Sanctuary and Survival:
The PLO in Lebanon
Boulder: Westview Press, 1990
by Rex Brynen
5) Battles on Three Fronts (1976-78)
At considerable human and political cost, the PLO had emerged battered but intact from the Lebanese civil war. Yet its struggle for survival in Lebanon was far from over. On the contrary, in the altered constellation of forces produced by the Lebanese conflict the PLO confronted new challenges to its position and activities from Lebanese sources, from Syria, and from Israel.
In the Lebanese arena, the PLO faced difficulties with the Lebanese government and the continuing hostility of the Lebanese Front. To these problems could be added the weakening of the PLO's allies in the Lebanese National Movement, and a mounting crisis of public relations in the south. Yet in many ways such local threats were no longer paramount. As the preceding years had demonstrated, the PLO's military strength had become such that no Lebanese actor could directly confront it without significant external backing.
Instead, the major challenges faced by the PLO in Lebanon were now primarily external in nature, a consequence of the growing regionalization of the Lebanese conflict during the civil war. The most immediate of these was the threat of Syrian hegemony. Damascus had emerged from the Riyadh and Cairo summit meetings as the dominant force in Lebanon and the ADF. Some 30,000 Syrian troops now stood behind the otherwise powerless Sarkis government. Their presence provided Damascus with leverage that could be applied not only in Lebanese affairs, but also against the PLO. On another front, the PLO faced mounting costs in its confrontation with Israel. Israeli political and military intervention in Lebanon would continue to grow; in the south, a war dormant for almost two years would soon re-ignite and burn more furiously than ever.
As a consequence of these threats, the focus of PLO policy gradually shifted. In the wake of the civil war, the neutralization of internal Lebanese challenges (achieved through strategies of restraint, internal alliance and defense) would be increasingly subordinated to efforts to cope with the dangers posed by an ever more hostile regional environment.
The Syrian Challenge
By November 1976 Syria at last achieved under the banner of the ADF what it had failed to achieve through direct military action: the entrance and deployment of its troops in and around the major Palestinian/LNM strongholds of West Beirut, Sidon, and Tripoli. In the ADF's wake, Sa'iqa appeared too, attempting to re-establish its physical and political presence in those areas it had been forced to vacate in June 1976. Zuhayr Muhsin warned that, if "cordial persuasion" failed, the Syrian-sponsored organization would resort to "other methods" to regain its position.1
Soon enough, clashes erupted between Sa'iqa guerrillas and those from other Palestinian organizations: with the DFLP (17-18 November, Sabra camp); Fateh (6 December, Nahr al-Barid); and the PFLP and ALF (16-17 December, Burj al-Barajina and Sabra-Shatila). Fighting also took place on several occasions between pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian factions within the PFLP-GC, fighting in which other fida'iyyin soon became involved.2
Fearing that these and other incidents would escalate into renewed military confrontation with the Syrian Army, the PLO leadership quickly took what measures it could to contain the outbreaks of violence. The Palestine Armed Struggle Command was strengthened, and a special PASC strike force formed to prevent future clashes.3 To the extent that fighting between Sa'iqa and other members of other organizations was a product of grass-roots guerrilla anger at the Syrian role in the civil war, such measures might have had some effect. But while such friction was a contributing factor, few within the PLO saw it as the major cause. Instead, the clashes with Sa'iqa (and similar friction between the PLO and ADF) was viewed by the PLO leadership as forming part of a general pattern of Syrian political and military intimidation of the PLO and its National Movement allies. In a bitter assessment of the situation dated November 26, the PLO leadership stated:
The peace force [ADF] is restricting the movement of our elements and cadres while the isolationist side enjoys many prerogatives, including freedom of movement, of importing weapons, and of dealing with Israel with the aim of creating a buffer region in the south to forbid our presence there.
In spite of this we are still committed to self-control and to the disregard of minor incidents of provocation carried out by forces which came in with the Arab peace force and behind a Palestinian facade to instill terror among the masses.
The statement went on to emphasize the PLO's "commitment to the preservation of the Palestinian cause from liquidation," and to warn that this commitment "can only be efficient if the Palestinian revolution remains strong and remote from any tutelage and vassalage, and from attempts to bring it down to size or liquidate it."4
In issuing the statement, the PLO leadership signaled Damascus that it could be pushed only so far. The PLO did not want continued conflict; on the contrary, the need to establish a working relationship with Syria was seen (particularly by Fateh and the DFLP) as urgent and overwhelming. Quite apart from the strategic importance of coordination with a major confrontation state, the practical security situation in Lebanon-the Palestinians' last sanctuary-demanded it.5 But at the same time there were limits to the degree of external influence the Palestinian movement was prepared to accept: "the leadership of the revolution," the statement had added, "stems from the Palestinian masses and is not concerned by the will of any Arab regime. This leadership represents the independent will and decision of the Palestinian people and it will continue to lead this people and represent its cause and revolution until it achieves its national aims." Whatever their political and ideological differences, Fateh, the DFLP, and PFLP-that is to say, the popular, "Palestinian" organizations of the PLO-stood as one in upholding and defending the independence of Palestinian decision-making.
That the stakes were precisely this was confirmed by subsequent events. Formal reconciliation between the PLO and Syria had supposedly been achieved by a meeting of the PLO Central Council in Damascus, 12-14 December 1976. Zuhayr Muhsin had been restored to his Executive Committee positions. The Council had been addressed by Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad. At its close, the Council's final statement had praised Syria (although not Syrian actions in Lebanon), and "welcomed the return to normal relations between the PLO and Syria, and emphasized the PLO's eagerness to strengthen these relations."6 Despite this, Muhsin and other Sa'iqa leaders issued calls for the replacement of the current PLO leadership before and after the Central Council meeting. Increasingly Syrian spokespersons referred to Palestine as a historical part of Syria, implicitly discrediting both the "Palestinian" nature of the Palestinian people's struggle, and the PLO's right to lead it.7
Pressure on the ground also intensified. In February, there were reports of the forced closure of PLO offices and the harassment of PLO personnel in Syria. In Beirut, Syrian ADF troops bolstered their presence in existing positions near the camps, and forced their way into new ones. Noting the continued friction between his organization and others (especially those of the Rejection Front), Muhsin warned that if the PLO leadership could not keep order in the camps, the ADF would.8 Although a larger confrontation was averted in this case through Saudi pressure and a direct appeal from 'Arafat to Asad, hostility between the Rejection Front and Syrian forces remained high. The PFLP, ALF, and Palestine Liberation Front (newly-formed from the anti-Syrian wing of the PFLP-GC) accused Sa'iqa and the ADF of harassing, or even murdering, their cadres. In June, the Rejection Front threatened to resist the entrance of Sa'iqa personnel into Tyre. Muhsin responded with threats of his own, and Fateh was forced to intervene to prevent further bloodshed.9
Maintaining Independence: The 13th PNC
One arena in which the struggle for Palestinian independent decision-making occurred during this period was that of the 13th session of the Palestine National Council. As the first Council meeting since the civil war approached, Damascus made it clear through Sa'iqa and other channels that there were a number of policies it would like to see endorsed. These included the idea of an independent Palestinian state; greater use of diplomatic means by the PLO; the formation of a strategic alliance between the PLO and Damascus; and improved relations between the PLO and Jordan. To assure support for these positions, and strengthen its influence within the PLO's highest decision-making body generally, Syria pressed for changes in the composition of the PNC. Specifically, Syrian spokesmen called for the enlargement of PNC ranks, the selection of more pro-Syrian and pro-Jordanian candidates, the selection of more delegates from the occupied territories, and a possible end to fida'iyyin representation in the PNC altogether.10
However, when the PNC convened in Cairo (itself a highly significant choice of locale) in March 1977, what emerged was not so much a product of Syrian pressure as an object lesson in Fateh politics. Although the Central Council had agreed to increase PNC membership from 187 to 289, the final list of delegates showed no significant shift in the distribution of power in the assembly. The PNC session itself went on to adopt a 15-point political program with the support of all Palestinian groups, excepting the PFLP. In its most important sections, the program explicitly endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state, and the use of diplomatic as well as military means to achieve it. This was in line with Syrian views, but also with those advanced by Fateh and the DFLP since the 12th PNC in 1974. No mention of Jordan was made one way or the other. This, in balance, was also an outcome favored by Fateh-which had cautiously reactivated communication with the Hashemite regime, but which probably preferred to avoid a potentially divisive debate on the subject all the same. Most notable of all was the coordination evident between Fateh and the Rejection Front organizations, and the decision of the ALF and PFLP-GC to rejoin the Executive Committee. An attempt by Sa'iqa to increase its own representation, directly or through a pro-Syrian independent, was rebuffed. In essence, Fateh had cooperated with Sa'iqa insofar as their views coincided, while simultaneously using Syrian pressure as a catalyst to rebuild Palestinian unity and bring much of the Rejection Front "on side," on Fateh's terms.11
Still, if the assembled delegates needed evidence of the seriousness of the dangers still confronting the PLO in Lebanon, tragic confirmation would be provided even before their deliberations ended. On 16 March 1977, PNC members were shocked to learn that Kamal Junblat had been assassinated in Lebanon, in circumstances that strongly pointed to Syrian involvement.
The Quadripartite Committee and Shtura Agreement
In honor of the PLO's closest and most valuable ally, the 13th session of the Palestine National Council was officially renamed that of the "Martyr Kamal Junblat." Among the fifteen points of the political program it had adopted, two had specifically referred to the Lebanese situation. In point seven, the PNC had saluted the "heroic people of Lebanon"; noted "with pride" their support for the Palestinian struggle; strongly affirmed "the need to strengthen and consolidate the cohesion between all Lebanese nationalist forces and the Palestine revolution"; and reiterated "the PLO's concern for the unity of [Lebanon's] territory and people, its security, independence, sovereignty and Arab character." One paragraph earlier, in point six, the PNC stated:
The Palestine National Council stresses its concern for the right of the Palestine revolution to its presence in Lebanese territory within the framework of the Cairo Agreement and its annexes concluded between the PLO and the Lebanese authorities. It also affirms its insistence on their implementation in spirit and letter, including the application of the provisions on the revolution's [retaining] its arms and on the security of the camps, and rejects any unilateral interpretation of the agreement and its annexes by any quarter, with due respect for the sovereignty and security of Lebanon. 12
The statement reflected the Palestinian movement's deep concern at that time over what, in its eyes, were Syrian-Lebanese attempts to shackle the Palestinian presence in Lebanon. Under the terms of the Riyadh Agreement, the ADF had been charged with ensuring adherence to a Lebanese ceasefire, the withdrawal of armed men, and the collection of heavy weapons from combatants. It had been further mandated, in conjunction with the Quadripartite Committee (consisting of the Saudi, Kuwaiti, Egyptian ambassadors to Lebanon, and Colonel Muhammad al-Khuli, Syrian Air Force chief of security and President Asad's special envoy to Lebanon) to assist the Lebanese government in implementing the Cairo Agreement and its later annexes. Such implementation, including the withdrawal of regular Palestinian (PLA) forces and limitation of arms and ammunition in the refugee camps, was to be accomplished within 45 days.
In practice, matters proceeded less smoothly. Concerned at the vulnerability of a disarmed Palestinian movement and population, Sa'd Sayil informed ADF commander General Ahmad al-Hajj of the PLO's inability to disarm while the threat of an armed Lebanese Front remained. This danger, the PLO argued, was compounded by the increased military activity of Israeli-supported militias in the south. The rightist parties, on the other hand, maintained that they would not give up their weapons unless the Palestinians did so first.13
On November 30, al-Hajj presented a compromise of sorts: heavy weapons would be collected together at a site of each party's choice, and would be jointly guarded there by that militia and the ADF. All sides eventually agreed, but technical disputes over what precisely constituted a "heavy weapon" now occupied the Quadripartite Committee until late December. Finally, a deadline of midnight, 12 January 1977 was set for the collection of arms and departure of regular Palestinian forces. When the moment arrived, weapons were surrendered to the ADF, and the bulk of PLA forces did leave the country by air or land. Still, some PLA troops-and substantial quantities of arms-remained outside the designated sites, under the control of the PLO.14 This, combined with the difficulties encountered in extending state authority and rebuilding the shattered army, led the Lebanese government to request the first of many extensions of the mandate of the ADF.
Attention now turned to the broader question of implementing the Cairo Agreement, as well as the collection of any remaining heavy weapons. Again, serious differences of interpretation arose between the PLO on the one hand, and the Lebanese and Syrian governments on the other. In brief, the "Lebanese interpretation" of the Cairo Agreement and Milkart Protocols held that only those Palestinians resident in Lebanon at the time the agreement was signed in 1969 enjoyed the right to work, reside, and move freely. It further held that the Palestinian military presence in the camps was forbidden, as was the presence of medium or heavy weapons. The sole armed Palestinian presence tolerated would be PASC (at the ratio of 3 lightly-armed personnel per 1,000 camp residents) and a small local defense militia, with a total overall ratio of 7 armed men per 1000 residents. PASC was to be limited to assisting the Lebanese security forces, who had the right to enter the camps at any time. The camp militia could provide some local defense capability, but ultimate responsibility for external defense fell upon the Lebanese Army (and ADF). In the south, the Lebanese interpretation called for PLO military deployment to be restricted to previously agreed border positions.15
This reading of previous agreements was broadly supported by Syria, although Damascus did seem prepared to accept some heavier weaponry in the camps and a greater Palestinian military presence in the south (excess Palestinian weapons would be transported south under Syrian supervision). For their part the Palestinians argued that all registered Palestinian refugees legally in Lebanon should enjoy the Cairo Agreement's guarantees; that internal and external security of the camps was primarily the responsibility of the PLO; and that further negotiations were needed to overcome differences regarding any limitations on arms and ammunition.
These and related issues were taken up in months of discussions between the PLO and President Sarkis, newly-appointed Lebanese Prime Minister Salim al-Huss, and the Quadripartite Committee. Within the committee there was prolonged debate, and ultimately rejection, of the "Lebanese interpretation." It was not able to produce an alternative, however, and on May 26 the (renewed) mandate of the Quadripartite Committee expired without its members having reached consensus on a definitive reading of the Cairo Agreement. The following day the Lebanese Front seized upon this failure to declare that henceforth it would regard the Cairo Agreement as "abrogated and invalid," and the Palestinian presence in Lebanon as illegal.16
The PLO rejected the Lebanese Front's statement, and its accusations that the PLO was unwilling to implement previously-negotiated agreements:
We have expressed readiness to implement the [Cairo] Agreement in theory and we have implemented it in practice. The broadcasts have been stopped, the heavy armaments have been withdrawn, displays of armed force have been ended. We have expressed complete readiness to cooperate with President Sarkis....
We have sought dialogues with the Lebanese Front with a view to putting an end to all misgivings and fears, because what we want is that Lebanon should be independent with full sovereignty over its territory. We want to be an element of stability and security, because that will help us concentrate all our efforts on the occupied territories.
The PLO is making every effort to ensure a secure and independent Lebanon as rapidly as possible, and to promote the rebuilding of the Lebanese Army, as this will help to implement the remaining routine measures of the Cairo Agreement. Furthermore, national conciliation will be a fundamental element in setting Lebanon on the road to stability and security, so that life may return to normal.17
Despite the Lebanese Front's declaration, discussions over the implementation of the Cairo Agreement did not cease. On the contrary, the months of June and early July 1977 saw intensive consultation between the PLO, Lebanon, and Syria. The PLO and the Lebanese government reactivated joint meetings with the Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon (in abeyance since the start of the civil war) to resolve a number of procedural and legal issues regarding Palestinians resident in Lebanon. Then, in mid-July, agreement was reached on reactivating the tripartite (Syrian-Lebanese-Palestinian) committee established during the civil war. On July 21, delegations representing Lebanon (led by Lebanese Army commander Victor Khuri), Syria (led by Syrian Chief-of-Staff Hikmat Shihabi), the ADF (represented by Colonel Sami Khatib, its new Lebanese commander), and the PLO (Salah Khalaf, with Fateh's Sa'd Sayil, Salih Nimr, and Muhammad Ghunaym) assembled at Shtura. They promptly formed two subcommittees, one dealing with the application of the Cairo Agreement to the camps, the other with the south. These held a series of working meetings July 24-25 on the terms and timetable for implementation of the Cairo Agreement. On July 25 the full tripartite committee met again, and announced that a mutually acceptable agreement had been reached.
Although a full text of the Shtura Agreement was never officially released, Lebanese press accounts and statements by Shtura negotiators painted a generally consistent picture of an agreement which reflected Syrian views-hardly surprising, given the close relations between Syria and three of the four parties involved. In its first phase it called for the collection and surrender (once more) of PLO heavy weapons in the refugee camps. This was to be followed by ADF deployment around the perimeter of the camps, with the ADF responsible for external defense "after joint consultation with the PLO," and cooperation between PASC and the Lebanese Internal Security Forces in maintaining public order. In its third phase, the agreement required the PLO to withdraw 12-15km from the border in the south, except in the 'Arqub. A similar withdrawal was to take place by other militias too, thus allowing the deployment of a Lebanese Army brigade along the border zone.18
In contrast to previous agreements, it appeared as if rapid implementation would follow. On July 30, after joint consultations (and the formation of a special PLO security committee to forestall any possible incidents), the ADF began to take up positions around the Palestinian camps. An inventory of camp heavy weapons was then drawn up. During August 5-13, the Palestinians withdrew from their positions in the Sports Stadium near the Sabra-Shatila camps. Some 125 tons of excess weapons and ammunition were surrendered to the ADF and trucked to storage sites, and eighty-five Palestinian offices outside the camps closed.19 The PLO also declared its willingness to abide by the final phase of the accord, and in September provisional agreement was reached with Sarkis on the deployment of the Lebanese Army in the south.
In practice, much of this was intended largely for public (and Syrian) consumption. Behind the scenes the PLO quietly resisted implementation, as it often had previous measures. Only obsolete and surplus weapons were surrendered; the remainder were hidden away against future need. Those offices and positions vacated were soon reoccupied. In the south, the PLO tied any future Palestinian withdrawal to the (unlikely) withdrawal of all rightist militias. Soon, local developments rendered the Shtura Agreement impractical, obsolete, and unenforceable-something the Palestinian movement had known, and probably counted on.
In fact, this-despite protestations to the contrary-had been the whole thrust of PLO policy in Lebanon, and towards Syria, since the Riyadh Agreement: to stall the implementation process in the hope that constant delays, coupled with a changing regional and local environment, would allow the Palestinian movement to retain its arms and freedom of action and resist Syrian demands. The skillful exploitation of political differences within the Quadripartite Committee, and especially the interest that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt had in forestalling complete Syrian dominance of the PLO, played a major part in this. Earlier in the year, their opposition led the committee to override Syrian objections and reject the "Lebanese interpretation" of the Cairo Agreement. Now, the Shtura Agreement was approached in a similar manner: it represented some progress, was the best that could be achieved under present circumstances, and provided further breathing space. This, and not pleasure with its specific provisions, was the reason why it was endorsed by the Palestinian leadership. In essence, the PLO had adopted a deliberate policy of inertia.20
As it turned out, the Palestinian gamble paid off. The Shtura Agreement marked the onset of improved Syrian-Palestinian relations. With the election of Menachem Begin as Israeli prime minister in May 1977, increasing levels of activity by Israel and Israeli-backed militias in the south, and especially the 1978 Israeli invasion (described below), Damascus grew less and less willing to exert its fullest pressure on the PLO. This in turn accelerated a worsening of relations between Damascus and its erstwhile allies (excluding Sulayman Franjiyya) in the Lebanese Front.
Syrian-PLO rapprochement would be sealed, however, by a very different event: Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat's November 1977 visit to Jerusalem. To the leadership of the PLO it appeared that Cairo was on the verge of abandoning the Palestinian cause in pursuit of a separate US-sponsored peace with Israel. Syria's Hafiz al-Asad was no less alarmed at the prospect of Egypt-the most powerful of the confrontation states-defecting from Arab ranks, and hence leaving Syria alone to face Israel across the occupied Golan Heights. In December the PLO and Syria, together with Libya, Algeria, Iraq, and South Yemen, met in the Libyan capital to establish the "Steadfastness and Confrontation Front" (jabhat al-sumud wa al-tasaddi) in opposition to Egyptian policies. With this, the opponents of June 1976 were once more strategic allies.
Back to the Front: The War in the South, 1976-78
During the Lebanese civil war, Israel's quiet extension of its influence in south Lebanon had gone largely unchallenged by the PLO, Syria, or the Lebanese National Movement. Faced with more severe and pressing challenges elsewhere, the Palestinian command had effectively frozen cross-border operations in 1976.21 This temporary diminution of the Palestinian presence in the south was soon exploited by Israel to increase its backing for local rightist militias. In October 1976 these militias took advantage of Syria's offensives against the Joint Forces to the north to seize control of the southern town of Marj'ayun, and to press forward attacks against Bint Jubayl and al-Khiyam.
To combat this and to escape control by Syrian ADF units elsewhere in the country, the PLO had begun to reinforce its positions in the south soon after the Riyadh summit conference. Fighting between the Joint Forces and the rightist militias soon erupted, and as it escalated so too did the extent of Israeli backing for the latter. In the political vacuum of the south, a direct confrontation emerged between Israel and its proxies on one side, and the PLO and National Movement on the other. In this contest Syria found itself on the horns of a dilemma: whilst it sought a weakening of Israeli influence in the south and hence favored the Joint Forces, it also feared that intensification of the fighting would invite even greater Israeli intervention. Attempts to send the ADF south had been met with loud Israeli protests.22 Because of this, Syria allowed the PLO to move fighters (including al-Sa'iqa personnel) and material south, but (with a few notable exceptions) did not provide direct military support. Hoping that a reassertion of Lebanese authority in the area would stabilize the situation, Syria also strongly supported efforts by the Sarkis administration to deploy the Lebanese Army or Internal Security Force in the south.
New rightist offensives were launched in January and February of 1977, leading to the capture of Khiyam and further advances towards Bint Jubayl. In March a sustained effort was made to link the eastern border enclave (commanded by Lebanese Army Major Sa'd Haddad) with those in the central and western sectors (then commanded by Major Sami Shidyaq of the Phalange) into a contiguous zone along the Israeli-Lebanese border. In response, the Joint Forces launched a major counter-offensive early in April, recapturing Khiyam and pressing hard on Marj'ayun. At this point Syria, concerned at possible Israeli reactions to a major defeat of Haddad's forces, prevailed upon 'Arafat to declare a unilateral ceasefire April 10.
Fighting in the south rekindled in July 1977 on the eve of Lebanese-Syrian-Palestinian negotiations, a timing which many saw as a military manifestation of Israel's publicly-stated concern over the negotiations. Despite another unilateral ceasefire announced by Salah Khalaf, fighting was reported west of Bint Jubayl, and in the 'Arqub. Israeli intervention grew too, culminating in the penetration of an IDF armored column a short distance into Lebanese territory in mid-September. Finally, after a series of US diplomatic contacts with Israel, Lebanon, and Syria, a ceasefire was announced September 26. Although not a formal party to this (a legitimation of the PLO that Israel was unprepared to accept), a parallel ceasefire was announced by Palestinian forces.23
With this, political efforts once more focussed on implementation of the Shtura Agreement. Conflicting pressures converged upon the mainstream PLO leadership.
Lebanon, or more specifically the Sarkis administration, continued to press for a Palestinian withdrawal from the south, and the deployment there of the Lebanese Army. When little progress was made on this (in part because of difficulties in rebuilding an army capable of the task) the Lebanese government also broached the possibility of UN forces in the south.
Syria was also anxious to secure a stabilization of the southern situation, and hence backed Sarkis in his calls for rapid implementation of the Shtura Agreement. When the idea of a UN role was brought up, however, Damascus was much less enthusiastic, fearing that such a force would diminish the role of the ADF and hence Syrian influence in the country. The net effect was to cause Damascus to press 'Arafat even harder to fulfill the PLO's commitments.
Israel, meanwhile, was adding provisos of its own to the southern issue. Specifically, the new Begin government insisted on three conditions for its acceptance of the Shtura Agreement: first, that the PLO withdraw ten kilometers north and west of the Litani River (i.e., more 15 km from the border at the closest point); second, that Haddad's militia assume security responsibility in the border zones it occupied; and third, that the "Good Fence" border crossings into the Haddad zone remain open. To underline the seriousness of its demands and further increase the pressure on the Palestinian movement and Lebanese government to comply, the IDF responded to two cross-border shelling incidents against Nahariya in November with massive artillery and air attacks against villages in the south. Over two hundred persons were killed or wounded in these, most of them Lebanese civilians in the village of 'Aziyya.
The bombardment of 'Aziyya had its effect, galvanizing even greater Lebanese pressure on the PLO to withdraw. This came not only from its usual sources-the Lebanese government, the Lebanese Front-but now also from leading figures in the Sunni and Shi'i political leaderships. Within days, the "Front for Safeguarding the South" (consisting of southern Shi'ite Deputies) and the "Islamic Alliance" (Sa'ib Salam, Rashid Karami, Taqi al-Din al-Sulh, Rashid al-Sulh, and 'Abdullah Yafi) had issued a joint call for implementation of the Shtura Agreement. This was echoed by figures as otherwise opposed as Imam Musa al-Sadr and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Shi'i za'im Kamil al-As'ad-a clear indication of the concern of the Shi'a community and of the growing concern amongst even one-time Palestinian allies over the Israeli-imposed cost of the Palestinian military presence.
Although the Fateh/PLO leadership was willing to ease tension by implementing-or giving the appearance of implementing-the Shtura Agreement, its political ability to do so was sharply limited. The PFLP, PLF, PSF, and ALF of the Rejection Front were strongly opposed to either withdrawal or the cessation of cross-border operations, a view shared by many Fateh field commanders and fighters.24 The Lebanese National Movement was equally anxious not to surrender their positions in the south and hence be restricted to ADF-controlled areas. External encouragement for such a stand came from Iraq, whose relations with Fateh had deteriorated as PLO-Syrian relations had improved.
The PLO's official signals throughout 1977-78 were thus mixed. Palestinian spokespersons variously emphasized that the PLO was willing to implement the Shtura Agreement, but that it would not withdraw from the south; that it would withdraw; that it would withdraw provided Israel and the rightist militias did the same; that it would withdraw only to those positions it was entitled to under the 1969 Cairo Agreement; that it was anxious not to provide pretexts for further Israeli intervention, but that it would continue the armed struggle.25 In part, such statements comprised a deliberate effort to satisfy all while conceding to none. But they also reflected both the contradictory pressures being exerted on the PLO leadership, and divisions with Fateh itself over Lebanese policy.
As Israeli pressure increased, the PLO's position hardened; in the face of Israeli intimidation, it became difficult to back down.26 Indeed, in the wake of Sadat's Jerusalem initiative the PLO had a strong incentive to escalate military action in and from south Lebanon, in an effort to underscore the centrality of the Palestinians and the PLO in the Arab-Israeli conflict. As Lebanon entered 1978, the situation in the south seemed as dangerous as ever.
On 11 March 1978 a group of Fateh guerrillas, having infiltrated Israel by sea, hijacked a bus on the coastal highway 55kms north of Tel Aviv. With the passengers as hostages, they headed south. After a running gun-battle most of the way the bus was finally stopped a few kilometers outside the city. Israeli casualties were high (32 dead, 82 wounded), and overwhelmingly civilian. The government claimed that the guerrillas had left from Damur or Tyre in Lebanon, and accelerated a military build-up already under way along the Israeli-Lebanese border.27
Three days later, up to twenty thousand Israeli troops invaded south Lebanon. "Operation Stone of Wisdom" (or "Operation Litani," in its expanded version) was, in part, retaliation for the coastal highway attack. It was also a product of mounting Israeli concern about the Palestinian presence in south Lebanon and the increasingly precarious position of Haddad's militia, who had a few days earlier lost an important position at Marun al-Ra's to the Joint Forces. As the IDF entered Lebanon on a broad front, clearing the area before them of all fida'iyyin, the Israeli government emphasized the need to create a ten kilometer cordon sanitaire in the border zone.
Israeli plans were predicated on the assumption that the scale of the coastal highway attack provided sufficient pretext for a major and sustained operation, an operation in which the US and the UN would not interfere. But the Begin government had miscalculated its diplomatic freedom of action. Stung by the size of the Israeli invasion, the large numbers of Lebanese and Palestinian civilian casualties that resulted, and the potential implications for US prestige of a lengthy Israeli occupation of south Lebanon, Washington's initial ambivalence quickly changed to calls for a rapid withdrawal of Israeli troops and the deployment of a UN peace-keeping force in their place. The result was United Nations Security Council Resolution 425 of 19 March 1978, calling for "strict respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its territorially recognized boundaries" and an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. Further, the Council decided "in the light of the request of the government of Lebanon, to establish immediately under its authority a United Nations interim force for southern Lebanon for the purpose of confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restoring international peace and security and assisting the government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area."28 In practice, the proposed deployment of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) actually provoked an expansion of the IDF's military campaign: if Israel was going to be forced to withdraw and accept a UN buffer force, it wanted the latter deployed as far north as possible. Consequently, it was only after Israeli forces had extended their control to the banks of the Litani that Israel announced a ceasefire March 21.
For the PLO, Operation Litani had come as no surprise. A general military alert had been declared March 11, and many civilians had been evacuated from the southern camps in anticipation. When the attack did come, the bulk of the Joint Forces slipped away before it, holding only those positions around the city of Tyre. Nevertheless the invasion posed a grave challenge to the Palestinian leadership, politically as well as militarily. In the face of massive Israeli military superiority, the Joint Forces could not be expected to indefinitely hold Tyre-a base of considerable importance, around which three large Palestinian refugee camps were grouped. Moreover, to retreat from all of the area south of the Litani would place the PLO entirely under the sway of the ADF, an almost equally unpalatable alternative. Yet to accept a ceasefire with Israel would, as ever, be seen as a surrender. To this were added particular concerns regarding the proposed UNIFIL deployment, and especially the fear that the UN force would seal-off the Israeli border to the guerrillas. For these reasons the PLO initially rejected either a ceasefire or the deployment of UNIFIL, arguing that it would constitute "an entrenchment against, and occupation of, southern Lebanon." More out of convenience than conviction, it also echoed Syrian concerns that the deployment of a UN force might undermine the mandate of the ADF.29
Over the next few days, military realities forced a change in Palestinian and Syrian thinking. Within the PLO, concern grew about the possible collapse of the Joint Forces in the Tyre salient and the consequent loss of the important city.30 In retrospect, it seems that the IDF was deterred from launching a full-scale assault on Tyre by the heavy casualties and adverse international reaction it would inevitably incur. To the beleaguered field commanders of the Joint Forces, outnumbered and outgunned before the largest Israeli attack on the south in history, this was not so clear. No military relief was in sight: Syria withheld its forces from combat for fear of escalation, confining itself to permitting the transit of supplies and a few hundred Iraqi "volunteers" to the PLO in the south. Even this ended March 24 when, amid growing Syrian and Lebanese pressure on the PLO to accept a ceasefire, the Lebanese government announced a ban on further resupply.
Under these circumstances, the PLO's official attitude towards UNIFIL and a ceasefire turned to one of deliberate indifference. Because of fears by Lebanon and Kuwait (then on the Security Council) that any explicit rejection of the Palestinian armed presence would spur Palestinian opposition, Security Council Resolution 425 had not mentioned the PLO. As a result, Yasir 'Abd Rabbu of the PLO Executive Committee could now argue that the resolution did not concern the Palestinian movement. On March 25 Faruq Qaddumi expressed a willingness to cooperate with the United Nations in bringing about an Israeli withdrawal. Then on March 28 (one day after an appeal from UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim) 'Arafat met with UNIFIL commander General Emmanuel Erskine (of Ghana) and stated the PLO's acceptance of a south Lebanese ceasefire. This acceptance was later transmitted directly to Waldheim by 'Arafat on April 17, when the two met to discuss the issue in Beirut.31
The Politics of UNIFIL
That same day, Fateh units under the command of Khalil al-Wazir arrested more than one hundred Fateh guerrillas in the south. This act was promptly denounced by Fateh Revolutionary Council member Muhammad Da'ud 'Awda (Abu Da'ud), and by the official press in Iraq. According to Lebanese press accounts, the detained guerrillas had recently come to south Lebanon from Iraq, and were when arrested about to embark on military operations inside the UNIFIL zone. The whole incident was said to mark the development within Fateh, and within the Palestinian movement as a whole, of grave divisions over UNIFIL and the south Lebanon issue.
The actual politics of the situation were even more complex. There was major criticism within the PLO of the ceasefire and the decision to accept, even cooperate in, the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces. Statements by the Sarkis administration to the effect that Security Council Resolution 425 superseded the Cairo Agreement within the UNIFIL area of operations served to sharpen this dissent. In March, an internal PFLP circular called for the maintenance of daily attacks against Israeli forces, resistance to any attempt by the Lebanese government to take over Palestinian positions, and opposition to UNIFIL deployment other than to supervise an Israeli withdrawal. The PFLP lambasted 'Arafat for "double-dealing" and weakness. Similarly, in a statement issued April 10 the Rejection Front argued that acceptance of a ceasefire undermined the fundamental purpose of the Palestinian revolution, and that consequently the decision was binding only on those forces favoring "capitulation."32
Yet, as a close reading of these and other statements suggested, there was far more at stake here than a debate over UNIFIL. In the aftermath of Sadat's November 1977 visit to Jerusalem, south Lebanon had become an issue on which a much broader battle was being fought for control over the political direction of the PLO. Proponents of the decision saw cooperation with UNIFIL as opening the way for increased international legitimacy, and as an opportunity to demonstrate the Palestinians' reliability as a negotiating partner-in short, as a significant potential diplomatic victory. Opposing the UN, they argued, would severely damage Palestinian prestige. Critics (including some within Fateh) responded that the presence of UNIFIL might seal off the Israeli-Lebanese border. If so, the PLO would be faced with the choice of either clashing with the UN, or surrendering the armed struggle for doubtful gains in the diplomatic arena. Further, they argued, the manner in which the ceasefire had been accepted, and in particular 'Arafat's personal assurances to Erskine and Waldheim, were prime examples of precisely what was wrong with the whole decision-making structure of the PLO. Externally, the issue was fully exploited by Iraq, which used it as further ammunition in its conflict with both Syria and the PLO/Fateh leadership. The bulk of those arrested had come from Iraq; within Fateh, the incident was seen by many not so much a dispute over UNIFIL or with Abu Da'ud, but as an attempt by Iraq and the Baghdad-based Fateh renegade Abu Nidal to embarrass 'Arafat, undermine the ceasefire, and gain control over the al-'Asifa command in the south.33
The importance of the issues at stake prompted the mainstream PLO/Fateh leadership to take further measures to prevent ceasefire violations, by force if necessary. In April, Fateh security personnel claimed to have aborted an assassination attempt against UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim during his visit to Lebanon. In late May, there were reports that a special Fateh force of five hundred guerrillas under the command of 'Arafat loyalist Major 'Azmi Sughayyir had been formed to assure the ceasefire. In July and August, Fateh clashed with both the PLF and ALF over these groups' harassment of UNIFIL.
The Fateh clampdown and similar measures to insure the ceasefire provoked a storm of protest from every Palestinian organization other than al-Sa'iqa. On May 18, one day after the Tyre arrests, the PFLP, ALF, PSF, PLF, and DFLP submitted to the Fateh Central Committee a memorandum outlining their views on the current situation. In it they accused the Fateh leadership of exerting hegemony over Palestinian decision-making. They also complained about what they saw as Fateh's attitude towards the LNM, suggesting that "certain parties in the resistance" were "meddling with the National Movement and setting up delusory and popular organizations to influence it from within and to control its political decision-making," thus damaging the PLO-LNM alliance. The memorandum called instead for the National Movement to assume a leadership role, with Palestinian support, in "the struggle to liberate the Lebanese territory occupied by the Zionist enemy in the south, and to achieve its nationalist and democratic goals." Finally, the signatories emphasized the need to escalate Palestinian armed struggle "inside and outside the occupied territories."34
Nevertheless, Fateh's position with regard to UNIFIL prevailed. On May 21, 'Arafat met with UN Undersecretary-General Roberto Guyer in Damascus and confirmed his earlier promise to Waldheim that the PLO would facilitate UNIFIL's task. He also promised that the PLO would refrain from infiltrating fighters into the UNIFIL area, and that it would refrain from attacking Israel from south Lebanon. That same day the PLO Central Council met and endorsed UNIFIL's deployment as part of the process of securing an Israeli withdrawal from the South.
In part the Council's endorsement was due to Fateh's greater weight, and the support it received on this issue from Syria. But it also had a great deal to do with the working relationship that gradually evolved between UNIFIL and the PLO. After a clash between Fateh and French peace-keepers in Tyre in early May, the UN force accepted the Palestinian argument that UNIFIL's mandate to secure an Israeli withdrawal did not entitle (or require) it to enter areas which had remained under the control of the Joint Forces. Only on this basis was the establishment of UNIFIL facilities in Tyre eventually accepted. In his meeting with 'Arafat in Damascus, Guyer confirmed that UNIFIL would allow the supply of food, water and medicine to Palestinian units within its area of operation. In practice, this meant that the PLO was allowed to maintain six groups of positions within the UN deployment area, including a group of strategic deployments in the so-called "Iron Triangle" overlooking the Bint Jubayl-Tyre road. These, the PLO argued, had either remained under the Joint Forces' control during the Litani campaign or were allowed the PLO by "historic" (i.e., Cairo Agreement) right. Mutual arrangements were worked out between PLO and UNIFIL commanders whereby these positions could be supplied and fighters could be rotated in and out of them, although the PLO was not supposed to increase its field strength (totaling around 140 guerrillas) in these areas, expand them, or launch military operations from them. Any armed men or uniformed men attempting to infiltrate through the UN zone would be apprehended, disarmed, and released into the custody of a liaison officer in Tyre.
Map 5.1: South Lebanon, 1978-82
Some sources of PLO-UNIFIL tension did remain, particularly the issue of guerrilla infiltration into the UNIFIL zone. Over time, the PLO would establish up to 450 guerrillas in more than 30 positions inside the UNIFIL area of operations. But for the most part, the PLO was officially cooperative. As a modus vivendi developed between the fida'iyyin and the UN peacekeepers, virtually all Palestinian groups agreed, publicly or privately, to cooperate with the United Nations and avoid future incidents.35
This attitude stood in sharp contrast to that evinced by Haddad's militia and his Israeli sponsors. The initial stages of Israel's withdrawal, and the deployment in those areas of UN troops, had proceeded relatively smoothly in April. When the time came for the IDF to make its final withdrawal from the remaining ten kilometer security belt along the Israeli-Lebanese border, however, UNIFIL was not permitted to take up positions within the border enclave. Instead, the entire area was handed over by Israel to the control of its local Lebanese proxy, Major Sa'd Haddad (see Map 5.1). The IDF continued to operate, as necessary and at will, in this area. In 1979 Haddad declared it to be "Free Lebanon," virtually seceding from the rest of the country. Over the next few years, it would be Haddad's militia (the "de facto forces," in UN terminology) that would account for the bulk of attacks on the 6,000-strong UN peace-keeping force.36
1. Zuhayr Muhsin, Monday Morning, 6-12 December 1976.
2. ARR, 16-30 November 1976, p. 712, 1-15 December 1976, pp. 743-744; 16-31 December 1976, p. 722.
3. Voice of Palestine, 8 December 1976 (FBIS); ARR, 16-31 December 1976, p. 771.
4. WAFA, 28 November 1976, in AWW, 4 December 1976, pp. 9-10.
5.Abu Iyad, My Home, My Land, p. 198 comments on the physical threat directly felt from the Syrian ADF by many Palestinian leaders at this time.
6. Statement issued by PLO Central Council, in AWW, 18 December 1976, p. 19.
7. ARR, 1-15 December 1976, p. 743; Zuhayr Muhsin quoted by SNA, (Riyadh) 28 January 1977 (FBIS). According to Salah Khalaf, President Asad flatly told Khalil al-Wazir, Nimr Salih and himself in an April 1977 meeting that because he doubted their "seriousness and capacity to lead," he had decided "not to take the PLO leadership into account" any longer. Abu Iyad, My Home, My Land, p. 200.
8. Zuhayr Muhsin, quoted by QNA, (Doha) 15 February 1977; Voice of Palestine, 12, 13 February 1977, SNA, 13 February 1977 (FBIS); MECS 1976-77, p. 194; Cobban, The Palestinian Liberation Organization, p. 83.
9. INA, 11 June 1977 (FBIS); ARR, 1-15 June 1977; Damascus Domestic Service, 15 February 1977 (FBIS).
10. al-Ba'th (Damascus), 24 November 1976, in MECS 1976-77, p. 195.
11. Political statement issued by the 13th session of the Palestine National Council, WAFA, 21 March 1977, in IDP 1977, pp. 348-349. For details of the session, see MECS 1976-77, pp. 182-184, 195; Cobban, The Palestinian Liberation Organization, pp. 85-86. Some Rejection Front delegates openly condemned Syrian policy during the PNC session, and a surprisingly large number of Council members refused to support the otherwise routine re-election of (pro-Syrian) Khalid al-Fahum as PNC Speaker (172 votes were cast in his favor, 69 against, 21 abstentions, and 27 members were absent).
12. WAFA, 21 March 1977, in IDP 1977, pp. 348-349.
13. The strongest position in this regard was that adopted by Etienne Saqr of the Guardians of the Cedars, who demanded that all Palestinians be completely disarmed and expelled from Lebanon. (During the civil war, his militia had called upon each Lebanese to "kill one Palestinian," so that "not one will remain.") On January 24, the Lebanese Front as a whole adopted as its official policy to "liberate all occupied Lebanese territory and to try to distribute the Palestinians residing in Lebanon among the members states of the Arab League, each according to its [absorbtive] capacity." al-Amal, 10 December 1976, p. 4 (JPRS); statement signed by Camille Chamoun, Sulayman Franjiyya, Pierre Jumayyil, and Father Sharbil Qassis, Beirut Domestic Service, 23 January 1977 (FBIS).
14. Beirut Domestic Service, 12 January 1977, Voice of Lebanon, 12 January 1977 (FBIS); ARR, 1-15 January 1977, pp. 10-11.
15. MECS 1976-77, pp. 514-516, 521-522. Within the PLO leadership, the "Lebanese interpretation" was seen as a cover for, and product of, Syrian pressure. Interview with Salah Khalaf, 24 January 1987.
16. al-Nahar, 28 May 1977; the LNM's response (supporting the PLO and condemning the Front for its attitude) was issued a few days later, al-Nahar, 1 June 1977, in IDP 1977, pp. 371-373.
17. Faruq Qaddumi in Shu'un Filastiniyya 67 (June 1977): 51-52.
18. MECS 1976-77, p. 517, 520, 522; Beirut Domestic Service, 25 July 1977 (FBIS); Middle East Reporter, 25 July 1977, p. 4 (henceforth MER); Khalidi, Conflict and Violence in Lebanon, pp. 126-127. The accord appeared to be a softening of the publicly-stated "Lebanese interpretation" of the Cairo Agreement in a number of respects, most notably its rejection of numerical (ratio) limits on Palestinian forces in the camps; the greater role invisaged for PASC; recognition of the PLO's role in camp defence; and the rights of Palestinians in Lebanon.
19. The weapons collected included 12 cannons, 36 mortars, 40 anti-tank weapons, 9 anti-aircraft guns, 63 rockets, and 95 machine guns and other light arms. ARR, 1-15 August 1977, pp. 638-639; Beirut Domestic Service, 30 July, 3 August 1977 (FBIS); MER, 11 August 1977, p. 5. The PLO security committee was headed by Nimr Salih (Fateh), Yasir 'Abd Rabbu (DFLP), and 'Abd al-Rahim Ahmad (ALF). Voice of Palestine, 26 July 1977 (FBIS).
20. Interview with Ahmad Sidqi al-Dajani, Cairo, 9 December 1986; interview with Salah Khalaf, 24 January 1987.
21. Col. Sa'id Musa Muragha, in New York Times, 2 September 1976, p. 2.
22. In January 1977 a Syrian ADF battalion did deploy as far south as Nabatiyya; it was withdrawn the following month.
23. ARR, 16-30 September 1977, pp. 779-783. For details of developments in south Lebanon, see Hamizrachi, South Lebanon Security Belt, pp. 77-155.
24. ARR, 1-31 October 1977, p. 877; PFLP statement to Baghdad Domestic Service, 26 September 1977, ALF statement to INA, 1 November 1977 (FBIS).
25. Salah Khalaf, QNA, 8 November 1977; MER, 14 November 1977; Yasir 'Arafat, Voice of Palestine (clandestine), 14 November 1977, Voice of Palestine (Cairo), 27 September 1977 (FBIS). The principle of "equal withdrawals" was the most official of these positions, agreed upon at joint meeting of the PLO and LNM leaderships. Given Israel's interests in the south and Haddad's claim to be an indigenous militia incapable of "withdrawal," it was no more likely to occur than the others.
26. According to Karim Pakradouni (then acting both as Sarkis' political advisor and as a member of the Phalange politbureau), the PLO now withdrew points it had previously reached agreement upon with the Lebanese government. Pakradouni, La Paix Manquée, pp. 118-119.
27. Lebanese Premier Salim al-Huss was quick to deny any Lebanese involvement. Beirut Domestic Service, 12 March 1978 (FBIS).
28. Bjørn Skogmo, UNIFIL: International Peacekeeping in Lebanon, 1978-1988, (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1989), pp. 7-16. Terms of reference for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were subsequently endorsed by UN Security Council resolution 426 (19 March 1978): to "confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restore international peace and security, and assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area"; and to "use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting and to ensure that its area of operation is not utilized for hostile activitities of any kind." Report of the Secretary General on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 425 (1978) UN Doc. S/12611.
29. Salim al-Za'nun (Fateh, deputy PNC Speaker) quoted by QNA, 19 March 1978 (FBIS).
30. Salah Khalaf hinted at the possibility of the city's fall in comments to QNA, 21 March 1978 (FBIS). For a similar view from within the PFLP see "South Lebanon Explodes," MERIP Reports 66 (April 1978): 4, 6.
31.'Abd Rabbu to INA, 22 March 1978, Qaddumi to Damascus Domestic Service, 26 March 1978 (FBIS); for an account of the Waldheim-'Arafat meeting based on its unpublished minutes, see Khalidi, Conflict and Violence in Lebanon, p. 135. According to (UN Undersecretary-General) Brian Urquhart, A Life in Peace and War (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), pp. 190, 192 the PLO resisted efforts to deploy the Lebanese army in the south at this stage.
32. PFLP statement carried in al-Siyasa, (Kuwait) 10-12 June 1978, in AWW, 17 June 1978, pp. 8-9; Rejection Front statement to INA, 10 April 1978, Rejection Front-DFLP joint statement reported by Reuters, 4 May 1978 (FBIS); interview with Samih Abu Kuwayk, Damascus, 17 December 1986.
33. Interviews with Khalil al-Wazir, 30 December 1986; Dr. Nabil Sha'th, 8 January 1987. It was reported at the time that the split with Fateh pitted Abu Da'ud, Salah Khalaf and Nimr Salih, Fateh military commanders Colonel Abu Musa and Colonel Khalid al-'Amla, and Naji 'Allush of the Writers' Union, against the Fateh conservatives including 'Arafat, Khalil al-Wazir, and Khalid al-Hasan. Some of the former group came to Abu Da'ud's formal defence not so much out of support for his actions, but from the fear that any purge of his supporters might presage a general purge of the Fateh "left." And, in the end, the bonds which united the senior Fateh leadership prevailed with a very public show of solidarity during guerilla graduation ceremony a few days later. Abu Da'ud was removed from several of his positions, but was later partially rehabilitated within the movement. Naji Allush moved to Baghdad, where he first cooperated with Abu Nidal and later formed his own short-lived organization. Two of those arrested by "Force 17" (Fateh's special security unit) were less fortunate. They were later executed for extortion and the arms offences, a punishment which the Iraqi-controlled Voice of Palestine radio station charged was politically motivated. Voice of Palestine (clandestine), 19 June 1978, Voice of Palestine (Baghdad), 20 June 1978 (FBIS).
34. Memorandum submitted to the Fateh Central Committee, al-Thawra mustamirra (Beirut), 27 May 1978, p. 4, in IDP 1978, pp. 466-468.
35. Central Council communique, WAFA, 21 May 1978, p. 1; interviews with Sabir Muhi al-Din (PFLP), Damascus, 18 December 1986; Dr. Jamil Hilal (DFLP), 20 December 1986; 'Abd al-Rahim Ahmad (ALF), Amman, 28 December 1986; Sa'id Musa Muragha, Damascus, 10 January 1987. For details of UNIFIL-PLO relations, see Skogmo, UNIFIL, pp. 41-56; Nathan A. Pelcovits, Peacekeeping on Arab-Israeli Fronts: Lessons from the Sinai and Lebanon, SAIS Papers in International Affairs 3, (Boulder: Westview Press, 1984), pp. 21-22; 102-103.
36. In the first six months of its operation (April-September 1978) UNIFIL suffered nine attacks from "armed elements" (Palestinian or LNM forces), resulting in three UN deaths. In the first six months of 1979 there were only four such exchanges of fire; in the first half of 1980, no direct attacks and only eight "close firings" were reported. During the period January 1979-June 1980 some 200 infiltration attempts by 1,435 fighters were turned back by UNIFIL. In contrast, in the first half of 1980 there were six direct attacks and 143 close firings upon UNIFIL by the "de facto forces" (Haddad), resulting in five UN deaths. In the first half of 1981 there were two clashes and 236 close firings. Pelcovits, Peacekeeping on Arab-Israeli Fronts, pp. 21-22; 102-103.