IDF Unveils Orders for 1982 Lebanon War

Blast from the rugged past: hitherto-top secret documents are a throwback to times when IDF was able to fight hard, achieve victory.

Gil Ronen ,

Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon visit the Bea
Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon visit the Bea
Ministry of Defense - IDF Archive

Thirty-three years after the First Lebanon War, the IDF has published hitherto-secret documents detailing the orders issued to the IDF at the launch of the war, in the first week of June 1982. The documents are a reminder of the time in which the IDF was able to fight short, tough wars and defeat its enemies.

Then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Refael Eitan told the IDF to conquer southern Lebanon and join with Maronite Christian forces in Beirut 96 hours into a lightning invasion. In reality, this was achieved within a week's time. The military was also instructed to annihilate any Syrian force that stood in its way – and achieved this, too, when a Sayeret Matkal commando unit encountered a Syrian commando unit and destroyed it with the aid of artillery.

The IDF was told to place Israeli communities out of the range of terrorist missiles – and did so successfully.

The conquest of Beirut forced Yasser Arafat and his PLO terrorist forces to leave the city and go into exile, in faraway Tunisia. In 1985, the IDF withdrew the forces in Lebanon southward, to occupy a swathe of southern Lebanon it called the Security belt. 

All this had changed some years later. In 1987, the First Intifada broke out, and Israel faced an extended uprising in Judea and Samaria. In 1993, Israel under Yitzhak Rabin agreed to let Arafat into Judea and Samaria and establish an armed network. Seven years later, under pressure from a demoralizing leftist media campaign, the IDF withdrew from the Security Belt in southern Lebanon in a hurried fashion, motivating Arafat to launch an awful terror war that killed over 1,200 Israelis.

By 2006, when the IDF launched the Second Lebanon War, it was a weaker army, which found it difficult to overpower a far inferior Hezbollah guerrilla army. Today, Hezbollah has over 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said it seeks to cover all of Israel with intense fire. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak recently warned Israel was unprepared for such an attack, which would involve accurate missiles.