TEL AVIV (Jul. 8)
Defense Minister Ariel Sharon claimed that Israel’s invasion of Lebanon forestalled an all-out war planned by Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization against Israel within the next year or two. The war planned by the Syrians and the PLO would have hit Israel under far worse conditions than exist now, Sharon told the graduating class of the Israel Army Staff and Command College.
Sharon replied to criticism expressed by many Israelis in recent days of his extension of the war in Lebanon far beyond the 40 kilometer security zone that the government professed was its objective when it launched the invasion on June 6.
He maintained that the alleged Syrian and PLO war plans proved that Israel’s campaign in Lebanon was defensive, not a political war as the critics claim. He compared it to the Sinai campaign of 1956, ordered by Premier David Ben Gurion and the Six-Day War of 1967 when another abor government, headed by Premier Levi Eshkol was in power.
According to Sharon, the Syrians and PLO were confident that their Soviet-built T-72 tanks and SAM anti-aircraft missiles would assure them of victory over Israel.