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Cabinet to Discuss Final Stage of Idf’s Withdrawal from Lebanon

April 18, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The third and final stage of the Israel Defense Force withdrawal from Lebanon will be discussed at the Cabinet’s weekly session this Sunday.

All indications are that the IDF will be out of Lebanon by the end of next month. The second stage of the withdrawal is all but completed. There has been no let-up, nevertheless, in attacks on IDF units in south Lebanon and Israeli strikes against terrorist bases.

Three IDF soldiers were wounded Wednesday when an explosive detonated on a roadside as their patrol passed near Kana village. Four soldiers were wounded Tuesday when their vehicle hit a landmine east of Tyre. Of the latter, one reportedly sustained moderate wounds and the others were only slightly hurt.


Israel Air Force planes attacked a terrorist base near the Lebanese town of Bar-Elias in the Bekaa valley Wednesday and returned safely to their bases. The target was identified as a training area and base of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine headed by Naif Hawatmeh. The terrorist group is said to be pro-Soviet and close to Syria.

IDF forces also searched Shuhur village, south of the Litani River today. Finnish officers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said a cache of weapons was uncovered in the village and four residents were detained.


The final stage of the withdrawal will involve abandonment of the electronic surveillance post on Jebel Baroukh and IDF positions in the eastern sector of the front facing Syrian forces in the Bekaa valley. The speed with which this will be accomplished will depend on Israel’s assessment of Syrian intentions, informed sources said.

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Wednesday that he did not think the Syrians would seek a confrontation with Israel but that didn’t mean they would discourage terrorist or guerrilla attacks on the IDF. “They will fight to the last Shiite or the last Druze,” he said. He noted that all of the suicide attacks or attempted attacks on the IDF in recent weeks were by Shiite Moslems.

The timetable for completing the final stage of withdrawal will also depend on how soon the Israel-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA) is able to take over responsibility for the “security belt” just north of the Israel border. Rabin told reporters Wednesday that security in that zone will be maintained by local civil guards in their home villages and by the SLA.

He said the latter would be divided into “regional formations” with Druze soldiers in Druze villages and Christians and Shiite Moslems in their own respective areas. However, Rabin warned if there is unrest, hos- tile activity or any kind of trouble inside Lebanon which endangers Israeli border towns and settlements “the IDF will go, if necessary, into the security zone and even beyond it.” Otherwise, the IDF will remain inside the Israeli border.

The “security belt” corresponds to the strip of territory controlled by the late Maj. Saad Haddad’s Israel-backed Christian militia before the IDF invaded Lebanon in June, 1982; plus the Hasbaya salient which includes Beaufort Castle, a 12th century ruin that was a Palestinian terrorist stronghold before June 1982.


But criticism is mounting in Israel over the projected security role of the SLA which is commanded by Gen. Antoine Lehad. The critics contend that Israel’s reliance on this largely Christian mercenary force is much like the unsuccessful “Vietnamization” undertaken by the Nixon Administration in the final years of the Vietnam war.

Although it was intended to put the burden of the fighting on America’s South Vietnamese allies, U.S. troops found themselves heavily involved in the fighting. Critics see the same thing happening to the IDF.


Meanwhile, most heavy equipment has already been removed from the area along the Litani River still held by the IDF. The IDF has begun dismantling the Kasemiya bridge which it built over the Litani River during the war in Lebanon.

With the bridge removed, travel and trade between the IDF-controlled area and the north will be severely curtailed. The river crossing had been part of the main road between Sidon and Tyre. Rabin said the IDF would evacuate Tyre “shortly” but not before Israel Independence Day next Thursday.

There have been 15 attacks on the IDF in the Tyre area this month, which is half over, compared to 106 attacks in March. Roadside bomb explosions are listed as attacks. Reports from Beirut today said the IDF fired on reporters in the Kasemiya bridge area to prevent them from covering the dismantling operation.

The SLA carried out a search of the Shiite village of Ya’atir, eight kilometers north of the Israeli border yesterday. Up to now, most of these searches were conducted by the IDF. The SLA claimed the village harbored “Communists” and that some villagers recently stoned and burned SLA vehicles.

According to Irish soldiers serving with UNIFIL, the IDF surrounded the village while the SLA rounded up suspects and destroyed houses. Seven men were arrested and six houses were demolished.

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