Preferred Citation: Ron, James. Frontiers and Ghettos: State Violence in Serbia and Israel. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c2003 2003.

Alternatives to Policing

The 1982 War

An assassination attempt in 1982 against Israel's London ambassador triggered an Israeli invasion dubbed Operation Peace for Galilee by its

planners. Its goal, broadly speaking, was to destroy the PLO's organizational infrastructure in Lebanon.[56] Although the group did not pose a threat to Israel's existence, it was able to harass civilians and represented a diplomatic and psychological challenge to Israel's long-term control over the West Bank and Gaza. As Khalidi noted, PLO leader Yasser Arafat had become "a head of state in all but name, more powerful than many Arab rulers. His was no longer a humble revolutionary movement, but rather a vigorous para-state, with a growing bureaucracy administering the affairs of Palestinians everywhere, and with a budget bigger than that of many small sovereign states."[57] Given their long-term plans for West Bank settlement and annexation, Israeli officials saw the PLO's growing stature as deeply problematic.[58] During the 1982 invasion, Israeli forces used violence on a grander scale than ever before, but also worked closely with local militia allies. According to some reports, Israeli leaders hoped—and perhaps even engaged in concrete planning—to engineer the expulsion of Palestinians from Lebanon.

Israeli warplanes began the war with a June 4 series of air raids, killing 45 and wounding 150.[59] Two days later, Israeli armored columns began advancing through southern Lebanon, including 90,000 troops, 2,600 armored vehicles, and hundreds of warplanes and artillery.[60] As was true during Operation Litani, Israeli commanders planned to limit their own casualties by first shelling suspect urban areas. As Israeli scholar Avner Yaniv noted, officers decided to use "masses of artillery" and intense air support, "even at the cost of heavy civilian casualties among the Palestinians and the Lebanese."[61] This tolerance of non-Jewish casualties, coupled with the Palestinian habit of basing guerrilla forces in urban areas, led to widespread loss of civilian life.[62] According to one Israeli trooper, orders instructing infantrymen to respect civilian life seemed meaningless when refugee camps were first "mercilessly shelled and bombed."[63] As Israeli academic Yehoshua Porat wrote, "The heavy bombardments, the enormous destruction and the high number of casualties" established a "most horrifying moral principle: Jewish blood is worth more than any other blood."[64] As another Israeli journalist opined, one of the war's central themes was "massive harm to Lebanon's innocent civilian population."[65]

Casualty rates attest to the invasion's intensity. Lebanese officials put the summer 1982 death toll at 18,000, of whom 2,000 were combatants, estimating an additional 30,000 injured; other sources argued for 12,000–15,000 civilian deaths and 40,000 wounded.[66] Israel's casualty toll for the same period was 368 dead and 2,383 wounded, all combatants.[67]

Lebanese property damage was also quite extensive. A June 1982 UN report, for example, reported that Israeli forces destroyed 35 percent of the houses in the Bourj el-Shemali refugee camp, 50 percent in El-Buss, 70 percent in Rashidiye, and 100 percent in Ein Hilwe; in Shatila camp, over 90 percent of the homes were destroyed or badly damaged, while all structures in the Bourj el Barajneh camp were entirely destroyed. Overall, estimates put damages at $12 billion, with 500,000–800,000 internally displaced persons.[68]

Witnesses seemed awed by the ferocity of Israel's actions. Reporter Avraham Rabinovich wrote that the effects of shelling on Tyre and Sidon were "numbing," while Robert Fisk reported that air attacks on Sidon "must have been among the most ferocious ever delivered on a Lebanese city … it looks as if a tornado has torn through the residential buildings."[69] Some of the worst damage occurred in Ein Hilwe refugee camp, where Israeli correspondents wrote that a "thick, black cloud of dust and smoke hung" as Israeli "artillery and planes pounded away … on and on … for days."[70] In his diary, Israeli officer Dov Yermiya wrote that "the quantity of bombs and shells" that Israeli forces poured into Ein Hilwe reminded him of World War II, while another Israeli reporter wrote that the camp had been transformed by shelling into "two square kilometers of twisted broken rubble, putrid rubbish and torn and shattered personal belongings." According to Lebanese authorities, the bombing killed some 600 persons.[71] Israeli forces used similar tactics against other camps, saying they contained underground guerrilla facilities. Cluster, fragmentation, and phosphorous munitions were reportedly used in populated areas, with painful results.[72] Media reports suggested some Israeli officers had opposed the indiscriminate bombardments, but that their opposition gave way due to their fear of Israeli infantry casualties.[73]

This violence was taking place in Lebanon not Palestine, highlighting the importance of institutional context. Had such methods been used in the ghetto, Israel would have been tearing at the very fabric of its own state. When aimed at Palestinians or Lebanese living beyond a sovereign border, however, no such trauma was involved. Israel's Lebanon offensives targeted external enemies situated beyond Israel's zone of empirical and juridical sovereignty, and thus did not disrupt established patterns of internal state governance. That Ein Hilwe was externalized while the West Bank camps were situated in the ghetto, however, was historical accident.

Israeli forces drove farther north, reaching Beirut on June 12, besieging 20,000 guerrillas and 300,000 civilians until August 21, when the

PLO withdrew under a United States-brokered deal.[74] Israeli artillery initially focused their fire on Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut's south-west, but when that failed to compel a PLO surrender, they began firing at the rest of West Beirut, with devastating effect. In early August, an International Herald Tribune report said that Israeli forces were "pounding heavily" Beirut's residential areas, trapping residents without the money to flee.[75] On August 1, 4, and 12, Washington Post correspondent Jonathan Randal wrote that Israeli forces "subjected West Beirut to punishment so intensive and indiscriminate that terror was the result." August 12, according to Israelis Schiff and Ya'ari, was "a nightmare in which the saturation bombing came on top of a massive artillery barrage," killing at least 300 residents.[76] On August 8, a British report said U.S. embassy cables to Washington observed that "tonight's saturation shelling was as intense as anything we have seen. There was no ‘pinpoint accuracy.’ … It was not a response to Palestinian fire. This was a blitz against West Beirut.… The magnitude of tonight's action is difficult to convey."[77] On August 16, journalist J. Michael Kennedy wrote that "whole neighborhoods" had disappeared, saying that Beirut had become a "city of broken concrete, flattened apartment buildings and death."[78] Lebanese officials estimate that in Beirut, 5,525 persons died and 11,139 were wounded from early June to September 2, 1982. According to the International Red Cross, 80 percent of those casualties were civilian.[79]

Alternatives to Policing

Preferred Citation: Ron, James. Frontiers and Ghettos: State Violence in Serbia and Israel. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c2003 2003.