Walid Phares is professor of comparative politics and Middle East studies at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of eight books, the latest of which is Lebanese Christian Nationalism (Lynne Rienner, 1995).
Hardly a week goes by without some news of violence in or around Israel's "security zone" in the very south of Lebanon. The story always seems to be the same: Hizbullah, Lebanon's leading Islamist group, attacks either the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) or its ally, the South Lebanon Army (SLA). Sometimes -- as in July 1993 and April 1996 -- this violence provokes large-scale Israeli military retaliation and, with it, an international crisis.
But this conventional view of south Lebanon misses a key fact: the security zone is more than just a buffer zone for Israel. It also serves as the kernel of a free Lebanon, a Lebanon rid of Syrian domination. As such, this strip of land may be the most important region of the entire country.
HISTORY OF THE SECURITY ZONE
Ten miles wide and sixty miles long, the security zone stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Hermon Mountains. It separates Israel's Upper Galilee from the two Lebanese Shi'i centers, the Bekaa Valley in the east and Nabatiah and Tyre in the west. The zone also connects the Jewish state to the Christian heartland of Mount Lebanon. It includes two cities, the politico-military capital of Marj 'Uyun and the socioeconomic center of Jezzine. In winter, the enclave's population rarely exceeds 140,000 people; by early spring, the number rises to 180,000, as families return from the winter in Beirut. The zone boasts a small seaport at Nakura, a British-built airfield at Marj 'Uyun, and the Litani River (one of Lebanon's major waterways). A mix of Christians (Maronites, Melkites, Orthodox), Muslims (Shi'a), and Druze inhabit the area.
Although commonly thought of as a purely Israeli innovation, the security zone actually has roots in Lebanon's civil war. Started in April 1975, that war pitted the Christian militias of Mount Lebanon against a Muslim-Palestinian alliance supported by Syria. By mid-1976, or two years before the first Israeli incursion into Lebanon, a great deal of what has since come to be known as ethnic cleansing had taken place: all major Christian demographic centers south of Beirut had disappeared, as had Palestinian camps inside some Christian areas. Three pockets of Christian resistance to the forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) emerged in the Alma and Ain Ebel (eastern) and Qolaia (western) border areas. Massacres in 1976 by PLO forces in the Christian towns of Damur (February) and Aishie (November) prompted Christians in the far south to look to Israel for help. "We had no other choice," say the founders of the local resistance movement.1 Delegations from the encircled pockets crossed the frontier, and Israel's Labor government agreed to send weapons, ammunition, and supplies.
THE "GOOD FENCE"
The Christians won a number of privileges from the Israeli authorities, such as the ability to use Israeli medical, transportation, and communication facilities; purchase food, fuel, and potable water;2 and sell agricultural products at advantageous rates.3 The Likud governments that held power most of the time between 1977 and 1992 strengthened and extended the so-called good-fence policy.
Backed by Israel, south Lebanon's Christians succeeded in stopping the PLO-Muslim offensive; but their enclaves were militarily not viable. In the beginning of 1977, Christian units of the regular Lebanese army reinforced the enclaves. Major Sa'd Haddad, a Catholic officer appointed by the Ministry of Defense in charge of the regular units in the area, took over the Christian resistance in the enclaves. In 1978, in the course of "Operation Litani River," Israeli forces moved inside Lebanese territories to push the Palestinians to forty kilometers north of the international border. When taking their forces out of Lebanon, the Israelis helped Christian villagers establish a militarily viable territorial continuum between their villages all along the border.
In April 1979, after Beirut suspended its funding of government troops stationed in the enclave, Haddad declared the new zone to be "Free Lebanon" and postulated Beirut as his capital, pending its "liberation." The major carefully avoided any local separatist sentiments, preferring not to alienate the militias under Bashir Gemayel, which had already carved out a Christian enclave in East Beirut. At this time, "Free Lebanon" had only marginal importance in Lebanese domestic politics.
Israel's "Operation Peace of Galilee" of mid-1982 dramatically changed circumstances. For almost two years following that offensive, the Likud government sought a peace treaty with Christians of the north, and especially with Gemayel, to the virtual exclusion of its faithful southern allies. With the collapse of these efforts in February 1984, Jerusalem decided to quit the Lebanese quagmire and retract its troops, though not to the international border. In April 1985, a new security zone came into existence, comprising the old area under Haddad plus a few miles to the north, as well as the entire Jezzine district. (see maps). To protect this area, the IDF officially financed and trained the newly created "South Lebanon Army."
Even as the security belt acquired more land, its purpose narrowed; it now existed to fulfill Israel's immediate security needs, not Lebanese nationalist priorities. Successive Israeli governments vowed not to return to Lebanon's north and saw the zone strictly in terms of security considerations. Also, the SLA, commanded after Haddad's death in February 1984 by Brigadier General Antoine Lahad, had less of a political mission than its predecessor. From a Lebanese Christian perspective, these changes constituted a step backwards.
IRANIAN AND SYRIAN GOALS
Lebanon today is the battleground for two major alliances. One side consists of Syria, whose thirty thousand troops occupy 75 percent of Lebanon's land; Iran, which both backs Damascus and finances its own groups (especially Hizbullah); the Lebanese government, headed since October 1992 by financier Rafiq al-Hariri; and various leaders and forces in Lebanon, mostly Muslim. Although these forces differ among themselves on many issues, they agree on the priority of preventing a return of Christian power and the ejection of Israeli forces from the country's south. On the other side stand a variety of Christian forces, including Maronite patriarch Monsignor Nasrallah Sfeir; exiled opposition leaders, such as General Michel Aoun; and the Christian resistance. Again, despite many differences, they share a common goal: that of liberating Lebanon from Syrian control.
New realities developed as Hizbullah, with Iranian and Syrian backing, replaced the PLO as the major anti-Israel guerrilla force in Lebanon and turned the security zone into a microcosm of larger battles and a sour reminder of bitter conflicts. On the one side, Hizbullah and the governments in Beirut, Damascus, and Tehran now press for complete withdrawal of the 2,500-strong Israeli forces in the security zone as a precondition for a cease-fire. On the other, Jerusalem demands the dissolution of Hizbullah as a precondition for demilitarizing the strip.
Despite their ideological and political differences, Hizbullah and Ba'thist Syria coordinate strategies toward the security zone. Hizbullah's military wing, the "Islamist Resistance," has the mission of undermining the southern enclave, and Damascus focuses on eliminating the Christian enclave in East Beirut. The collapse of Michel Aoun's Christian government in central Lebanon in October 1990, followed by the gradual dismemberment of Lebanon's Christian resistance, meant that Syrian and Hizbullah efforts shifted to eliminating the Christian pocket in the south.
Indeed, as Jordanian, Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian delegations met Israeli representatives in the framework of the 1991 Madrid conference, Hizbullah continued its offensive against Israel, especially by launching Katyusha rocket attacks. This violence climaxed in July 1993, when repeated salvos led to the evacuation of Jewish residential centers and, in retaliation, Israeli forces systematically bombarded south Lebanon in "Operation Accountability," forcing about forty thousand people to evacuate to the north.4 Under pressure from the Lebanese government, Hizbullah reached an American-brokered deal with Israel in which it committed not to shell residential centers inside Israel and Jerusalem agreed not to bombard civilian targets inside Lebanon. The understanding left a gap: Hizbullah could still shoot at Israeli and SLA soldiers inside the security zone, an oversight with consequences.
The Oslo agreement of September 1993 made eliminating the security zone all the more urgent to Tehran and its allies, who did their best to undermine this agreement (and the possibility of a subsequent Syrian-Israeli treaty). Tehran's dream is to gain, via a Hizbullah-dominated state in Lebanon, land borders with the Jewish state. The security zone happens to be the only barrier to such a design. Accordingly, Hizbullah sought to compel the Israeli government to withdraw unilaterally from Lebanese territory, for this would permit the pro-Iranian faction to open a front against Israel proper and would gain it tremendous power in Beirut (success against Israel being the surest way to public acclaim in much of the Middle East).
Syria's President Hafiz al-Asad has more defensive objectives but they complement those of Iran. The Syrian dictator seeks the survival of his regime and of the 'Alawi people who dominate it. Asad sees this as depending in good part on holding on to Lebanon, for otherwise the strife in that country might overflow into his. Withdrawal from Lebanon would lead to trouble, either at the hands of the fundamentalist Muslim opposition in Syria or from radical factions in Lebanon. Further, leaving Lebanon means abandoning its economic benefits. Syrians -- who have no stock exchange of their own, just two banks, and enormous external debts, will not easily leave Lebanon's financial paradise, the Bekaa's drug empire, or the dream of one day controlling the wealthy Lebanese diaspora. Asad's long-term goal appears to be integrating Lebanon into Syria, even if this leads to an eventual clash with Tehran. To achieve such an Anschluss requires all Israeli forces out; thus the security zone's importance for him.
ISRAELI AND LEBANESE CHRISTIAN GOALS
Since 1985, the Jewish state and the Christian resistance have perceived the security zone very differently. The former has a purely security agenda, while the latter has political aims.
To Israelis, the zone recalls their 1982-85 political nightmare in the "Lebanese mud." They blame the Christians of Lebanon for the international wrath that descended on Israel after the Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982; for failing to salvage the May 17, 1983, Lebanon-Israel peace agreement; and for never publicly endorsing open relations with Jerusalem. Between 1985 and 1990, Israeli leaders gave an absolute commitment to the security zone, but only to protect the Galilee; they constantly reminded the Christians of Lebanon that they were on their own.
Christians of south Lebanon had a more ambitious vision for the security zone. "The border belt serves the security interests of the Israeli people," explains Christian politician Etienne Sacr, "but it is an embodiment of the Lebanese resistance to the Syrian and fundamentalist domination of the country. The security zone is the last enclave of the Lebanese people in their struggle for freedom."5 "The borders of this last enclave were drawn with the blood of men and women, who died to defend their soil, and to preserve the Lebanese-Israeli alliance in the region," declares Colonel Sharbel Barakat, the SLA's director for foreign affairs.6
Barakat distinguishes between the security belt along Israel's borders, which is under Israel's direct military control, and the area of Jezzine, a district contiguous to the belt but exclusively defended by the SLA. "Although both areas form one security zone from an SLA perspective, only the border belt is under Israeli control."7 Many Lebanese Christians argue that because it is free from any foreign force, Jezzine can serve as the launching pad for a "free enclave."8
Barakat explains the complex structure of the whole security belt: "Almost fifty percent of the zone's population is Shi'i and Druze. Our area is a representative microcosm of Lebanon. However, the Christian element is the backbone of the SLA and of those segments of the population committed to an alliance with Israel." Barakat concludes that in the case of an Israeli unilateral withdrawal, "the Christians will be either massacred or expelled, leaving the northern Galilee naked to a million Shiites, mobilized by radical pro-Iranian militias."9
Fearful of a possible Syrian-Israeli agreement at their expense, Christian Lebanese formed a "south Lebanon lobby" in Jerusalem (organized by the Maronite League of the Holy Land/Israel) and in Washington (by the World Lebanese Organization) to raise publicly the issue of the southern enclave. In Israel, the pro-Lebanon group even published political advertisements calling on the Israeli people not to abandon its allies ("We have stood by you, stand by us," "South Lebanon is Free Lebanon and Israel's only true ally in the Middle East").10 Learning from the Israeli lobby in the United States, Lebanon's supporters activated the small Maronite community in Israel11 to enhance its voting power in the Israeli elections, to good effect.12
In the United States, the south Lebanon lobby took similar steps, with the result that a number of Christian and Jewish organizations put continued autonomy of the security zone on their agendas. This effort to convince Israelis and Americans to see the land between Jezzine and the Galilee not as an occupied territory waiting for withdrawal but as a disputed cause waiting for solution culminated in April 1996, when the National Unity Conference for Israel, a coalition of 190 Christian and Jewish organizations, issued a position paper calling on the Israeli and American governments not to abandon their "allies in south Lebanon, and to extend their protection to the Christian community in Lebanon."13
OFFENSIVES AGAINST THE SECURITY ZONE
With the defeat of General Aoun's Christian government in October 1990 and the gradual Syrian takeover of the Christian central zones between 1991 and 1995, Lebanon outside the security zone fell entirely into the hands of the Muslim camp and its Damascus partners. This change increased the confrontational attitude of the pro-Syrian camp toward the south. To Syria, the security zone is nothing more than the "last Lebanese Arab land occupied by Israel."14 To the Lebanese regime it is the "last ditch before the full pacification and the unification of the country."15
A convergence of interests between Damascus, Tehran, and their local allies in Lebanon led to re-energized activities against Israel in south Lebanon. Iran provided the financial and logistical support, Syria ensured safe passage for Hizbullah's groups from the northern strongholds to the south,16 Hizbullah organized sporadic ambushes against SLA and Israeli patrols, and the government in Beirut demanded that the U.N. Security Council protest "Israel's continuous occupation of the south." Also, in late 1994, Beirut launched a legal campaign to undermine the SLA's popular support, issuing arrest warrants for Lahad, Sacr, and dozens of others in the SLA. Trials in absentia condemned to death its top leadership, and Hizbullah-issued press releases called for the execution of SLA members after an Israeli withdrawal.17 These actions sent a forceful message to the civilian population that the SLA must come to an end and its members must distance themselves from Israel.
Diplomatic negotiations between Washington, Jerusalem, and Damascus added to the unease of Christians in the security zone. Statements by Prime Minister Shimon Peres and other Israeli officials made it clear that Jerusalem had agreed unilaterally to withdraw its forces from the south in return for Syrian pacification of the area. Israel's ambassador to the United States, Itamar Rabinovich, publicly declared his government's intention to "subcontract Lebanon to Syria in eventual peace arrangements."18 U.S. officials similarly spoke positively of Syria's role: according to the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, Philip Wilcox, "Syria has used its influence from time to time to restrain Hizbollah rocket attacks across the Israeli border."19 He argued that "as a result of Secretary Christopher's diplomacy in April, Syria persuaded the Hizbollah to cease firing Katyusha rckets across the Lebanese border into Israel. The Syrian government has also demonstrated that it can use its influence to deter rejectionist groups ... We have no evidence of direct Syrian involvment in terrorist acts since 1986." Wilcox concluded his testimony that "Syria is a strategically located state with the potential for positive participation in the Middle East, and it has been an important participant in the Peace Process." This perception of Syria suggests that the U.S. government will not soon upset Asad's influence in Lebanon. Rather, this approach implies dismantling the security zone in return for disarming Hizbullah. As such, it clearly delineates the difference between Israeli interests as understood by the Labor government (getting an agreement with Asad) and those of the Lebanese Christians (maintaining a free enclave in the south).
Progress on the Palestinian and Jordanian tracks prompted fundamentalist Muslim forces into action. In particular, Hizbullah repeatedly fired on the northern Galilee starting in March 1996, leading Israel to respond with "Operation Grapes of Wrath," a campaign of air and artillery attacks. By mid-April, the IDF's air force had caused serious destruction in the country. But the Israeli campaign did not achieve its goals owing to a lack of ground involvement; Hizbullah's bases remained in place and the organization even grew stronger. Contrary to Labor Party expectations, Hariri wholeheartedly endorsed the Islamic resistance: "We will never fight against Hizbullah. It is a national resistance movement."20 Finally, on April 16, the United States brokered a written understanding between Israel, Lebanon, and Syria (but officially not Hizbullah) that amounted to a renewal of the 1993 agreement: Israel and Hizbullah committed not to target civilian centers, both parties retained the freedom to "respond to aggressions,"21 and Hizbullah vowed to resume its struggle against the occupied south and Israel.22 Leaders of the security zone openly expressed their disappointment. Lahad revealed that his forces could not occupy empty Shi'i villages because of "lack of troops and an Israeli decision not to enlarge the security zone."23
Then, after the formation of a new government in Israel by Binyamin Netanyahu in June, new developments changed the political ambiance in the security zone. In an initiative dubbed "Lebanon First," Netanyahu offered to withdraw Israeli forces from the security zone if Beirut guaranteed northern Israel's security and protected the SLA from reprisals, but this met with a thundering Syrian rejection. In response, the Jewish state hardened its position in south Lebanon and Netanyahu visited Marj 'Uyun in August, where he met Lahad and declared that "no withdrawal will take place before a total dismantlement of Hizbullah, and the integration of the SLA forces in the Lebanese Army."24 Minister of Defense Yitzhak Mordechai added that "Israel will not pull out [of Lebanon] before a Syrian similar withdrawal from Lebanon, including the Bekaa Valley."25 Bouyed by this support, SLA leaders increased their media appearances and the South Lebanon lobby escalated its campaign. In Israel, George Diab, Maronite leader, said "south Lebanon will be defended by the southern Lebanese," and called on Israel to increase its support to the SLA, while he agreed that Israel should consider redeploying its forces after the strengthening of the Lebanese local forces. Israeli and Global News, Sept. 6, 1996. In Washington, a conference organized by the WLO and endorsed by a coalition of Lebanese Christian factions sent a memorandum to the US Congress and the Israeli government calling for the protection of the Christians in south Lebanon. The document was endorsed by a number of Christian and human-rights organizations. Lebanon Bulletin, and Mideast Newswire, Sept. 30, 1996.
If no way is found to blunt Hizbullah's energetic strategy, it is only a matter of time before Iranian forces deploy on the Lebanese border with Israel. With Beirut already under Syrian domination and the south's feeling Iranian influence, Lebanon may well become perhaps the most radical and least containable foe of Israel and the West.
Hizbullah and Syria have shown signs of strategic escalation against the security zone. Hizbullah launched artillery attacks against Christian villages in the Jezzine area during August and also ambushed a number of Christian civilians, killing and injuring at least five villagers.26 These actions are accompanied by threats to erase the SLA in less than two days after Israel's unilateral withdrawal.
THREE OPTIONS FACING ISRAEL
Jerusalem has three main options to prevent this scenario: withdraw completely, maintain the status quo, or expand the security zone. All of them, however, have unsatisfactory results from its viewpoint (and that of the Lebanese Christians).
Complete withdrawal. Popular among the far Left, and seriously considered by the Labor leadership, the option of pulling out of the "Lebanese mud" has its own rationale. President Ezer Weizmann explained, "We should withdraw from South Lebanon and let Syria take over."27 "The so-called security zone is useless," wrote Oded Levshish, a syndicated journalist. "With our advanced army we don't need this liability." Moreover, he added, "the SLA are just mercenaries, and Hizbullah men are freedom fighters."28 This extreme statement was rebutted by several politicians, including Health Minister Efraim Sneh and Uri Lubrani, the coordinator for Lebanon. Still, unilateral withdrawal would have been a serious option had the Labor Party won the elections in May 1996.
To the Christians of south Lebanon, any Israeli pullout portends catastrophe. "Syria will send the Lebanese units first," says Barakat. "Hizbullah will be allowed to slaughter the members of the SLA without retaliation. Ironically, at the end of the day, the Syrian Army will be asked to defend the civilian population!"29 Accordingly, they acclaimed the victory of Netanyahu in Israel's May 29, 1996, election as ensuring their physical security. The new prime minister's "Lebanon First" initiative -- implying a unilateral withdrawal from the area -- prompted concerns among Lebanese Christians; they voiced these ("The Likud Administration should not forget that south Lebanon is Free Lebanon and one of Israel's best allies in the Middle East")30 and the Israelis responded with assurances that an unconditional withdrawal was not in the offing.
Status quo. The April 1996 understanding is likely to maintain the status quo, in which case Hizbullah resumes its attacks -- and provokes Israeli retaliation -- at will. Hizbullah's spokesmen constantly affirm that "military activity will never stop."31 They appear to have Syrian backing; after meeting Syrian foreign minister Faruq ash-Shar'a, Hizbullah's leader Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah spoke of "full Syrian backing in resuming the attacks against the SLA and the Israelis."32
The Christian southerners see the status quo as ineluctably leading to a defeat for Israel and the SLA. In the wake of the kidnapping of a Christian from Jezzine by Hizbullah on August 5, 1996, the Lebanese Front said, "The status quo does not exist anymore, there is an Islamist decision to destroy our resistance and disperse the Christians from the south."33
A greater security zone. Many voices among the right-wing camp in Israel, including Ariel Sharon of Likud and Rafael Eitan of Tsomet (two frustrated veterans of the 1982 war), advocate the enlargement of the security zone. Were the zone to reach the Awali River, they argue, rocket attacks could no longer reach the Galilee. But this doctrine was tested in Operation Peace for Galilee in 1982 and led to the Israeli forces' having to occupy more land, deal with a dense and hostile Shi'i population, and assume a greater risk of attacks on them by Hizbullah.34 It is therefore less likely to be repeated, even by a Likud government in which these two ex-military men exert great influence.
Most of the southern Christian leadership is skeptical of this approach, preferring to keep the security zone compact and controllable. They have learned the hard way about the dangers of ruling over large numbers of Muslims and prefer not to do so again.
POLICY RECOMMENDATION: ELECTIONS IN THE ZONE
These unsatisfactory options confirm the lesson made clear by Operation Grapes of Wrath: despite its devastating power, the Israeli army cannot achieve its strategic goals in Lebanon without the assistance of a local Lebanese ally. Lacking ties to a legitimate local authority, Israel will ultimately have to withdraw. In brief, Israel (and the West) needs a local ally in Lebanon -- one that controls more than the security zone.
The Israeli army cannot achieve its strategic goals in Lebanon without the assistance of a local Lebanese ally.
The remnants of the Christian resistance in Lebanon also see the idea of a "Free Lebanon," such as Haddad promoted in the early days of the security zone, as the sole answer to the rise of fundamentalism and terrorism in their country. "Without an organized political movement in the security zone, brute military force will fail to resist the Islamists," writes Barakat.35
To stay outside Syria's and Iran's control, this new "Free Lebanon" cannot resemble previous attempts. It would have to be a national Lebanese authority that fulfills a number of conditions: (1) It is the only place where the new authority exercises sovereignty, pending liberation of the entire country. (2) It receives Israeli and American recognition as the legitimate interim government of such an entity. (3) It creates a national liberation movement that replaces the South Lebanon Army and no longer depends on Israeli support. (4) It derives its legitimacy from local elections in the security zone.
Once a credible authority exists in south Lebanon, supported by the West, it could take control of the SLA forces and call on Lebanese to join its regular units. This would make it possible to recruit personnel to control the free area and any other zone evacuated by Hizbullah or the Syrians. Such a military force would fulfill the anti-terrorist strategy devised by the international community, particularly at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference.
An interim government in south Lebanon and the diaspora would have a variety of benefits. It avoids having to rely on Asad to take control of the area. It will ultimately permit Israel to withdraw its soldiers from Lebanon. A strong Lebanese force provides the manpower to uproot terrorism and stands opposed to fundamentalist Islam. The expensive U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, instead of counting shells, could engage in peace-building missions, such as helping refugees to return home, monitoring real elections, and replacing Syrian troops as they withdraw. An interim government should attract capital from emigrants abroad, especially as Lebanon's borders with the Jewish state would be open.
In sum, a piece of Lebanon that is fully free could challenge the rest of the country still chained to Damascus. Though perhaps hard to imagine at this moment, such a development would not be unprecedented; free parts of nations have throughout history generated the mechanisms for liberating the motherland (think of Greece in the nineteenth century, Germany in the 1980s, and, perhaps soon, the Korean peninsula).
Most maps showing Israel's security zone in south Lebanon (such as the one at left, form the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, May 2, 1966), do not show the portion extending to Jezzine (see map at right), perhaps because it is under the exclusive control of the South Lebanon Army, not the Israel Defense Forces. Many Lebanese Christians see the Jezzine area as the launching pad for a free enclave.
1 Francis Rizk (political advisor for the Christian enclaves in 1976-78), "L'horrible drame libanais nous a rapproché," Hashomer Israel (Rennes, France), Winter 1978, pp. 12-13. On this subject, see Beate Hamizrachi, The Emergence of the South Lebanon Security Belt (New York: Praeger, 1988). Contacts between the Christians and the Zionists began in the 1930s; on which, see Laura Zittrain Eisenberg, My Enemy's Enemy: Lebanon in the Early Zionist Imagination (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1994).
2 Despite the accusation that Israel siphons off Lebanon's waters, the Jewish state since 1977 has actually provided water to its Christian neighbors.
3 "Qu'est ce que la bonne frontière," Hashomer Israel, Winter 1978, pp. 14-15.
4 The Lebanese government stated that 400,000 had fled but SLA intelligence sources, who estimate the number at one-tenth as many, seem closer to the mark.
5 Interview on Feb. 30, 1996, in Ain Ebel, South Lebanon. Also found in the Lebanon Bulletin, week of Mar. 15, 1996 (posted on Lebnet, an Internet service).
6 International Christian Radio (an evangelical station broadcasting to the Middle East from Lantana, Fla.), Mar. 23, 1994.
7 Sharbel Barakat, "Israel's moral duty towards Christian south Lebanon," Middle East Intelligence Digest, July 1995; and in a speech at the Second Christian Zionist Conference, Jerusalem, Feb. 27, 1996.
8 Declaration by the World Lebanese Organization, Washington strategic seminar, Maronite Seminary, Sept. 28-29, 1996. in Lebanon Bulletin, Oct. 7, 1996.
9 Interview on "Live From Jerusalem," (a talk show on WAXY 790 AM in south Fla.), May 21, 1996.
10 The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 19, 1996; and May 9, 1996.
11 Maronite soldiers first settled in the Galilee in 676 A.D. The Maronite population in Palestine reached 40,000 under the Crusaders and shrank under Muslim rule to about 7,000. Today it numbers about 9,000. Maronites live mostly in Jerusalem, Haifa, Bethlehem, Nazareth, El-Jish, Yaffa, Lod, and Ramlah. The Maronite bishop of Tyre in Lebanon historically oversaw the community but in June 1996 a bishop was elected to serve Israel's Maronites from Jerusalem (An-Nahar, June 12, 1996). For the history of this population, see Ignace Khuri, Al-Mawarina fi'l-Aradi al-Muqaddasa (Beirut: Al-Matba'a al-Maruniya, 1957).
12 A May 26, 1996, poll of Christian Israelis gave Likud more than 80% of the Maronite, Assyrian, Coptic, and Evangelical vote, and between 20% and 40% in the case of Melkites and others. An editorial in the Middle East Intelligence Digest attributed this change in large part to the situation in Lebanon: "Observers accredited the shift in Christian support to reports that the Labour government planned to pull out of South Lebanon after the elections, leaving Israel's Christian allies in the security zone at the mercy of the country's Syrian occupiers and the forces of radical Islam." Middle East Intelligence Digest, June 1996. The Maronite and other Christian communities in Israel apparently gave between 15,000 to 20,000 votes to Netanyahu and the opposition in the May 29 elections; see Manfred Lehamnn, "Heroes of the Elections," The Algemeiner, June 6, 1996.
13 National Press Club, Washington, D.C., Apr. 26, 1996.
14 Radio Damascus, Apr. 19, 1996.
15 Government of Lebanon, Ministry of Information, Oct. 14, 1990.
16 See Colin Rubinstein, "Terror from all sides: Iran's proxies called to account," Australia/Israel Review, Apr. 1996.
17 Lebanon Bulletin (on Lebnet), Mar. 14, 1996.
18 Mideast Newswire, Feb. 2, 1995.
19 Testimony to the House International Relations Committee, July 25, 1996.
20 Rafiq al-Hariri interviewed on Cable News Network, Apr. 18, 1996.
21 An-Nahar, Apr. 17, 1996. The April 16 agreement is in fact a cease-fire arrangement between Israel and Hizbullah, to be monitored by observers from France, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and the United States. For the first time since the Rhodos armistice in 1948, a mechanism of cessation of hostilities was agreed upon by Syria and Israel regarding the Lebanese borders.
22 On Apr. 26, 1996, Hizbullah placed a front-page advertisement in the Beirut daily An-Nahar calling the masses to "contribute in buying one missile." A picture and caption in An-Nahar, May 1, 1996, shows a large billboard at the entrance of Sidon and Gaziya stating that "Today more than ever the Jewish cancer must be destroyed, the Zionist entity must vanish, Katyusha means the return."
23 "Live from Jerusalem," May 5, 1996.
24 Israeli and Global News, Aug. 20, 1996.
25 An-Nahar and Jerusalem Post, Sept. 14, 1996.
26 For the first time, a commando from the SLA infiltrated Hizbullah regional headquarters and, Israeli-style, abducted two field commanders of the Islamist militia. The Lebanon Bulletin, Aug. 20, 1996.
27 Qol Israel , June 12, 1996.
28 Oded Levshish, "A Security Zone We Don't Need," Davar, April 18, 1996. The SLA prompts contrasting assessments as a military force. Al Venter, "South Lebanese Army Combats Internal Disintegration," Jane's International Defense Review, Aug. 1996, pp. 55-58. Some reports indicate that the SLA remains a fighting force capable of repelling the Islamist Mujahedin, if "given a chance." See, for example, Mark Milstein, "Hez Hunters," Soldier of Fortune, Sept. 1996.
29 Interview with Judith Sudilovsky, "Christian factor missing from Mideast talks," Catholic News Service, Mar. 15, 1996. See also Charlotte Besecker Kassab, "South Lebanon," The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 4, 1993; and N. Khouri, "Israeli Leaders Betray on South Lebanese Christians," The Jewish Voice (New Jersey), July 1995.
30 Ziad Abdelnour, "Lebanon is the Key to Peace," The Washington Times, Aug. 9, 1996.
31 Statements made by Hizbullah's leaders and authorized sources on Al-Manar television station, and the Voice of Islamic Resistance FM station on Apr. 14, 15, and 16, 1996. Similar statements have also been made since the agreement and published by publications like An-Nahar (Apr. 24, 1996) and As-Safir (Apr. 26, 1996), and by Hizbullah's radio station on an almost daily basis.
32 An-Nahar, Apr. 25, 1996.
33 An-Nahar, Aug. 6, 1996; Lebanon Bulletin, Aug. 19, 1996.
34 Antoine Lahad on "Live from Jerusalem," Apr. 13, 1996.
35 The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 19, 1996.