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Eitan Reaffirms Support for Hadadd’s Christian Militia

March 27, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Chief of Staff Gen. Rafael Eitan said yesterday that Israel’s policy in south Lebanon would be guided solely by its self interest and reaffirmed that Israel would continue to support Maj. Saad Haddad’s Christian militia and to take action against terrorists "where we want, when we want and how we want."

Meanwhile, the army expressed surprise today at a statement attributed to Gen. William Callaghan of Ireland, commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) that he was determined to help the Lebanese regular army regain control of south Lebanon, regardless of the cost in lives.

The statement was reportedly made in an interview with United Press International. The army issued a special communique asserting that Callaghan’s reported remarks appeared to be in direct contradiction to the friendly words and atmosphere during the UNIFIL commander’s meeting with Eitan three days ago.

But Israeli sources reported a similar remark by Callaghan at a meeting he had with Gen. Avigdor Ben-Gal, commander of the northern front, in Nazareth a week ago. That meeting was reported to have been frosty and tense but Callaghan insisted later that it was a friendly talk between professional soldiers.

The army statement today said the Lebanese army had demonstrated its inability to establish order in northern Lebanon where it allowed Syrians and the Palestine Liberation Organization to take control. As a consequence, the army communique claimed, tension reigns in the north whereas the Christian enclave in the south is relatively quiet under Haddad’s control. The army added that Israel would not abandon Haddad but would continue to support his force to enable it to withstand onslaughts from the PLO.


Eitan, addressing army pensioneers, said "Our own self-interest is supreme" in south Lebanon "and will guide us in our actions not to allow terrorists to return to the border fence." He said Israel could not allow a situation to develop in which "the militia could say they (Israel) helped us when it was convenient for them and left us to be slaughtered when it wasn’t."

A subcommittee of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee visited south Lebanon today. Members said later they were convinced that

the Lebanese army regulars who have taken up positions near the Christian enclave are actually Syrian soldiers wearing Lebanese uniforms.

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