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Lebanon War

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The history of Lebanon contained many periods of prosperity separated by chaos and wars between the different minorities.

Beginning of the Civil War--1975-81 Fullscale civil war broke out in Lebanon in April 1975. After shots were fired at a church, gunmen in Christian East Beirut ambushed a busload of Palestinians. Palestinian forces joined predominantly leftist-Muslim factions as the fighting persisted, eventually spreading to most parts of the country and precipitating the President's call for support from Syrian troops in June 1976. In fall of 1976, Arab summits in Riyadh and Cairo set out a plan to end the war. The resulting Arab Deterrent Force, which included Syrian troops already present, moved in to help separate combatants. As an uneasy quiet settled over Beirut, security conditions in the south began to deteriorate.

After a PLO attack on a bus in northern Israel and the Israeli retaliation caused heavy casualties, Israel invaded Lebanon in March 1978, occupying most of the area south of the Litani River. In response, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 425 calling for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces and creating the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), charged with maintaining peace. Israeli forces withdrew later in 1978, turning over positions inside Lebanon along the border to a Lebanese ally, the South Lebanon Army (SLA) under the leadership of Maj. Saad Haddad, thus informally setting up a 12-mile wide "security zone" to protect Israeli territory from crossborder attack.

In 1981 heavily armed forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) occupied large areas of southern Lebanon. Terrorism against the State of Israel increased; The PLO's armed forces used Lebanon as a base to attack Israel with rockets and artillery. PLo soldiers fought with Lebanese forces, and killed many thousands of Lebanese citizens. Due to continued civil war since 1975, Lebanon had no effective central government at the time.

Israel launched an attack against its Northern neighbor Lebanon in 1982. While Israel claimed it needed to defend its Northern border, many independent observers pointed to Lebanon's water resources and arable land.

The 1982 attack was the result of a slow escalation. In the years following the 1948 war, Israel's border with Lebanon was quiet compared to its borders with other neighbors. However, in March 1978, after a series of clashes between Israeli forces in Lebanon, Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon. After passage of Security Council Resolution 425, calling for Israeli withdrawal and the creation of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon[?] peace-keeping force (UNIFIL), Israel eventually withdrew its troops. In July 1981, after additional fighting, President Ronald Reagan's special envoy, Philip C. Habib[?], helped secure a cease-fire between the parties.

In June 1982, Israel invaded the southern half of Lebanon. While a few pro-Israeli Lebanese did at first welcome the Israelis, almost all Lebanese came to resent Israeli occupation. Heavy Israeli casualities and a lack of clear goals led to increasing disquiet among Israelis at the war as well. Within six months after the war began, Israel withdrew from most of the Lebanese territory it occupied but continued to occupy a ten mile wide area of Lebanese territory along the Israeli-Lebanese border; it referred to this area as its "security zone". Israel finally withdrew from the "security zone" in 2000, during the Prime Ministership of Ehud Barak. Israel continues to occupy a small area called "Sheeba Farms", which Lebanon claims to be Lebanese territory but Israel insists is Syrian, not Lebanese, territory.

In August 1982, the PLO withdrew 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 June 1985, Israel withdrew most of its troops from Lebanon, 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.

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