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February 08, 1985 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-02-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, February 8, 1985

25

An Israeli column of armored
personnel carriers speeds along a dusty
Lebanese road.

BY JERRY CHESLOW
Special to The Jewish News

outhern Lebanon — The Israel
army redeployment in Lebanon is
way ahead of schedule, despite torren-
tial rains. Several weeks ago, the Is-
raeli government decided that the first
of three stages in the withdrawal to
the international border would be corn-
plete by February 18. However, the
front line units have already moved
out nearly all non-combat equipment,
leaving soldiers sleeping in tents and
without field toilets or heaters.
"It's a question of motivation," said
Major Zvika, who is in charge of dis-
mantling an enormous vehicle service
center on the Zaharani River, east of
the Lebanese city of Tyre.
"Something changed here when we
heard that we were leaving Lebanon.
The soldiers are working very hard
because they are thrilled to be going
home. We are working in all weather
conditions, even heavy rainstorms."
The evacuation was organized ac-
cording to detailed computer program,
to ensure that maximum use is made
of the equipment taken from the front
line. The Israel Defense Forces worked
out the program, one of the lessons of
the Lebanon war in which millions of
dollars worth of equipment has dis-
appeared.
Most of the IDF buildings in Leb-
anon are either prefabricated struc-
tures that can be dismantled or alumi-

S

Jerry Cheslow is a journalist who hues in
Israel

num and wood structures that were
built in Israel and transported to the
bases. Since Israel never intended to
remain on the current line per-
manently, the trenches were fortified
with steel and corrugated iron, which
can be removed, rather than concrete,
which is permanent. All of this equip-
ment is being hoisted onto flatbed
trucks for removal to Israel.
"We are taking everything with us,"

The soldiers are working
very hard because they are
thrilled to be going home."

said a senior officer at the scene.
"Whatever can't be moved or is too ex-
pensive to take, we will destroy. The
remains will be plowed under. And the
Lebanese will get exactly what was
here when we arrived — dirt."
Security on the roads is tight. All
major intersections are blocked off by
halftracks and barbed wire, to prevent
local traffic from breaking up the con-
voys. Security jeeps equipped with
two machine guns each guard the front
and rear of the lines of trucks. The
sides of the roads are constantly
scoured by foot patrols, to detect land
mines or remote control bombs.
Officers leading the patrols make
sure their men wear flak jackets,
helmets and safety goggles, and keep

their rifles cocked. "Before we set out
every day, I refresh my soldiers' mem-
ories," said one patrol leader, Lieuten-
ant Yisrael. "I tell them that since the
government decided on the redeploy-
ment, our job has become much more
dangerous. I tell them not to let their
guard down because the terrorists
know we are leaving and will try to
strike at us as we withdraw."

The February 18 line is meant to be
temporary. No final date has been set
for the final pullback. But sources in
the Defense Ministry predict that the
IDF will be out of Lebanon by Octo-
ber. Therefore, practically no buildings
will be set up on the new line.
Under the circumstances, most Is-
raeli strategic experts agree that the
IDF cannot remain on the interim line
for long. There are few natural barriers
which could make good, inexpensive
defensive positions.

But, Azi continued, "We are a card
game between Syria, Israel and the
United States. They give us tanks and
other weapons to make war. It may
have been Lebanese Druze who drove
the Christians out of 60 villages in the
Shouf Mountains (following the Israeli
withdrawal from that area in Septem-
ber 1983). But they were armed by
Syria. The war will end only when the
big powers finish playing cards."
Other Christians at the bridge re-
fused to give their names to reporters
for fear of being identified for later

revenge by other Lebanese communi-
ties. "I cooperated with Israel," one
man from the Christian town of Jez-
zine said. "I had a dream of a Chris-
tian state in Lebanon and an alliance
of the two non-Moslem states in the
Middle East. Now, the Christian
dream is dead. I'm moving out 10
minutes before the first Israeli soldier
leaves Jezzine."
It is not surprising that people who
cooperated with Israel are afraid.
Even with Israeli forces occupying the
towns and villages of south Lebanon,
30 local leaders known to have co-
operated with Israel have been
assassinated in the past three months.
Others found notes posted to their
doors, warning them to "repent" or
face a similar fate.
Batir A Shouf is used mainly by
Shiite Moslems. Christians find it is
dangerous to cross the Druze con-
trolled Shouf Mountains to reach the
bridge.
Lines of men, women and children
sit on their suitcases for hours, waiting
for thorough security checks. The
Shiites on the long lines are candid in
their view that Israel has overstayed
her welcome.
"When the Israeli forces arrived, we
greeted them with sweets and rice,"
said .Ali, a tall Shiite in his late 20's.
"You helped us rid the country of the
Palestinian cancer. But now you have
become the occupier. You are dividing
our country. I've been waiting at the
bridge for seven hours already and I
don't know when I'll cross. If Israel
would just leave, we wouldn't have to
put up with this."
Like many other Shiites, Ali claimed
that Shiite terror was directed only at
the Israeli occupation and that it
would not follow Israeli soldiers across
the international border. He also main-
tained that after the IDF withdrawal
there would be no bloodbath as var-
ious Lebanese factions struggle for
control of the areas Israel evacuates.
"The population of the south will
unite behind the Lebanese army
(which is deploying in the region), to
prevent a power struggle and stop the
Palestinians from re-establishing their
bases in the south," he said. "Like
Israel, we don't want the Palestinians
taking over again. And the only way
to stop them is if we don't fight each
other."
However, Dr. Heller of Tel Aviv
University believes there will be a
power struggle among the various fac-
tions. He further believes that the
Shiites will emerge as the dominant
power in southern Lebanon, except for
a border strip that will be controlled
by the South Lebanon Army.
"Topographically, it is a difficult line
to defend," explained Dr. Mark Heller,
deputy director of Jaffee Center for
Strategic Studies - at Tel Aviv Univer-
sity. "In many ways, it will be more
permeable to terrorist infiltration than
the old line."

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