By the early 1980s Lebanon had become home for virtually all factions of the PLO. Beirut and the mini state Arafat created there provided the PLO with a convenient base for launching guerilla raids directly into Israel and for recruitng and training operatives On May 9, 1982 100 Katyusha rockets were fired from south Lebanon into Israel’s northern Galilee settlements. IDF troops were dispatched to the Lebanese border several days later. Then, on June 3 Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Shlomo Argov, was gravely wounded in a terrorist attack in London. Israel responded by embarking on Operation Peace for Galilee and invading Lebanon on June 5th along three fronts. The rapid IDF advance in Lebanon also brought Israeli forces into direct conflict with Syrian forces in the Biqa valley of Lebanon.

In Lebanon Israel had four declared strategic objectives:

  • to destroy PLO forces in Lebanon.
  • to run Syrian troops out of Lebanon.
  • to help Christian forces seize Beirut and base a stable and pro-Israeli Christian government in Lebanon.
  • to ensure peace and tranquility to Israel’s northern settlements.

By June 24 Israeli forces succeeded in cutting the strategic Beirut-Damascus highway and by early July they laid siege to Beirut. PLO forces were forced to withdraw from Lebanon to nine locations in the Arab world, temporarily ceasing to be a meaningful military force in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In 1983 Israeli forces pulled back from the outskirts of the Lebanese capital and in 1985 they pulled back further and set up a security zone in south Lebanon designed to protect Israeli settlements in the northern Galilee from PLO or other transborder attacks(1). The expulsion of the PLO forces from Lebanon forced Arafat to pursue a much more pragmatic attitude towards Israel. However, at the same time, the PLO was replaced by a new guerilla force that emerged in Lebanon from within the Shiite population: the Iranian and Syrian backed Hizbulla, whose main objective was to run Israel out of Lebanon. Between 1996 and 1999, 101 Israelis were killed in Lebanon, 1423 guerilla attacks were carried out against IDF forces and the Israeli airforce conducted 1771 air attacks in Lebanon (2). The Israeli forces pulled out of Lebanon on May 24, 2000.

(1) Michael Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld, A Study of Crisis, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997: 296-7.
(2) IDF Spokeperson’s Unit, IDF website.



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26 Apr 2015 / 7 Iyar 5775 0