From the Vaults: The Times, July 24, 1982

Michael Weiss has brought to my attention an article by Robert Fisk that appeared in The Times during the Lebanon War of 1982. Fisk explained how PLO men were not overly concerned about the survival of Lebanon. He also noted that the Palestinians admitted that they used schools, hospitals as well as residential houses as cover for their anti-aircraft guns.  Below I copy an extract from that article.

Letter from Beirut

A cause more precious than the survival of Lebanon

Robert Fisk

The Times, July 24, 1982, p.20.

…. The contempt with which the Palestinian guerrillas treated the Lebanese was almost subconscious. Down in the south Lebanese village of Bent Jbeil one day in early 1978, a Fatah member was explaining to me that civilians were always free to move around the area. Did that, I asked, include the Maronites from the north? “Oh no,” he immediately replied. “We don’t want foreigners here.”….

The Palestinian revolution was, it transpired, more important than Lebanese lives. The Palestinians could identify themselves with the leftists of Lebanon’s Muslim community but when this pact was put to the test, the battle for Palestine become somehow more holy – the integrity of the Palestinian cause more precious – than the survival of Lebanon….

The Palestinians – as they now admit – had used schools and hospitals and civilian houses as cover for their anti-aircraft guns once more. The state of Lebanon turned out to be worth less to the Palestinians than the unborn state of Palestine….

A few nights ago, a young armed Palestinian walked up to me in the street, an intelligent, brave man whom I have known for some years. He was troubled by the reports of negotiations for a PLO withdrawal. “We will never withdraw,” he said firmly, “and if the Israelis come into west Beirut, we shall destroy it all with them. If necessary, we shall destroy all Lebanon.”