Israel has completed its withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, three months after mounting an invasion to smash Palestinian guerrilla bases in the area.
Israel has completed its withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, three months after mounting an invasion to smash Palestinian guerrilla bases in the area. The withdrawal followed an official handing over ceremony in the Moslem border village of Miss El Jabal, on Tuesday (13 June).
SYNOPSIS: Unlike earlier phased withdrawal, this one did not involve The United Nations Interim Force in South Lebanon. On the receiving end were South Lebanese Christian Militia Units. In fact the only UN troops-some Irish soldiers - appeared briefly, apparently on an informal visit to the village. The Head of the Lebanese Units, Major Saad Haddad, said the United Nations Command had agreed to let his forces take control of the area, a border strip running from the Mediterranean to the slopes of Mount Hermon. However, this carried a condition that the UN forces would be allowed to patrol the Christian strongholds. Major Haddad told the gathering of troops and villagers that he hoped the UN force would keep southern Lebanon free of Palestinian guerrillas. Otherwise, he said, he would hope and expect the Israelis to interfere again.
But even as the final farewells were being completed and the Israeli column began to move, Israeli intelligence was confirming reports that about 300 guerrillas had filtered back into parts of Lebanon now controlled by the UN forces, indicating that the pull-out will not mean an end to smouldering hostilities. After the ceremony, the Israeli Commander, Major-General Avigdor Ben Gal, was asked about the absence of UN troops.
Despite General Gal's claim that the two forces were working together, troops and tanks of Christian Militia alone took command of the strategic points, as the Israelis disappeared across their border.