in a pincers movement. The first force, led by M, was to leave the region of Beit a-Din and head north towards Bhamdun, situated on the Beirut–Damascus highway. The second, led by Brigadier-General Yaron, was to leave Beirut and head east towards Aley. On the night of June 21–22, the first force began its move. Approximately 48 hours later, it reached the designated Syrian area in Al-Mantzuria, about 5 km. (3.12 miles) to the south of the Beirut–Damascus highway. The second force then began to move eastward out from Beirut. In four days of heavy battle, the forces succeeded in executing their missions and in taking control of the section of the axis extending from Beirut to Tzofar, to the east of Bhamdun. The artillery and air force planes supported the land troops in the course of their combat. The artillery destroyed two batteries of sa6 missiles which had been rushed by the Syrians to the battlefield. The air force shot down two Syrian fighter planes, and in the eastern sector destroyed, on June 25, a battery of sa6 missiles, which the Syrians had infiltrated into the Bekaa on the previous day. In the region to the south of the Awali River, the screening of the area for terrorists continued with the aid of Major Saad Haddad's militiamen.
Evacuation of the Terrorists and the Syrian Army from West Beirut, June 26–September 1
negotiations for the evacuation of the terrorists and the syrians from beirut, june 26–august 19
One of the Israeli war aims was to free Beirut of terrorists and of Syrian forces. The president of Syria rejected Israel's demand and ordered its soldiers to fight to the bitter end. In addition, Assad demanded that Israel withdraw its forces from all of Lebanon. Prime Minister Begin made idf withdrawal from Lebanon conditional upon the withdrawal of the Syrian army from the country. Arafat said that his people would not leave Beirut and that they would fight tooth and nail; he also reproached the Arab countries for not having come to his aid in the war against Israel. In spite of this, the Israeli government decided that while a decision to occupy Beirut had not yet been made, it was necessary first to exhaust every possible diplomatic option. The United States offered its services towards finding a solution to the problem.
As negotiations began, U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig resigned, and George Shultz was appointed in his place. Philip Habib, as an intermediary, tried to find a solution agreeable to all involved. The proposal finally forged was to establish a multinational force, to consist of American, British, French, and Italian units, whose task would be to ensure the evacuation of the terrorists and the Syrians from Beirut. The negotiations lasted for approximately eight weeks, due predominantly to the difficulties encountered by the plo in finding countries willing to give it asylum, and due to Arafat's attempt to stall for time in the hopes that the political pressure on Israel would increase to such an extent that it would be forced to allow Arafat to leave parts of his organization in Beirut. However, Israel was determined to carry out its objectives to the letter. Thus, while conducting the negotiations, Israel applied psychological and military pressure on West Beirut, so as to suppress their fighting spirit and power of resistance and to hasten their departure from the city. The means employed for this purpose were the distribution of leaflets outlining existing alternatives, cutting off of water and electricity supply to the city, bombardment by artillery, gunboats, and fighterplanes, and denial of re-entry into the city to those who had left it.
The fighting around Beirut influenced the Syrians to initiate many incidents in the Bekaa sector. In response to the numerous breaches of the cease-fire, the idf attacked the Syrian disposition in the Bekaa with great force on July 22. Approximately 70 tanks and dozens of Syrian cannons were destroyed in the course of the battle.
When it became apparent to Israel that the terrorists and the Syrians had not been sufficiently put down, the Israeli cabinet decided on a tightening of the siege. Between August 1–12, Brigadier-General Yaron's troops occupied Beirut's international airport, the neighborhood of Hi-as-Salum (Aug. 2), the Al-Uzai refugee camp and the international museum (Aug. 3–4), the Hippodrome and Beirut Forest (Aug. 11). Terrorist posts in Beirut were fired on by artillery men and gunboats, and bombed by Israeli fighter warplanes. Following this incident, and due to the entrance of idf troops into Beirut, Syria and the plo agreed to leave the city, bringing the negotiations to a close on August 19.
evacuation of the terrorists and syrian forces from beirut, aug. 20–sept. 1
The countries which agreed to offer asylum to the plo were Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Republic of Southern Yemen, North Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, and Algeria. The multinational force arrived in Beirut from Aug. 21 to Aug. 26, and the evacuation began. Most of the terrorists were evacuated by way of the sea. Some of them, together with the Syrian forces, crossed on land over to Syria along the Beirut–Damascus axis. In all, about 8,000 Palestinians left by sea and 6,000 Syrians and Palestinians by land.
As of September 1, 1982, the casualties suffered by the warring parties stood at: Israel, 347 killed, 2,127 wounded, three captured, and five missing; Syria, approximately 1,000 killed and 149 captured; terrorists, approximately 2,000 killed and about 5,000 captured. Israel lost two helicopters and one "Skyhawk" fighterplane. Syria had 85 fighterplanes and five helicopters shot down, and approximately 400 tanks (including nine t-72's) destroyed. The terrorists lost about 100 tanks. Spoils taken from them included hundreds of cannons, mortars, and katyushas, as well as thousands of tons of ammunition and explosives.
The aftermath of the Lebanese War developed into a protracted and costly military occupation which would ultimately claim around 1,000 Israeli lives. The high hopes Israel had placed in a friendly Phalange-dominated Lebanese government were shattered when President-Elect Bashir Jumayyil was assassinated on September 14. This was followed by the Sabra and Shatilla massacre of Palestinian refugees by Phalange troops. An agreement reached with the new president, Bashir's brother Amin, in April 1983 terminating the state of war between the two countries was never ratified. In the meanwhile Shiite and *Hizbollah resistance mounted along with public pressure in Israel for a withdrawal, which was finally accomplished in three stages in 1985, leaving Israel in control of a narrow security zone on the Lebanese side of the border. Shiite and Hizbollah attacks continued, however. Israel responded with major incursions in 1988, 1993 (Operation Accounting), and 1996 (Operation Grapes of Wrath). Finally, in May 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Barak unilaterally withdrew all Israeli troops from Lebanon, which brought relative quiet until the violent clashes with Hizbollah in summer 2006. For a summary of the fighting, see *Israel, State of: Historical Survey.
C. Herzog, Arab-Israeli Wars (1982); Z. Schiff and E. Ya'ari, Israel's Lebanon War (1986); T.L. Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem (19902).