TEL AVIV (Jun. 6)
Israel’s three year war in Lebanon ended today without official announcements or declarations. According to government statements more than a month ago, the Israel Defense Force was to be completely out of Lebanese territory by June 6, the third anniversary of its invasion of Lebanon, dubbed at the time “Operation Peace for Galilee.”
Israelis generally accept the fact that the war is over. It cost 654 soldiers and other security personnel dead and nearly 6,000 wounded. If it did indeed achieve “peace for Galilee”, the settlers in the northern border towns seem hardly less apprehensive over their security now than they were on June 6, 1982 when the IDF plunged into Lebanon.
The last Lebanese soil occupied by the IDF was a security belt several miles deep which roughly parallels the Israel border. The Israel-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA) has been given the task of maintaining security there and preventing the infiltration of Palestinian terrorists or hostile guerrillas. A cadre of IDF officers remains to serve as liaison and advisors. The IDF has reserved the right to send fighting units back into Lebanon should a situation develop there threatening Israel’s security.
LESSON OF WAR STRESSED
But Israel has given up any attempt to project its military power to affect the political situation in Lebanon. Abba Eban, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, pointed to the folly of such attempts. The Labor MK and former Foreign Minister told a meeting of “Parents Against Silence” today that the most important lesson Israel should have learned from the Lebanon was was provided by the Lebanese Christians when they tried to expand their power into largely Moslem areas. A similar fate could befall Israel, he said.
Another speaker, author Yizhar Smilansky, said there were two possible solutions to Israel’s problem: “to slug it out or talk it out.” Now that the first option has proven ineffective, he said, Israel should try the second.
“Parents Against Silence” are the parents of IDF soldiers who served in Lebanon, some of who died or were wounded there. They organized originally to protest the extension of the war far beyond its officially stated goal of driving Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists back 25 miles from the Israel border, out of rocket and artillery range of towns in Galilee.
In one of the northernmost towns, Metullah, leaders of the border towns met yesterday to discuss how the final withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon will affect their lives. They decided to go on strike unless the government comes through with promised funds for defense projects and other security related matters.
Yossi Goldberg, head of the Metullah Regional Council, said the council will no longer be responsible for administering the settlements because it is out of money. Shalom Rubin, chairman of the Hermon area regional council, complained that not a penny of promised aid has been received from the government. “Only a plethora of visits from government ministers.”