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S. Lebanon Army Commander Says It Will Be 18-24 Months Before His Troops Can Be Independent of IDF

June 6, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The South Lebanon Army (SLA) will require 18-24 months before it can take control of most of the areas of south Lebanon now occupied by the Israel Defense Force, according to the SLA’s commander, Gen. Antoine Lahad.

Lahad said, in an interview published today in the Israeli army weekly Bamahane, that the SLA would have to increase its manpower from the present 2,000 to a force of 6,000 before it could improve to the point where it can operate independently of the IDF. It now relies heavily on the IDF and even when it attains the required strength, the IDF would have to protect south Lebanon from attacks from outside forces, Lahad said.

The interview was published on the eve of the second anniversary of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, a war that cost the IDF 584 dead and about 3,400 woulded to date and has created painful divisions in Israel. Controversy still rages over Israel’s war aims in June, 1982.

Former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, believed by many to be the man who planned and directed the war in Lebanon, addressed students at the Haifa Technion today. He branded as “vicious lies” reports that he or former Premier Menachem Begin had told Labor Alignment leaders at the time that the fighting in Lebanon would be over in “two days.”

Sharon said that he and Begin were referring only to the time it would take to drive the Palestine Liberation Organization out of Katyusha rocket range of Israeli towns and settlements near the Lebanese border. Nevertheless, Begin subsequently stated that what he called “Operation Peace for Galilee” was intended only to push the PLO to a line 40 kilometers north of the Israeli border.

The IDF did not stop at that line but continued to press northward to the outskirts of Beirut and engaged the Syrian army in the Bekaa valley to the east. Israel Radio said today that the understanding at the time was that the war would be over in 48 hours. Subsequent events made the war in Lebanon the most controversial in Israel’s history and the only war in which there was no national consensus.


This is in sharp contrast to the Six-Day War which began in June, 1967, the 17th anniversary of which is being marked in Israel this week. That war was supported by the entire population. But it also left a bitter legacy, manifested in the ongoing debate over the future of the West Bank and Gaza Strip where Israel rules over more than a million unwilling Palestinian Arabs.

The debate has been heated in recent weeks with the confirmation of the existence of a Jewish terrorist underground on the West Bank suspected of a long series of attacks and planned attacks on Arab civilians. Only last week, 27 suspected members of the underground were indicted for various criminal offenses.

As the anniversary of the Six-Day War and the war in Lebanon approached, tension rose on the West Bank and Israeli security forces were alerted for possible demonstrations. As of this afternoon however, all was reported quiet in the territory.

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