Israel in Lebanon
The Report of the International
Commission to enquire into reported
violations of International Law by
Israel during its invasion of the Lebanon
Selected Testimony and Reports
In the course of its investigation, the Commission considered evidence of many kinds which was presented to it in Lebanon, in Israel, elsewhere in the Middle East, and in Europe. The evidence included testimony, both spoken and written, from ministers and officials, medical personnel, welfare workers, soldiers, refugees, journalists and others. Through the work of its research team the Commission also had access to a very wide selection of other evidence provided by the international press and broadcasting services.
This appendix contains a selection from this mass of material which has particular relevance to one section or another of the Commission’s report.
Part 1: Evidence relating to Israeli War Aims
Extract from an article published in The Guardian on 28 June 1982, by Michael Adams
In a half-page advertisement in The Guardian and other newspapers the Zionist Federation of Great Britain has claimed that the invasion was aimed at ‘liberating Israel’s civilian population from continuous acts of terror and aggression’. But every authority agrees, including The Guardian, The Times and the British Foreign Secretary, that it was Israel itself and not the Palestinians who broke the cease-fire along Israeli’s northern border and that the PLO had in fact shown considerable restraint in the face of Israeli bombing raids on south Lebanon and Beirut.
. . . When General Sharon persuaded Begin to allow him to embark on the invasion of Lebanon, was his aim merely to eliminate the PLO as a fighting organisation – and if so, could its cost in blood and destruction possibly be justified? Or was there a different, a much wider objective? It is a question many people have asked and the most authoritative answer to it has come from a Jew and a Zionist, a man who has been closely associated for longer than anyone else now living with the Zionist movement and the emergence of the Jewish state, the former president of the World Jewish Congress, Dr Nahum Goldman.
In the course of an interview published in The Guardian on 18 June, Dr Goldman told the paper’s Paris correspondent that he thought the Israeli action in Lebanon ‘out of all proportion to the threat faced on the northern border’ (of Israel). And he went on to say, in what was surely a carefully considered judgment: ‘The apparent aim is to liquidate the Palestinian people – something you cannot do to four million people.’
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The following are extracts from an article by the Jerusalem correspondent of The Times which was published on 29 July under the headline Israel’s battle against time
. . . Professor Yuval Ne’eman, Israel’s newest cabinet minister yesterday described occupied Lebanon up to the port city of Sidon as part of Eretz Israel – the biblical land of Israel – and he advocated that Israel’s army should now remain there for an extended period of ‘years rather than months’ .
He said that Israel should put special emphasis on control of events in the southern part of the country to the Zahrani river, ‘because that area touches on us from every point of view’ .
Among projects which his party would be pressing for inside the Cabinet was joint use of the resources of the Litani river a few miles north of Israel’s present border.
‘What I am saying does not precisely involve a change in the border. It can be done without changing any borders’ he said.
‘We think that by invading, the Government has in fact started the last act of the war for this country, for the whole of Eretz Israel. It has also finally pricked the balloon of the PLO’, he said.
‘It is now a matter of working every day and every month to accelerate the Jewish colonization of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza. It is a battle of time now, because we know that the political pressures on the state ofIsrael to give it up will be tremendous. But if we create a Jewish presence there as we have around Jerusalem the idea will no longer be realistic.’
The minister would not confirm reports of the price paid by the Government to secure Techiya’s entry into the coalition, but Israeli sources claimed it included an extra 6,000 housing units and seven new settlements in the West Bank and Gaza before the end of the year.
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Interview with Georges Howi, Vice-President of the Lebanese National Movement, in Beirut, 1 September 1982
For instance, in the port of Naame the Israelis bombed the population as well as the factories. They also carried out wides pread sabotage, for example dynamiting some factories after they had occupied N aame. These actions could not have any military purpose.
They are also cutting down the orange groves in the south on the pretext that the Palestinians are hiding in these orchards to carry out guerrilla raids. These orchards exist on both sides of a road which runs 50 kilometres from Sidon to Tyre. On both sides there are oranges and all types of fruit and vegetables. But this is not a jungle that the Palestinians can hide in, this is trees of oranges and bananas and other crops. The reason [for cutting them down] is the economic competition between the Lebanese products and the Israeli products. . .
I believe there is a plan to destroy all touristic installations, for instance the Hotel Summerland, Maryland, Coral Beach, which are first class, modern, American-style hotels on the coast – all completely destroyed. Also the airport: even after the occupation they stole everything from the airport. From the palace of UNESCO they have stolen considerable paintings and cultural heritage; paintings too from the Lebanese University – and from the faculty of science they have stolen all the equipment. .
The tobacco factory have been destroyed, also the Ghandur factory – it’s one of the largest in the Middle East; all kinds of alimentation and chocolate are made there. This factory, which was 300 metres of building, was damaged before the occupation but not all was destroyed. After the occupation the Israeli troops took everything and then destroyed it, destroyed with dynamite and they burned some parts of the factory.
There was a variety of approaches to these factories. Sometimes the Israelis would steal, sometimes they burn so that people can see they have been burned, sometimes they would use dynamite. Under all conditions they stole all the equipment and machinery, specially electronic equipment. They have stolen even two aeroplanes, one helicopter and another private plane. The Israeli press have spoken about this [but] they have not returned the planes. The Israeli troopers have even stolen television sets from homes in areas where they have occupied, and videos. [There are] a lot of scandals about Israeli soldiers taking these videos on the tanks on the way to Israel to sell them. Israel has announced [it] in the Israeli press.
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Extracts from an interview given to the Commission by Lebanese Prime Minister Shafik al-Wazzan in Beirut on 2 September 1982.
. . . One has to say one thing: that mistakes lead to blunders and harm entails evil. The Palestinian cause was not solved in 1948. They are waiting for their retUrn to their homeland. They tried all possible means through the UN, the Arab governments, and by other means, but to no avail… As the Palestinians became desperate and hopeless because they could not return to their homeland by the intermediary of the UN, the Palestinian guerrilla movement took shape. . . The big mistake of the UN was to recognise the right of a people to have a country and to throw out the original inhabitants of that country. . .
Every time something took place in Palestine, the Israelis threatened Lebanon. Lebanon carries a heavy burden because of the Palestinian presence. . . We know that the Israelis have a long expansionist plan to settle the Palestinians elsewhere. They say you, the Lebanese, should take some Palestinians and settle them in the south of Lebanon and in the Bekaa region, and the Arab countries should take charge of settling the rest of them. With this expansionist idea, Israel takes the pretext to invade or attack, using the argument that the purpose of its invasion is to arrive at a distance whereby the inhabitants of Galilee are no more subjected to any attack. And now they have reached a distance very far from their northern borders. There is already a phrase. . . that the Land of Israel is from the Nile to the Euphrates. Israel has succeeded with the help of its greatest ally to take the Arab world little by little: the Golan Heights, the West Bank, Gaza, and now the Lebanon. I don’t know whether they will leave . ..
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Interview with Marwan Hamade, Lebanese Minister of Tourism, in Beirut, 3 September 1982. Also present were Mustafa Durneika, Minister of Agriculture, and Munir Abu-Fadel, Deputy Speaker of the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies.
Hamade: Despite the accuracy of the Israeli [war] machine, we can ask why did they systematically hit hospitals, schools, dispensaries, religious monuments, mosques, factories (or loot what was not destroyed), hotels and touristic complexes, namely Carlton Hotel, the Coral Beach, the Summerland? Why did they loot Beirut airport, looting totally [the] mechanical department of the MEA [Middle East Airlines] which services almost all planes?
They stole from the Trans-Mediterranean Airways and the Aero Club of Lebanon, even flying out projectors and transmitters from the airport terminal. (This was much after they have occupied it and battles have ceased to take place.) This is why we think they are trying to deprive Lebanon economically and socially and of its glamour, even in the eastern sector of Beirut. They looted mountain schools: the Jesuit School of Jamhour, Ecole Notre Dame, Mont La Salle School, College des Freres Maris [?], College de I’Ordre Antoniah, College Louis Wagman in Bshemoun and College Athena in Bshemoun.
Commission: Did the looting follow the same pattern or was it random?
Hamade: It looked random, but with a green light. The Lebanese military commander, General Souweid, said that he spent his time running after the Israelis. They tried to interfere with the banking system, imposing on the banks to give them a complete list of their clients and their accounts, thus violating the bank secrecy which [?covers] the flow of all capital out of Lebanon. But the banks refused to comply with their attempts. In my own department they have destroyed touristic complexes and first estimates of the financial loss are 120-150 million dollars in this sector. They have tried to impose a touristic flow to Israel, in order to handicap national couriers and force Lebanese to take El AI, the Israeli national airline. This picture can be completed by what Mr Durneika can tell you as Minister of Agriculture. Durneika: For two months we could find nothing but Israeli vegetables and fruits. The light industry sector was destroyed, along with the tourist sector and the [trade in] vegetables and fruits to the Arab countries. [Their] first idea is to bring the Lebanese population to accept the idea of cooperating with Israel at very cheap prices (because the Israeli products are subsidised), so [that] the Lebanese people will like to buy their cheap vegetable products. Our products are usually exported to the Arab world, but now everything is closed [and] our farmers are in a very bad situation. They do not have enough income to cover their expenses.
They have cut [down] all orange trees on the road to the south, in order to have a better view and a better way to get the ‘terrorists’ away from the camps. This was done after the PLO departure.
They destroyed our research centres, our Ministry centres in the south and in the Bekaa, because they say the PLO had used these centres. They stole all our equipment, vehicles, trucks, shovels. All what we need to work with in the fields, they stole it, even small tractors given by the Ministry of Agriculture in a loan for the farmers.
Q: Who were ‘they’: Israeli soldiers or officers? Is it a plan?
Durneika: It is an organised operation.
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Testimony given to the Commission in Jerusalem on 8 September by Gideon Spiro, employee of the Israeli Ministry of Education and former journalist and reservist.
I made it quite clear to the army that I was not ready to participate either in the war in Lebanon nor to serve in the occupied territories. I think that Israeli society went through – and is still going through a process of dehumanisation and ‘fascisisation’ in its values. We are now in a very interesting moment where Israeli society still enjoys democracy, mainly for Jews. I mean, a Jew like me can say what he wants, but we are in a very delicate moment today since we don’t know when this democracy will finish. Because I believe that, with the present values, Israel is ready for a military junta – if, of course, it is directed against Arabs and against leftists and against doves. I think Israeli society is in a process of South Africanisation: we have a clear policy of apartheid vis-a-vis the Arabs. The Hebrew language is full of racist expressions which are already in daily use and people use them without feeling that they are using expressions which, if they are used against Jews abroad, we would be very sad and angry and protest against it. Like you would say in English ‘bloody Jew’: it’s an expression which shouldn’t be used in civilised circles, but today in Israel, in conversations between Israelis, if you want to say this work here is very badly done, you said it is ‘avodah aravit’, ‘Arab work’.
For instance, our prime minister Begin introduced in one of his speeches in the Knesset a new expression when he wanted to describe the Palestinians: he called them ‘two-legged animals’. This is very similar to some expressions the Nazis used against the Jews, when they compared them to rats, for instance. What Israel did in the last 15 years since ’67, they made a dehumanisation of the Palestinians. If they are equal to animals on two legs, this is actually saying we should exterminate them.
You see, what happened in Israel is that all the wars are ‘luxury wars’ . . . We don’t pay the price of anything that we are doing, not in the occupied territories, because Israel is in this a unique miracle. There is no country in the world which has over 100% inflation, which is occupying the West Bank, occupying another people, and building all these settlements with billions of dollars, and spending 30% of the GNP on defence – and still we can live here. I mean, somebody is paying for everything, so if everybody can live well and go abroad and buy cars, why not be for the occupation? So they are all luxury wars and people are very proud of the way we are fighting, the quick victories, the self-image of the brave Israeli – very flattering!
Now the war of 1982 – Begin said it on television – he said this war finished the trauma of the 1973 war, the Yom Kippur war, because now again we had a quick victory. He said it after two weeks of the war, and of course the Chief of Staff said that the war in Lebanon is one battle in our war for the Land of Israel. They did not make a secret that the war in Lebanon is part of a big strategy to break the political leadership of the Palestinians, to break the PLO, in order to be able to do in the West Bank whatever they want. This is not an interpretation: it is clearly stated by them. . . And of course this is the goal of the big plan of [Minister of Defence] Sharon, which again is not a secret: to break the Palestinian national will by destroying the PLO, throwing them out of Lebanon and establish a regime friendly to Israel. . . then overthrowing King Hussein and establishing [in Jordan] a Palestinian state and sending there at least half the population of the West Bank. . . leaving behind only those [Palestinians] who are needed for labour, because the West Bank is, for Israeli purposes, only like Soweto.
It’s cheap labour. Go in the afternoon at 4 o’clock to the West Bank and look how the buses bring back the Arab workers from Beersheva, from Jerusalem, fmm all the Jewish cities around – and this is like Soweto. These are the sleeping [ie dormitory] cities. But there are too many of them [Palestinians] today, close to one million; the ratio is not good and the plan is, in the sterile Hebrew words they use today, to ‘clean the West Bank of Arabs’ by sending them to Jordan. . .
I think what is the strongest today in the Israeli leadership is the thing called in Hebrew a dybbuk. You know what is a dybbuk? It’s not a devil; it’s an obsession. They have an anti-Palestinian obsession which, I believe, is not controlled. How can a Palestinian state endanger Israel? It is impossible to speak logically about it. But as long – and here I come to the point – as long as Israelis don’t have to pay the price, as long as we don’t have to stand in queues and decide, either sugar or settlements, either petrol for the car or control of Lebanon – as long as you don’t have to [choose], then you can support everything. . .
There is no country in the world which has such support as Israel. Israel gets more than 50% of the foreign aid of the United States. Look, Israel gets – not per capita, but in absolute figures – more US aid than India with its 600 million people. Israel got from the United States since 1948 such sums that we could actually not work at all, just live from what they are giving us . . . The Common Market has a balance of trade with Israel of 2 billion dollars and as long as they don’t make a blockade on trade with Israel, they’re helping Israel. And as long as the United States is ready to finance Israel with over 3 billion dollars a year, then Begin can do whatever he wants. That’s all; it’s very simple. But once Reagan will say to Israel: ‘You want to do what you want to do: do it at your own cost not at mine’, then Israel would for the first time have a real choice. He [the Israeli] wants the settlements, he wants the territories, he wants to control another people? OK, no food, no sugar, ration everything, no petrol. Then at least I would know they are ready to sacrifice: but now I have the goods of all the worlds together, you see? And this is something that we in Israel cannot do anything about, as long as the US and the Common Market are ready to support Israel in such unbelievable amounts. You see, then this country can do whatever it wants.
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