Palestine: Part 25 – 1982 Lebanon War
Palestine: Part 24 – Is Peace Possible?
The 1982 Lebanon War began June 6, 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon. The Government of Israel launched the military operation after an assassination attempt against their ambassador to the United Kingdom which was used as justification for the invasion. This justification for the Lebanon invasion by Israel has been criticized given the 1974 split between the Palestinian group responsible for the assassination and Arafat’s PLO with their leader being Arafat’s mortal Palestinian enemy. Additionally, Israeli agents were also seeking to assassinate Fatah officials whom were based in Syria and not in Lebanon.
By expelling the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), removing Syrian influence over Lebanon, and installing a pro-Israeli Christian government, Israel hoped to sign a treaty which was promised to give “forty years of peace”. However, the long occupation that followed Israel’s 1982 invasion had repercussions for Israel with Hezbollah being conceived to fight the Israeli occupation.
After attacking the PLO as well as Syrian, leftist, and Muslim Lebanese forces, Israel 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 a United States Special Envoy and the protection of international peacekeepers. The PLO relocated its headquarters to Tripoli in June 1982.
However, following the assassination of the Lebanese President, 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 southern Lebanon, which was initiated following the May 17 Agreement and Syria’s change of attitude towards the PLO.
After Israel had left most of Lebanon, the War of the Camps broke out between Lebanese factions, 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 18 years of low-scale armed conflict. The Lebanese Civil War would continue until 1990, at which point Syria had established complete dominance over Lebanon.
Palestine: Part 26 – The First Intifada