Why did Israel invade Lebanon in 1982?
Israel attacked Lebanon on June 6, 1982 by claiming that it wanted to put a stop on the raids, aimed towards Israeli territory originating from southern Lebanon. Israel laid a siege on Beirut from where it became clear that Israel wants to remove the PLO from Lebanon. This was not the first military strike Israel had conducted here. A few years before 1982, it bombed the Palestinian refugee camps as a response to the rocket attacks from the PLO, staged from southern Lebanon.
Israel’s relations with Lebanon go back to the time before World War I when the entire land was ruled by Ottoman Empire. Zionist organizations working in a time as early as 1907 began taking interest in Lebanon, considering it a good area for their own use. These Zionists started lobbying the British - who were seemingly committed to forming a separate homeland for Jews in Palestine through Balfour Declaration in an attempt to include the Litani River in their territory arguing that they need adequate water resources and a permanent border.
Zionists were not alone in their cause and had Maronite Christian community as their allies, the powerful community of the two groups inhabiting Lebanon, the other one being the somewhat weak Muslims. Lebanon was a Middle Eastern country where there was not only a substantial non-Muslim community but it was also politically dominant. Having found a lot of common interests, Maronites still remained at odd with Zionists in their efforts to include Southern Lebanon in the Jewish homeland in Palestine.
After World War II, Maronites realized that their earlier decision was not wise so they started efforts to partition Southern Lebanon and make it a part of Palestine. Furthermore, their attempts to form a separate homeland for Jews and a Christian dominated independent Lebanon were futile as the issue of borders remained unresolved as British handed it over to United Nations where under the resolution 181, establishment of the state of Israel was declared in Palestine and became the basis for Israeli enmity.
With a number of other Arab-Israeli conflicts, the war along the borders of Israel and Lebanon became a burning issue. As a result of the continuous Israeli violence, thousands of Palestinians fled to the neighboring Arab counties and formed settlements. Several guerilla forces raised their heads from these settlements and attacked Israeli troops which prompted Israel’s attacks at Jordan and Lebanon.
The large influx of Palestinians Muslims entering the Lebanese regions upset the balance of population and caused civil wars between Maronite Christians and Muslims. Muslims were aided by Syrians while Israel supplied arms to anti-Muslim parties. The war raged on and Palestine Liberation Organization continued to launch attacks against Israel. By 1978, Southern Lebanon was under the control of the PLO completely and Israel decided to invade the territory on March 14, 1978.
Israel’s military actions forced nearly 285,000 people to leave the settlements and become refugees. Some 2000 Lebanese civilians became victims of the war with a direct damage to more than 6,000 houses, while there were only 20 Israeli casualties. The amount of the PLO fighters during the invasion remained unknown.