Richard Melson

September 2006

Lebanon 1982 & 9/11

Osama Bin Laden Warns America

CAIRO, Egypt, Oct. 29, 2004


Excerpts from the video tape by Osama bin Laden

that was broadcast on Al-Jazeera Friday:

"You, the American people, my message to you is about the best way to avoid a new Manhattan, about the war, its reasons and results. I tell you: security is an important element of human life and free people do not give up their security. If Bush says we hate freedom, let him tell us why we didn't attack Sweden, for example. It is known that those who hate freedom do not have dignified souls, like those of the 19 blessed ones," he said, referring to the hijackers of Sept. 11.

"We fought you because we are free people who want to regain the freedom of our nation. As you undermine our security, we undermine yours."

Bin Laden said the relationship between Bush and his father, the former president, reminded him of many Middle Eastern regimes.

"We did not find it difficult to deal with Bush and his administration because it is similar to regimes in our countries in that half of them are ruled by the military and the other half are ruled by the sons of kings and presidents. We have a long experience with them ....

Bin Laden said that when the senior Bush, the former president, visited the Middle East, he was impressed by their regimes.

"He envied them for staying in power for decades and embezzling the nation's wealth. So he transferred tyranny and oppression to his son and they named it 'homeland security law' under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Bush, the father, did well by installing his sons as governors of states, and he did not forget to transfer the expertise of forgery to Florida to benefit them in critical times."

"In spite of our being in the fourth year after the incidents of the 11th (of September), Bush is still misleading you by hiding the real reason from you. Therefore, everything is there to repeat what happened. I will talk to you about the reason behind these attacks and will tell you about the moment that this decision was taken. God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind.

The incidents that affected me directly go back to 1982, and what followed when America gave Israel the permission to invade Lebanon with the help of the American 6th Fleet. At this difficult time, many thoughts came to me. They brought a strong desire to reject injustice and they created a strong determination to punish those doing this injustice. While I was looking at the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it came to my mind to punish those unjust people in the same way, to destroy towers in America to make them feel what we had felt, and to deter them from killing our children and women."

1982 Lebanon War:

The Lebanon War began June 6, 1982,

when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon.

(Hebrew: Milkhemet Levanon, Milkhemet Levanon,

also known as the Operation Peace of the Galilee,

Mivtsa Shalom HaGalil in Hebrew),

The Government of Israel gave a green light for the invasion as a response to the assassination attempt against Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov by Fatah - Revolutionary Council and to artillery attacks launched by the Palestine Liberation Organization against populated areas in northern Israel.

These were the pretexts rather than the causes. The PLO’s rise in legitimacy was the main cause and the Likud’s mentality of right-radical "perpetual belligerence is good for nation-building," "worse is better" and "war is peace" were the deeper causes. 

For example, the Jewish head of Austria, Bruno Kreisky, recognized the PLO in 1980, making Israel's right-wing and the Likudniks hysterical.

See also Operation Litani.

After attacking PLO, Syrian and Muslim Lebanese forces, Israel occupied southern Lebanon. Surrounded in West Beirut and subject to heavy bombardment, the PLO and the Syrian forces negotiated passage from Lebanon with the aid of international peacekeepers.

Since July 2006, when what most Israelis tend to call "The Second Lebanon War" broke out, the war of 1982 is often refered to as "The First Lebanon War".


After the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, Lebanon became home to more than 110,000 Palestinian refugees from their homes in present day Israel. From 1970 to 1973, the PLO was engaged in the Jordanian Civil War, which routed a large number of Palestinian fighters and refugees into neighboring Lebanon. By 1975, they numbered more than 300,000, creating an informal state-within-a-state in South Lebanon. The PLO became a powerful force and played an important role in the Lebanese Civil War. Continual violence occurred between Israel and the PLO from 1968, peaking in Operation Litani.

On 10 July 1981, after a period of peace, violence erupted in South Lebanon. According to the U.N. Secretary-General, the Israeli air force bombarded Palestinian targets in south Lebanon, and later that day Palestinian elements fired artillery and rockets into northern Israel. However, according to the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, "Israel responded to PLO rocket attacks on northern Israeli settlements by bombing PLO encampments in southern Lebanon."[1] The United Nations Secretary-General noted, "After several weeks of relative quiet in the area, a new cycle of violence has begun and has, in the past week, steadily intensified." He further stated, "There have been heavy civilian casualties in Lebanon; there have been civilian casualties in Israel as well. I deeply deplore the extensive human suffering caused by these developments." The President of the Security Council, Ide Oumarou of Niger, expressed "deep concern at the extent of the loss of life and the scale of the destruction caused by the deplorable events that have been taking place for several days in Lebanon."[2] [3] On July 24, United States envoy Philip Habib brokered a shaky ceasefire, but incidents continued. Over the next 11 months, Israel charged that the PLO committed 270 violations of the cease-fire, in which 29 Israelis were killed and more than 300 were injured. Israel is also charged with violating the cease-fire during this time, leading to many Palestinian and Lebanese deaths.[1]

The Palestinian forces continued to grow in Lebanon with full-time military personnel numbering around 15,000, although only 6,000 of these, including 4,500 regulars, were deployed in the south. They were armed with 60 aging tanks, many of which were no longer mobile, and 100-200 pieces of artillery (Sayigh, 1999, p. 524). According to Israeli analysts Schiff and Ya'ari (1984), the PLO more than tripled its artillery from 80 cannons and rocket launchers in July 1981 to 250 in June 1982 (pp. 83-84). The same authors also refer to Israeli intelligence estimates of the number of PLO fighters in southern Lebanon of 6,000 "divided into three concentrations; about 1,500 south of the Litani River in the so-called Iron Triangle (between the villages of Kana, Dir Amas, and Juya), Tyre, and its surrounding refugee camps; another 2,500 of the Kastel Brigade in three districts between the Litani and a line running from Sidon to northeast of Nabatiye; and a third large concentration of about 1,500-2,000 men of the Karameh Brigade in the east, on the slopes of Mount Hermon" (pp. 134-135). The total forces deployed by Syria, the PLO and Israel during the conflict are detailed in the table below. On 21 April 1982, after a landmine killed an Israeli officer in Lebanon, the Israeli Air Force attacked the Palestinian-controlled coastal town of Damour, killing 23 people. Despite this and numerous other attacks launched since 24 July, 1981 the PLO continued to observe the cease-fire agreement (Cobban, 1984, pp. 119-120). The Secretary-General computed from his reports to the Security Council (S/14789, S/15194) that from August 1981 to May 1982 inclusive, there were 2096 violations of Lebanese airspace and 652 violations of Lebanese territorial waters (Chomsky, 1999, p. 195; Cobban, 1984, p. 112) [4]. On June 3, the Palestinian militant group Fatah-The Revolutionary Council (headed by Yasser Arafat's opponent Abu Nidal) attempted to assassinate Shlomo Argov, Israel's ambassador in London, paralyzing him. Prime Minister Menachem Begin had been informed by Israeli intelligence that the PLO was not involved in the attack on Argov, but withheld this information from his Cabinet (Gilbert, 1998, p. 503). Rafael Eitan, who was then the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, responded to the aforementioned information in his famous saying "Abu Nidal, abu shmidal. We need to screw PLO!"

On June 4 and 5, Israeli F-16 planes bombed Palestinian refugee camps and other PLO targets in Beirut and southern Lebanon killing 45 and wounding 150. For the first time in over ten months, the PLO responded by launching artillery and mortar attacks on civilian centers in northern Israel. On 6 June 1982, Israeli forces under direction of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon invaded southern Lebanon in their "Operation Peace of the Galilee".

Israeli, Syrian and PLO Forces in the 1982 War
(Adapted from Brzoska & Pearson, 1994, p. 117)
















Anti-Tank Weapons




Major Artillery




Anti-Aircraft Guns




Total Combat Aircraft




Total Aircraft Engaged




Attack Aircraft




Armed Helicopters




Major SAM Launchers




Reasons for the war

Starting in 1968, Palestinian groups in southern Lebanon raided northern Israel, and bombarded Israeli towns with katyusha rockets.

Secondly, Israel argued it could derail the establishment of a base of operations for the PLO, from which they could mount assaults in the international arena such as the 26 December 1968 attack on an Israeli civilian airliner in Athens.

Another reason given for the invasion was as an intervention in the ongoing Lebanese Civil War to counteract Syrian influences in Lebanon, and possibly enable the establishment of a stable Lebanese leadership from the Christian population, which would strengthen a central Lebanese Army, restore security and agree to diplomatic relations with Israel.

According to former chief of Israeli military intelligence Yehoshafat Harkabi, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon was accompanied by deceit at the highest political levels. Harkarbi cites misleading statements to the cabinet by Ariel Sharon and Begin, inaccurate announcements by Israel's military spokesmen and the Likud government's gross exaggeration of terrorist acts conducted from Lebanon.

Defence Minister Rabin admitted in the Knesset[ that during the eleven-month ceasefire preceding the war, Israel's northern settlements had been attacked only twice and that during this period Israel had suffered a total of two killed and six wounded from terrorist attacks. These attacks had been preceded by Israeli strikes in response to the planting of a bomb on a bus and the attack on Shlomo Argov.

Course of the fighting

Israel's objective was to push back the PLO militants 40 kilometres to the north. The Israeli forces soon reached that target but were determined to drive the PLO from southern Lebanon once and for all[5]. Tyre and Sidon (major cities in the south of Lebanon, still within the 40 kilometre limit) were heavily damaged, and the Lebanese capital Beirut was shelled for ten weeks, killing both PLO members and civilians.

The Israeli Air Force shot down many Syrian aircraft over Lebanon, shooting down 86 Syrian aircraft, with no air combat losses [6], as well as performing ground attacks, notably destroying the majority of Syrian anti-aircraft batteries stationed in Lebanon. AH-1 Cobra helicopter gunships were used widely against Syrian armor and fortifications. The IAF Cobras destroyed dozens of Syrian armored fighting vehicles, including some of the modern Soviet T-72 main battle tanks.

Later in 1982, an agreement was reached and American, French and Italian peacekeepers sent the PLO survivors to surrounding Arab states. This peacekeeping force was known as the Multinational Force in Lebanon. Philip Habib, Ronald Reagan's envoy to Lebanon, provided an undertaking to the PLO that the Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps would not be harmed. However, the United States Marines left West Beirut two weeks before the end of their official mandate. After the assassination of Bashir Gemayel, newly appointed President of Lebanon, Israeli forces occupied West Beirut. At that time the Lebanese Christian Militia, also known as the Phalangists, were allies of Israel and were responsible for the massacre at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, causing between 700 and 3500 victims.

Outcome of the war


It is estimated that around 17,825 Arabs were killed during the war. There are different estimates of the proportion of civilians killed. Beirut newspaper An Nahar estimated that 5,515 people, military and civilian, were killed in the Beirut area only during the conflict, and 9,797 military personnel (PLO, Syrian, and others) and 2,513 civilians were killed outside of the Beirut area.[7] Approximately 675 Israeli soldiers were killed.

The security buffer zone

In August 1982, the PLO withdrew most of its forces from Lebanon. With U.S. assistance, Israel and Lebanon reached an accord in May 1983 that set the stage to withdraw Israeli forces from Lebanon. The instruments of ratification were never exchanged, however, and in March 1984, under pressure from Syria, Lebanon canceled the agreement. In January 1985 Israel started to withdraw most of its troops, leaving a small residual Israeli force and an Israeli-supported militia in southern Lebanon in a "security zone," which Israel considered a necessary buffer against attacks on its northern territory. The Israeli withdrawal to the security zone ended in June 1985.

Political results

In the voting in the Knesset on the war, only Hadash opposed the war (and even submitted a no-confidence motion against the government). Hadash Knesset member Meir Vilner, said in the Knesset plenary session that "The government is leading Israel to an abyss. She is doing something that in the course of time might lead to crying for generations". In response they were condemned and calls were heard, among others from the editor of Yediot Ahronoth to prosecute them for treason. Left-wing Knesset members, including Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Sarid were absent from the plenary for the vote. The HaMa'arakh faction even voted in support. The newspapers, except Haaretz, also supported the war: optimistic articles were published (for instance, reports were made on a lessening in the number of theft in Gush Dan region, implying that there was a connection with the war) and not one doubting voice was heard in these communications media.

The most famous case of the cooperation between the media with the government was during the conquest of Beaufort. The Prime Minister of Israel reported that Beaufort was conquered "without losses", even though it was known that six soldiers of Sayeret Golani, including the commander of the Sayeret, Major Goni Hernik, fell during the fighting. The media itself reported the courage and bravery of the soldiers in the battle, but did not mention the losses.

Only fastidious examination of the obituaries showed another picture: "on the death of Major Goni Hernik, in the time of the conquest of Beaufort, mourn Peace Now movement".

But heavy Israeli casualties, alleged disinformation of government leaders and the public by military and political advocates of the campaign, and lack of clear goals, led to increasing disquiet among Israelis. This culminated in a large protestor rally in Tel Aviv, organized by the Peace Now movement, following the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre. Organizers claimed 400,000 people participated in the rally, and it became known as the "400,000 rally", but actual figures are estimated to have been much lower.[8]

In addition, it has been noted that the US Embassy bombing on April 18, 1983 and the bombing of the United States Marine barracks in Lebanon on October 23, 1983 were forerunners of the kinds of asymmetrical warfare experienced with increasing frequency in later decades. Such attacks revealed the limited utility of overwhelming superiority of conventional forces in providing immunity from highly visible losses when the attackers are willing and able to operate anonymously from the midst of noncombatant populations which the leadership of those conventional forces are unwilling to destroy.

Israel finally withdrew from the "security zone" in 2000, during the Prime Ministership of Ehud Barak. Israel continues to control a small area called "Shebaa Farms", which Lebanon and Syria claim to be Lebanese territory but Israel insists to be former Syrian territory with the same status as the Golan Heights, since they have captured it from the Syrians. The United Nations has determined that Shebaa Farms is not part of Lebanon. The UN Secretary-General had concluded that, as of 16 June 2000, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425 of 1978, bringing closure to the 1982 invasion as far as the UN was concerned.



1982 Lebanon War
(Arab-Israeli conflict)




Southern Lebanon


PLO withdrawal (1982)

Occupation of southern Lebanon (1982–1985),

then border areas (1985–2000) by Israel,

resulting in 1982-2000 South Lebanon conflict.

Continued de facto occupation of most of

Lebanon by Syria (1976–2005).

control over southern Lebanon by Hezbollah



Phalangists Amal


Menachem Begin (Prime Minister)

Ariel Sharon, (Ministry of Defence)

Rafael Eitan, (CoS)

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

Imad Mughniyah

Yasser Arafat

Strength 76,000 37,000 Casualties 675 9,800

Israel 1982 Lebanon Invasion as Major Cause of 9/11

Sept. 6, 2006