The killings in June in Borg Rahal and Bidias, southern Lebanese villages of scarcely two thousand people each, testify to the continuing troubles of the Israeli military occupation of southern Lebanon that began two summers ago. With Israel distracted by its foundering economy and Lebanon by the continuing fighting and negotiations in Beirut, southern Lebanon seemed to have faded from attention when I visited the region recently. The news from Borg Rahal reached me on the second day, in the seaport of Tyre, only twelve miles from the Israeli border. When my driver maneuvered our beat-up Toyota seven miles past coastal orange groves and up a one-lane country road into the dry hills east of the Mediterranean, several dozen men were filing out of the village mosque. I was immediately spotted as a foreigner among the conservative Shi’ite Moslems, whose women were wearing traditional chadors. We were in the Shi’ite heartland of southern Lebanon. A few of the men, recognizing me as a reporter because I carried a spiral notebook and a Nikon camera, led me inside the mosque for an inspection of “evidence.” On the marble manbar, or pulpit, there was an axe, a crowbar, a beige-colored tear-gas cannister with Hebrew lettering on the side, and six spent bullet casings which clinked together in my hand when I picked them up.
Ali Khoraiss, a village leader, told me that a man named Hassan Sahli, twenty-three years old, was killed just before midnight the previous day, June 11, after tough-looking men—later identified to me by the Israeli Defense Force as agents of the Israeli internal security service, Shin Bet—had arrived carrying automatic rifles to arrest the dead man’s brother, Hussein, for suspected guerrilla attacks on Israeli soldiers.
Khoraiss said: “The Israelis went to Hussein’s house but he was not there. His mother would not say where he was, so the Israelis stayed for almost an hour. Many young men started a protest outside, and when they were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) we heard shooting. It lasted about twenty seconds at 11:15 PM sharp. Then the Israelis left in their cars.”
By then outside the mosque, along one of the streets of squat concrete block houses, the funeral procession was beginning, with as many as five hundred agitated men. Many were young and bearded and came from neighboring villages. Nine of the men hoisted the wooden coffin of Hassan Sahli, and the forty-minute march to the small cemetery became a demonstration against the Israeli Defense Force. With their fists punching the air, the men yelled over and over again, “Al Mout Lasrael” (Death to Israel), “Israel Shaytan Akbar” (Israel is the greatest devil), and “Israel Shaytan Moutlak” (Israel is the original evil). They became quiet only when they removed the white shroud from Hassan Sahli’s face and lowered his coffin into its grave next to an olive tree. In the tradition of Islamic martyrs, who are allowed a direct passage to paradise for having died fighting an oppressor, the blood had not been washed from his body.
I heard about the killing in Bidias two days later, on the evening of June 14, at my hotel. The next morning in Bidias, on the same ridge of olive groves as Borg Ranal, I was taken to see Daoud Daoud. He is a stocky, soft-spoken man, who was intensely bothered by a summer allergy. Daoud is the leader in southern Lebanon of the Amal Movement, a Beirutbased paramilitary and political organization which is supported by most of Lebanon’s Shi’ites. He happens to live in Bidias, and was among the mourners for the slain man, Morshid Nahas, twenty-eight years old. I found Daoud on a patio with a large group of men sitting in a semicircle, many still weeping in grief. He told me the village’s story of how the Israelis came.
“There were fifteen men in three cars, all white Mercedes. The men wore civilian clothes. They went to Morshid’s motorcycle repair shop here on the square and shouted, ‘Morshid.’ One of them grabbed him and put his hand over Morshid’s face. They put him in a car, but Morshid is very strong and resisted, and they could not get his legs inside the car. Many women went to the square and surrounded the Israelis and tried to pull Morshid out of the car. Finally, the man who was the commander of the men said, ‘Leave him.’ He said it in Arabic, they all spoke in Arabic, in order to cheat, to make us think they were Lebanese. But you can tell someone who speaks an accent that’s not your own. Morshid was walking away when the commander of the men said, ‘Kill him.’ Then a few men opened fire and shot Morshid.”
One of the mourners brought a sack with twenty-three spent bullet casings inside, and then Daoud took me to the street not far from the patio and pointed to where Morshid Nahas had died, in front of his mother and wife, against a low concrete block wall which showed brown bloodstains and twelve freshly made bullet holes.
Borg Rahal and Bidias raise questions about Israeli tactics that have been raised before, often by the Israelis themselves, about the estimated eighteen thousand dead in the invasion and siege of Beirut in 1982, the Sabra and Shatila massacre of Palestinian refugees, and the countless pre-invasion reprisal raids using a policy of heavy retaliation against the PLO that also took the lives of many hundreds of Lebanese.
The tragedy of Borg Rahal and Bidias, and for all southern Lebanon, is that the people here initially welcomed the IDF. It rid them of a mutual enemy, the PLO. Moslems and Christians threw rice and handed out flowers to the Israelis, offered them candy and water. Israel may have feared commando and artillery attacks across the border, but the southern Lebanese lived daily with the heavily armed, undisciplined, and often abusive Palestinian guerrillas. The Amal Movement, of which Hassan Sahli and Morshid Nahas were members, was formed largely to protect Lebanese Shi’ites from PLO excesses. Amal nearly launched its own war against the PLO and Morshid Nahas was buried with a bullet slug still in his left leg from the days when he was defending his village from the PLO.
For Israel, the irony is that the prolonged occupation—while Israeli politicians and generals work out their latest “Lebanon Solution” to keep away Palestinians and safeguard their northern border—is creating a new enemy. This enemy is the Lebanese, particularly the conservative Shi’ites. The Shi’ites have long been at the bottom of Lebanon’s social and economic scale but have become increasingly radical under the influence of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution. Shi’ite Moslems make up between 40 and 50 percent of the country’s population of three million, and 58 percent of the 885,000 people under Israeli occupation. South Lebanon has long been one of the most important Shi’ite centers outside Iran.
A war between the occupiers and the Shi’ites has, in effect, already begun. Almost daily there are guerrilla bombings and ambushes and harsh Israeli counter-measures. The IDF soldiers call the Shi’ite heartland where most attacks occur the “Iron Triangle”; it encompasses Tyre and Sarafand on the coast and the major Shi’ite city of Nabatiyah fifteen miles inland. In Israeli eyes, the Iron Triangle differs sharply from the friendly Christian area to the southeast that forms a small hump on Israel’s northern frontier. According to the IDF, nearly 40 percent of the approximately six hundred Israeli deaths in Lebanon have occurred since the expulsion of the PLO. The International Committee of the Red Cross says all but a small number of the 554 inmates at the Ansar detention camp in mid-June were Lebanese Shi’ites and not Palestinian guerrillas.
Southern Lebanon, about one-third of Lebanon’s 4,015 square miles, has long been considered a distinct region. The Israeli occupation zone covers this region, falling between the Awali River, the Israeli border, the Mediterranean, and the 9,200-foot Mount Hermon in the east. That the occupation would be prolonged, and perhaps even become a “North Bank,” became a greater fear of the Lebanese when Israel in effect sealed off the region in February. This was apparently in part as retribution for increasing guerrilla attacks. But it coincided with Israel’s decision to carry out a new “Lebanon Solution” just at the time it was writing off President Amin Gemayel, with whom Israel had signed a peace treaty on May 17, 1983. Gemayel’s Christianled regime appeared on the verge of collapse; he eventually held off a Moslem offensive supported by Syria and remained in power only after unilaterally abrogating the peace treaty.
The trip from Beirut to southern Lebanon now takes three days in a car. The IDF effectively closed the coastal highway on which one could travel from Beirut to Tyre in sixty minutes. My drive from Beirut was on the only open route, through the central mountains, via the village of Bater a-Chouf. The broken highway raised suffocating dust in the summer heat. Israeli permits are required for passage, and for Lebanese it is a frustrating procedure and also apparently intimidating. The road is closed two days a week, on the Jewish and Christian sabbaths. To use the road the Lebanese must first report to a small prefabricated office in Bater a-Chouf to undergo questioning by Israeli army intelligence officers. Many men do not see their families in southern Lebanon because they hold jobs in Beirut, a situation worsened because telephone lines are cut.
The Red Cross has raised questions about the possible violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires the occupation authority to ensure the safety of civilians in the occupation zone. Shin Bet agents, wearing ordinary clothes and riding in regular cars with Lebanese plates, now frequently arrest suspects. Often young men are arrested by the dozen in sweeps following guerrilla attacks. Collective punishment in the form of curfews is sometimes imposed on villages.
The growing suspicion and fear were often made plain to me during my three weeks of travel. In Deir Kanoun el Nahr, a village in the “Iron Triangle,” I decided on a whim to pay a visit to the family of a friend from Beirut that had offered the customary Lebanese hospitality to me a year before. At first I was not recognized, and when I mentioned the name of my friend, his sister denied any knowledge of such a person. Danger is real for many people because the Israelis allow certain collaborators to carry pistols and even Kalashnikov assault rifles, and they have on occasion settled old scores. Some of these collaborators in turn have been found murdered with silencer-equipped guns.
The sealing off of southern Lebanon has been a disaster for the regional economy, depending as it does on getting its agricultural products to markets in Beirut and other customers in the Arab world. An American diplomat told me that if such figures existed, the unemployment rate in southern Lebanon could easily be between 30 and 40 percent. The South Lebanon Chamber of Commerce says agricultural income is now only between 60 and 70 percent of the annual pre-invasion average of one billion Lebanese pounds. On the coastal plain I saw fruit rotting in the orange, lemon, and banana groves, and it also spoils in warehouses while awaiting shipment. Farouk Zaatari, part owner of the largest fruit exporting business in southern Lebanon, told me his books showed a thirty-million-pound loss since the Israeli invasion, compared to usual annual profits of 80 million pounds. Fifteen percent of Zaatari’s fields are unharvested, and the IDF bulldozed 2 percent of his fields following guerrilla ambushes in the area.
The practice of dumping Israeli products in the Lebanese market, though aided enthusiastically by some Lebanese businessmen, is harming regional producers. I saw Israeli apples, cherries, watermelons, and vegetables, still in their boxes showing their Hebrew advertising, in markets throughout the region. The Israeli Civilian Assistance Unit in southern Lebanon displays a chart showing their month-by-month success at Israeli exports. The most profitable method is back-to-back exporting in which a Lebanese businessman, usually a Christian but often a Moslem, orders goods from an Israeli producer and takes delivery at the international border. Between June 1982 and last February, Israel had sold $74.9 million in goods this way. With southern Lebanon’s ports closed by the Israelis to many imports, businessmen use the Haifa port in Israel and have paid more than $20 million in duties. As of now, no Lebanese goods are imported by Israel.
In the past, Israel has often tried to solve its Lebanon problem by fostering a strong Christian central authority aligned to Israel. The latest solution is to turn over southern Lebanon to the South Lebanon Army, created, financed, trained, and equipped by the Israeli government. It is hard to imagine this succeeding where previous solutions have failed. The IDF acknowledges many of the obstacles.
A half-hearted offensive in the 1948 war aside, the Lebanese have never attacked Israel, staying out of the Arab wars in 1956, 1967, and 1973. The cycle of PLO terrorist attacks and Israeli reprisal raids over the border began to intensify after the PLO’s expulsion from Jordan by King Hussein in 1971. The situation for Israel became intolerable in 1976 when, as Lebanese central authority broke down during the civil war—which the PLO helped to bring on—the PLO held something close to full control in Beirut and southern Lebanon.
Israel’s first major “Lebanon Solution” was the “Litani operation” in 1978, when twenty-five thousand troops pushed into southern Lebanon to create a cordon sanitaire six miles wide, free of terrorists. Under American pressure the IDF withdrew three months later, handing over much of the captured area to the newly created United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. But it left pockets of territory, especially the Christian hump attached to Israel’s border southeast of the Shi’ite heartland, in the control of Israel’s ally in southern Lebanon, the renegade Lebanese army major Saad Haddad.
The cordon sanitaire became Haddad’s “Free Lebanon,” but it failed to become a permanent solution that would satisfy Israel’s concerns about the political and military threat posed by the PLO. The air, land, and sea invasion of 1982 was meant to break the PLO altogether and possibly install another Lebanese ally, Bashir Gemayel, the Maronite commander of the rightist “Lebanese Forces” militia in Beirut, as the pro-Israeli president of Lebanon. This ended in disaster when Gemayel refused to sign a peace treaty and then was assassinated, presumably by Syrian agents, before he could assume office.
The peace treaty of May 17 between the Israeli government and Gemayel’s brother Amin, who became the Lebanese president, was the next proposed solution. This, too, ended badly, giving Israel none of the fruits promised in a peace treaty and helping to spoil national reconciliation efforts in Lebanon after almost a decade of domination by the PLO. Gemayel accepted the May 17 treaty under intense American pressure. It was mediated with spectacular naiveté by George Shultz, who flew to the Middle East to negotiate an Israeli pullout immediately after two serious setbacks for the Reagan administration. On April 10, King Hussein issued a long statement setting forth the reasons why he would not then enter talks based on Reagan’s Middle East peace plan (partly because Reagan failed to secure an Israeli withdrawal in Lebanon). Eight days later, the suicide terrorist bombing of the US Embassy took place in Beirut, killing sixty-three people, including many Central Intelligence Agency officials.
Shultz’s effort was doomed because he failed to work out a deal with Hafez Assad’s totalitarian regime in Syria. The Israelis refused to withdraw their 30,000 troops until Syria pulled out its 40,000, some of which first came into Lebanon as a “peace-keeping force” during the civil war in 1976. Lebanese officials and Western diplomats have talked of private assurances from Syria that if Israel had withdrawn its forces unilaterally, the Syrians would have done so as well, while still maintaining influence on the negotiations for “national reconciliation” in Lebanon. But the subsequent breakdown of Gemayel’s regime, with the issue of the peace treaty with Israel providing fuel for the opposition to him, made it unthinkable for the Israelis to stage a unilateral withdrawal. They feared terrorist infiltration back into southern Lebanon in the absence of a strong central Lebanese authority.
Israel’s latest attempt to ensure a friendly border, like its predecessors, relies heavily on a natural alliance with the Western-leaning Christians at the risk of further alienating the majority of Moslems in southern Lebanon. The South Lebanon Army was a direct outgrowth of the one-thousand-man border strip militia commanded by Haddad until his death from cancer last January. Its stronghold is in the Christian area around Marjayoun, the capital of Haddad’s Free Lebanon, on a hilltop overlooking the Galilee, less than five miles from the Israeli border. Maronite and Greek Orthodox Christians gratefully live under Israeli protection, protection not afforded them by their own government. Indeed, some ten thousand people here have Free Lebanon identity cards for travel to Israel, and thousands take holidays, shop, and even work in the Jewish state. Israel has built roads linking the Christian villages, and sent physicians to staff the hospital in Marjayoun.
Lebanon’s sectarian troubles have rarely afflicted the southern region I visited, but the prospect of a Christian-dominated South Lebanon Army trying to control a region that is at least 75 percent Moslem, including the Shi’ite Iron Triangle, makes many Lebanese fear that sectarian conflict will break out. In June, the South Lebanon Army had 2,400 men, 66 percent of them Christian. Attempts by the IDF to recruit more Moslems have met resistance. Recruitment is not helped by the practice of many South Lebanon Army men of keeping the IDF insignia in Hebrew sewn above the shirt pocket of their hand-me-down IDF uniform. Only two of the 2,400 men are trained officers, including the commander, retired Lebanese Maj. Gen. Antoine Lahd, a Maronite from the Chouf mountain region to the north. Many recruits told me they joined mainly for the money, 1,850 Lebanese pounds monthly. Another sign of future trouble is that the Shi’ite guerrillas have begun attacking South Lebanon Army patrols.
The IDF officers I talked to believe it will take at least two more years before General Lahd’s men can step in and the IDF can withdraw. The South Lebanon Army’s target is 6,000 men. The IDF appears willing to accept that it will always have to be involved in southern Lebanon. At the headquarters of the IDF Link Unit for Lebanon in Marjayoun, I asked an Israeli officer, Maj. Menachem Malichi, who deals with the press, about the strategy.
“The purpose is in the future we are going to build the [Lahd] army so it will be able to take care of and replace the IDF in all of southern Lebanon. I’m not talking about a political point of view, but from a military point of view. The politicians will decide it…. They [Lahd’s men] will never be able to stand on their own two feet and pay their own salaries. They will need to be in touch with us, the umbilical cord. Always. It is their army to protect their lives and homes. They know what it is like to be without protection, without an army. But they will always need our protection and training. We will help them because we have the same goal. They don’t want the terrorists and we will help to keep them out. It is good for them and good for us. We will live as good neighbors.”
I asked Malichi about the killings in Borg Rahal and Bidias, and about the restrictions imposed on the people of southern Lebanon who, after all, had not so far threatened Israel’s existence. He described the Shi’ite guerrillas as terrorists who were not supported by the population, which only wanted to live in peace. A good-natured man who emigrated from Yemen to Israel, Malichi said he had no information about the incident in Bidias but he confirmed the killing of Hassan Sahli in Borg Rahal. He put it down to Shin Bet men acting in self-defense. “They went to the village to arrest some people and the whole village turned out and threw stones. By trying to get out of Borg Rahal they fired in the air. But I don’t know how, it was in the middle of the night, a man was killed.”
If the villagers did not have arms, was it necessary to open fire? I asked.
“You are trying to protect yourself and get out. You are under danger. They threw stones and they threw everything they had in their hands. They threw knives and so on. We have very strict commands on when you can open fire.”
Malichi explained the IDF policy of tighter control and crackdowns on people who may be plotting guerrilla attacks, or people who may sympathize with the resistance, including southern Lebanese farmers.
“We know the village. We know every single home. We know the houses of the families. We know everything. Who controls the village. The mouktar [mayor]. What kind of agriculture they have. We have a book on the village. The ones with the links to terrorists get nothing. Trust us, we know. We have a list. We have friends in the village that can tell us very easily who is contacting whom and we have full cooperation from them…. [Farmers] get permits. If he has the papers and so on, he can cross [the Israeli lines to export produce]. If he has links to somebody, we don’t want to give him a prize for acting against us. It is a system of carrot and stick. Those that are okay, they get everything. Those that act against us, we have to beat them a little bit, beat them in the pocket. It’s the hardest.”
If no strong central Lebanese government emerges from the present Syrian-sponsored efforts at national reconciliation, an IDF presence for two more years will be a heavy burden for Israel. During the recent Israeli election campaign, both the Labor and Likud candidates said they hoped the Israeli soldiers north of the border—there are an estimated 15,000 there—could be brought home soon. Yitzhak Shamir hedged on making a clear commitment to withdraw, while Shimon Peres said he would arrange a pullout within six months. This may not be as easy as it sounds. IDF officers in southern Lebanon fear chaos among Christian and Moslem factions if a premature withdrawal takes place. They point to the sectarian war that broke out last September after the IDF moved out of the Chouf mountains.
Any Israeli government will be considering whether the risks of withdrawal outweigh the strategic gains. There can be little doubt that large strategic considerations were central when Israel launched its invasion two years ago, especially in view of the fact that the PLO had respected an agreement negotiated by the United States in 1981 to halt PLO attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon. One apparent strategic aim was to buy time for Jewish settlement on the West Bank while demolishing the power of Yasser Arafat, who seemed to be gaining more and more respectability in the eyes of the Western nations.
Another likely aim, which was not fulfilled, was to eliminate Syrian influence in Lebanon. If Israel remains in southern Lebanon, or can successfully install a surrogate army there, it will keep up pressure on Syria, its most hostile enemy. Syria’s armed forces are equipped with Soviet-made air power and armor and SAM-5 surface-to-air missiles with a range of 180 miles that can shoot down planes over Tel Aviv. From Lebanon, the IDF could drive through the Bekaa Valley to Damascus, only twenty-five miles away, while armor in the annexed Golan Heights formed the second prong of a classic pincer movement against the Syrian army. There is no evidence of Israeli tampering with the coveted Litani River, but a longer occupation would keep open the possibility of drawing on the Litani for development as Israeli water needs intensify over the coming years.
One of the nightmares for many Lebanese is that Israel and Syria, seeing mutual advantages in remaining in Lebanon, may come to an “understanding” that would enable both to maintain spheres of influence in their occupation zones, either with their own troops or with surrogates if some troops are withdrawn. This, Lebanese nationalists fear; would mean the final partitioning of Lebanon. There have been signs Israel would like to reach some kind of deal with Syria, if only to prevent a flash war from igniting in the Bekaa Valley, where Israeli and Syrian troops face each other across an often tense no man’s land.
The IDF soldiers I talked to in southern Lebanon and in Israel told me that they and many of their comrades would like to leave. “I was with the first forces that entered Lebanon,” one of them told me. Pointing to his chest, he said, “A woman took off her jewel and pinned it here. You felt like a hero. Now people look at us as invaders, not liberators. People don’t express it, they are polite, but we are clever enough to know how they feel.”
A variety of Shi’ite groups are determined to force an Israeli withdrawal, either through political or military pressure. They have grown in power on the Lebanese scene since the PLO was expelled, and no one who talks to their members can doubt they are inspired by the Islamic revolution in Iran. The important and the most representative of the Shi’ite groups is the Amal Movement, founded in 1974 by Musa Sadr, an Iranian-born Imam. Amal regards Khomeini as a leader of the Shi’ite faith, but it rejects the concept of an Islamic state in Lebanon and advocates coexistence with Christians. Sadr disappeared during a trip to Libya in 1978 and is thought of as a Messiah among most of Lebanon’s Shi’ites, who believe he will return alive.
In Sadr’s absence, Amal’s political wing is headed by Nabih Berri, a lawyer from the southern Lebanese village of Tibnine. After Amal’s successful uprising, with Syrian military aid, against the Lebanese army last winter, Berri was invited to join the new cabinet formed this spring as minister for south Lebanon. Berri has shown himself to be a coolly tactical leader. He continues to support Sadr’s goal of a nonsectarian Lebanon in which the long underprivileged Shi’ite community would have political power in proportion to its large numbers. He says he recognizes Israel’s legitimate need for the security of its northern border and is willing to offer Israel security arrangements. These may not meet Israel’s conditions as defined in the peace treaty of May 17, but Berri’s statements assume Israel’s right to exist.
At the same time, Berri has the support of Sadr’s spiritual stand-in, Sheikh Mohammed Mehdi Chamseddine, who has issued fatwas, or interpretations of religious law, declaring it a sacrilege to cooperate with the Israeli occupation authorities. This has no doubt hindered the IDF’s attempts to recruit more Shi’ites for the South Lebanon Army in order to avoid the stigma of the army’s being seen as a Christian force. Although many of its members have taken part in guerrilla attacks, Amal has neither mobilized for an armed struggle in southern Lebanon nor called for one, and it officially wants a political solution. It warns that a popular uprising will take place if this is frustrated.
At first the guerrilla campaign was organized not by Amal itself but by Al-Moukawama Al-Wataniyeh Al-Lubnaniyer, or Lebanese National Resistance. It was apparently a cover for the Lebanese Communist Party and the Organization of Communist Action in Lebanon, both of which have large Shi’ite memberships and were allied with the PLO.
It is, however, not these communist groups but the militant Moslem fundamentalists, who look to Khomeini for political guidance as well as spiritual direction, that have now become a shadowy force whose real strength is unknown but whose potential power is taken very seriously in Beirut and southern Lebanon. They lack Amal’s decade-old organization, and are divided into many smaller village groups that do not have close connections to one another. But their umbrella organization “Hizbollah,” or Party of God—which previously was more active outside southern Lebanon—provides a potential power base as the fundamentalist clergy spread their influence, using the issue of the Israeli occupation to rally support.
Unlike Amal, Hizbollah leaders, many of whom visit Iran regularly, believe Israel is an enemy of Islam and advocate its destruction. In my own talks with some of them, they made it clear that they would want to establish a major power center in southern Lebanon when the Israelis withdraw. The Israelis have blamed Hussein Musawi, a Hizbollah activist who broke away from Amal two years ago, for organizing the spectacular suicide attack against American, French, and Israeli military bases in 1983. Israeli jets responded by bombing Hizbollah training camps in the Bekaa Valley, where Musawi had his base and receives support from about 350 Iranian Revolutionary Guards sent by Khomeini to help the PLO after the Israeli invasion.
It remains to be seen how effective such retaliation can be. A principal appeal for Shi’ite Moslems is the theme of suffering and martyrdom as it was enacted in the murder of the prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Hussein. A noticeable rise in the number of guerrilla attacks occurred after a confrontation between IDF soldiers and Shi’ites in Nabatiyeh last October. The incident disrupted a procession of the annual Ashoura which commemorates the massacre of Hussein and some of his followers in the year 680.
Extreme fundamentalism remains a minority movement in the Lebanese Shi’ite community, but clearly it is a growing force, one that might eventually present grave problems to both Lebanon and Israel. I recall talking with a seventeen-year-old Moslem fighting the Christian militia in Beirut last winter. He identified himself as a follower of Hizbollah. He was just a boy, wearing a grubby “Los Angeles Olympics 1984” sweatshirt that he had picked up from a street vendor. But he had a Kalishnikov automatic rifle, and was eager to talk about the enemy. He was telling me that bombardments by the Christians only made him more determined, stronger, to resist. Then to make sure I understood who he considered was the real enemy, he went on, “Israel is like a snake in Lebanon, Imam Khomeini said that.”
—July 17, 1984
August 16, 1984