Lebanon Table of Contents
Because it was skeptical about the willingness and capability of the Lebanese Army to implement the Shtawrah Accord by displacing the PLO in southern Lebanon and securing the border area, in 1977 Israel started to equip and fund a renegade Christian remnant of the Lebanese Army led by Major Saad Haddad. Haddad's force, which became known as The Free Lebanon Army, and later as the South Lebanon Army (SLA), grew to a strength of about 3,000 men and was allied closely with Israel. Haddad eventually proclaimed the enclave he controlled "Free Lebanon." The insulation provided by this buffer area permitted Israel to open up its border with Lebanon. Under this so-called "Good Fence" policy, Israel provided aid and conducted trade with Lebanese living near the border.
On March 11, 1978, PLO terrorists made a sea landing in Haifa, Israel, commandeered a bus, and then drove toward Tel Aviv, firing from the windows. By the end of the day, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had killed the nine terrorists, who had murdered thirty-seven Israeli civilians. In retaliation, four days later Israel launched Operation Litani, invading Lebanon with a force of 25,000 men. The purpose of the operation was to push PLO positions away from the border and bolster the power of the SLA. The IDF first seized a security belt about ten kilometers deep, but then pushed north and captured all of Lebanon south of the Litani River, inflicting thousands of casualties.
Data as of December 1987