TEL AVIV (Sep. 18)
Chief of Staff Gen, Moshe Levy conceded today that Israel had “not taken into consideration…. sufficiently” the possibility that Syrian and Palestine Liberation Organization forces would join with Druze forces in the Shouf mountains to fight against the Lebanese army when it was decided to redeploy the Israel Defense Force to safer lines along the Awali River in south Lebanon.
Interviewed on Israel television at the end of Yom Kippur last night, Levy repeated that the IDF fully expected the warring Druze and Christians to resume fighting once the IDF left the Shouf area although “we had done everything in our power to coordinate the withdrawal thing in our power to coordinate the withdrawal and bring about a settlement before the predictable — and predictably cruel — war would break out.”
DETAILS AND NUANCES WERE NOT APPRECIATED
But, he added, the details of the process of renewed fighting and their nuances were not appreciated, nor was the influence of the Palestinians and the Syrians.
“To my regret,” Levy said,” these factors were not taken into consideration, or not sufficiently absorbed before our redeployment when everybody was talking about redeployment and that it should be carried out, and perhaps its was not convenient to grasp that this redeployment would have a price in this respect.”
He recalled, however that “Even in public, I had more than one occasion to say that the reinforcement and return of the terrorists and the increase of Syrian influence would be among the results of our redeployment.”
Levy added again, “to my regret, time was wasted (before making adequate arrangements to prevent the return of the Palestinians) and no strong enough attempts were made and perhaps the illusion was also created that if we are, constantly, as it were, on the verge of a settlement, we will simply continue staying there, and maybe it was this situation of lack of decisiveness which led to a rather worse development.”
DID NOT EXPECT MASSIVE PALESTINIAN INTERVENTION
A similar admission was made today by Uri Lubrani, coordinator of Israeli affairs in Lebanon, Addressing the Economic Club here, he said Israel had anticipated that if there was no agreement on the Lebanese army taking over the positions evacuated by the IDF, the Druze would have the upper hand.
He said Israel believed the Palestinians would take part in the fighting but had not reckoned that their intervention would be as massive as it was. He said he thought the IDF would remain in Lebanon for some months but their stay should not be reckoned in years.
Asked why Israel had maintained contact with the Druze even when it was clear the Palestinians would join them, Lubrani admitted there had been a dilemma, But Israel was determined that no Israeli soldiers should be harmed during the redeployment which was carried out smoothly, without casualties,
Levy for his part, stressed that Israel could and would deal with any Palestinians who tried to enter the security zone north of Israel’s borders, He explained that the new line along the Awali River was an “open line.” meaning that Lebanese refugees could move southwards and Israeli patrols would be active north of the line.