The 1982 Israeli Invasion of Lebanon 

Reasons and Aims

Pierre Khazen 12/3/2006 

Shlomo Argov:

On 3 June 1982 at 11 pm, Shlomo Argov, the Israeli Ambassador to Britain was attacked by 3 members of Abu Nidal’s Organization. The assassins were waiting for the ambassador to leave a Diplomats dinner party which was held in Dorchester hotel in London and critically injured him when one of the bullets fired hit his head; Argov was rushed to the hospital where doctors managed to save his life but he remained paralysed till he died in 2003.   

Ariel Sharon:

Ariel Sharon, Minister of Defence, heard about this attempt to assassinate the ambassador while he was paying Romania a visit according to his duty. He decided to continue with his meetings with senior officials in the Romanian regime. He left to Israel the day after.

The Government:

Menachem Begin held a meeting the next day with the government to discuss the increasing Palestinian terror against Israeli targets without the presence of Ariel Sharon as he still did not arrive in Israel. The government decided that Israel?s reaction would target the PLO in Lebanon which was based and operated from there.   

Rafael Etan:

Despite the absence of Ariel Sharon, Begin called Lieutenant General – Chief of Staff Rafael Etan and asked him to attend the government’s meeting to give ministers suggestions as to destinations in Lebanon to attack at the same day. Rafael Etan suggested air raids on 11 targets which were marked by the IDF as ammunition and training camps of the PLO in suburbs of Beirut. Rafael Etan’s suggestion was approved where begin asked him to prepare the IDF for the possibility that there would be a need to carry out ground operations in case the PLO launches Katyushas.

The targets which Rafael Etan suggested including two targets in Beirut were attacked on 4 June 1982 where the Palestinians suffered heavy loss. Two hours later, the Palestinians launched 500 Katyushas on settlements in the Galilee for two days.

On Ariel Sharon’s return from Romania, he was updated by Rafael Etan that the IDF moved tanks into the security zone in south Lebanon which was controlled by the Christian militia of Major Saad Haddad as a preparation to a situation where the Government approved of ground operations.           

The Oranim plan:

Since January, the IDF was preparing a plan which Ariel Sharon inspected to carry out a ground invasion in Lebanon called Oranim. This government’s meeting on June the 4th was the motive for Israel’s involvement in Lebanon in a later stage and the execution of the plan. Although Ariel Sharon was the creator of Oranim, Rafael Etan was well aware of its details and the preparation for execution of Oranim was completed long before Ariel Sharon left for his visit in Bucharest.

The aims of Oranim Plan were:

         To achieve an all-out solution for Lebanon’s problem in its all aspects.

         To prevent the PLO’s artillery threat against settlements in the Galilee and northern boarder of Israel.

         To eliminate the military and political infrastructure which the PLO established in south Lebanon and around Beirut.

         To disable the sponsorship which the Syrians give the PLO-Muslim alliance and at the same time avoid direct confrontation with the Syrian army in Lebanon.

         To help the Christian forces in the north and establish a stable government which seeks peace with Israel.

Ariel Sharon’s thinking and discretion:

         Israel can not stand still at the moment Syria enters Lebanon from the point of view that Syria sponsors terror.

         The civil war which broke out between the PLO-Muslim alliance and the Christian militias and the general chaos as a result, would bring more power to the PLO.

         Entry of the Syrians in Lebanon without Israel reacting, changes negatively balance of power.

         Any confrontation with ‘Fatah state’ would include the risk of confrontation with the Syrian army.                                                          

The Coastal Road Massacre:

After the Coastal Road Massacre on 11 March 1978 which the PLO was responsible for and the fact that the terror attack came through Tyre’s port, Litani operation was created by Begin and minister of defence Ezer Weizmann; a ground operation in south Lebanon which took 7 days to complete which pushed the PLO from boarder of Israel to north of Litani river.                     

After the completion of the operation, a security zone of 10 km was set up on Lebanon’s land controlled by a Christian militia commanded by Major Saad Haddad who developed friendly relations with Israel.

Despite the operation, the PLO started launching Katyusha Rockets on the settlements in the Galilee; this made-up Ariel Sharon’s mind to take drastic stages.

Philip Habib:

The American envoy Philip Habib who was sent to the Middle-East managed to achieve cease-fire in July 1981 after sharp deterioration of the situation in Lebanon-Israel boarder where battles burst-out between the Christians and the Syrians in Zahlah and the PLO launched katyushas and carried out terror attacks in Israel while Israel bombarded PLO’s bases in return. Despite the agreement which was achieved in the end, the PLO violated the Cease-fire and started its terror attacks again against Israel and Israeli targets abroad where his artillery was becoming more powerful and about 15000 armed Palestinian warriors were based in Fatah land.        

The decision not to confront the Syrians:

When Ariel Sharon became minister of defence, he stressed that when Oranim plan is carried out there will be no intention to confront the Syrians in Lebanon and that the plan was not to enter Beirut though Beirut – Demascus road, which was looked upon by the Syrians as an essential strategy to control, was part of the plan.                  

The secret visit to Beirut:

Between the Christians and the IDF, there was continuous military and political co-operation right from 1976 when Yitzhak Rabin was still the prime minister. Ariel Sharon carried on studying his plan and on 12 January 1982 he left for his first secret meeting with Bashir Gemayel in Beirut who welcomed him warmly. Ariel Sharon arrived in Beirut with IDF’s seniors, security men and a Doctor, Ariel Sharon’s friend. Ariel Sharon was honoured by Bashir Gemayel who held a dinner party for the occasion at Jounieh’s port where he was offered Lebanese cuisine.  

The phalanges’ aim:

That the IDF would invade Lebanon, eliminate PLO’s infrastructure and deport the Syrians from Beirut and valley.

Ariel Sharon’s restrictions:

The IDF will uproot the PLO infrastructure in Lebanon but there will be no action against the Syrians; the Christians will need to do it by political means after the PLO is struck fatally and the Christians control Greater – Beirut.

Ariel Sharon and Bashir Gemayel’s agreement:

         Israel invades Lebanon.

         The IDF will carry on marching till the north, near Beirut.

         The operations will give the Christians the opportunity to control Beirut.

     Pierre Gemayel and Camille Chamoun attended the meeting.

Mutual visits:

In 1982, Rafael Etan visited Bashir Gemayel in Beirut and afterwards, Bashir Gemayel visited Ariel Sharon and Begin in Jerusalem where Sharon and Rafoul came to the assumption that ground operations were necessary to terminate the PLO’s infrastructure.

Amendment of Oranim operation:

Oranim operation was amended several times before it was executed as follows:

         The IDF will destroy the PLO?s infrastructure and will join the Christians in north Lebanon to create a new situation.

         The IDF will occupy Beirut.

         The IDF will be prepared to destroy the Syrian army in the valley and Beirut – Demascus road and ready to operate further.

         The operation resembles the ordinary Oranim.

         Aims of the operation will be achieved gradually.

What the ministers knew virtually:

         The operation will be limited.

         The nature of the operation will be policing but it will have impact on what was happening in Lebanon.

         The target was the PLO.

         There will be no confrontation with the Syrians unless they attack the IDF.

         The aim of the operation is to push the artillery and Katyushas which the PLO holds to an area where they will not be able to attack the settlements in the north. That is 40 km.

         According to measurement, it starts from Metulla till Sidon.

         There will be no occupation of Beirut.

         The operation will last 12 – 24 hours unless things develop differently.

The ministers heard a report that the PLO is targeting civilian territories and not military. No details were provided as to Beirut or joining the Christians in the north. The ministers had the impression that the operation will be similar to the Litani operation. After the explanation, voting scored 14 ministers for the operation, two ministers against the operation and one minister suggested continuation of air bombing terror targets for two days to see how things develop but his suggestion was rejected. On this occasion, Begin made a declaration of Peace for the Galilee operation, another name for the Oranim operation.

The Official declaration:

The official declaration by the government as to Peace for the Galilee operation was phrased by Begin and did not limit the IDF to 40 km but merely declared that the IDF’s mission was to prevent the PLO’s attacks which their bases are on Lebanon’s soil and that the IDF will not attack the Syrian army unless it attacks the IDF.   

The letter which Begin sent the President of the USA:

The letter said that the intention of this operation was to clear the area where the PLO is based around 40 km from the northern boarder between Israel and Lebanon.   

The command given to the IDF:

The command which the IDF was given was to join the Christians in the north and be prepared to destroy the Syrian army.

The start of Peace for the Galilee operation:

On Sunday 6 June 1982, the operation for the Galilee’s peace began. 

Based on biography of Ariel Sharon