Israeli armed forces numbering close to 80,000 invaded Lebanon on this date in 1982, four years after an Israeli invasion that had pushed the armed forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) north of the Litani River. The 1982 action, commanded by Ariel Sharon, was meant to complete the destruction of PLO infrastructure along the border and end the frequent missile and terror attacks on communities in northern Israel, but Sharon extended the operation to Beirut. Syria then launched military operations with 30,000 troops and fighter planes in eastern Lebanon, only to be neutralized by Israeli war planes. Laying siege with its Christian Phalangist allies, Israel forced from Beirut some 14,000 PLO fighters and their leader, Yasser Arafat, who were allowed to evacuate under the protection of a multinational force. Shortly after, the Phalangists, under Israeli gaze, slaughtered some 800 Palestinian residents of the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, which resulted in Sharon being officially criticized in Israel and removed (briefly) from political office. The war in Lebanon did not end until 1985. Its results included the end of national political coherence for Lebanon; the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin; the consolidation and empowerment of Hezbollah; and more than 1,200 Israeli military deaths, almost 10,000 Palestinian and Syrian military deaths, and somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000 civilian deaths, according to various estimates. To see a composite ABC News report on the 1982 Lebanon War, look below.
“There is abundant evidence that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed on a wide scale in the Sabra and Shatila massacre, but to date, not a single individual has been brought to justice.” —Hanny Megally, Human Rights Watch