After “30 years of military vehicles in Lebanon”, “Tiran in Lebanese Wars” and “Military Vehicles in Lebanon 1975-1981”, the Lebanese military historian Samer Kassis comes back with his 4th book. This time with a spotlight on the 1982 Israeli military invasion of Lebanon, called Operation Peace in Galilee. Often unfairly summed up in a confrontation between the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), the Palestinian militiamen of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and the Syrian army (which has occupied Lebanon since 1976), this new chapter actually involves a greater variety of belligerents, such as Lebanese militias of the National Movement, including among others the Nasserist organization Al-Mourabitoun, the Arab Socialist Union, or the PSNS (Syrian Social-Nationalist Party).
The first part of the book begins with the IDF Israeli Defense Forces: 262 photographs show the wide variety of land vehicles engaged by the army of the State of Israel, light vehicles (Ford Mutt , M38 jeeps, M325, etc), M60, Centurion and Merkava battle tanks (For some of these vehicles, 1982 in Lebanon being the year of their baptism of fire), armored M113, half-tracks, self-propelled and towed artillery and specialized vehicles.
The second part focusses on the heavy armament and the vehicles of the different Palestinian militias, mostly regrouped within the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization): recoilless guns, jeeps and armed pickups, but also, symbol of the Palestinian will to build a real army in Lebanese territory, different armored vehicles like BRDM-2, BTR-152, and local copies of the West German UR-416, without forgetting vintage battle tanks T -34/85 from Hungary. This parts ends up with trailed artillery and multiple rocket launchers, ranging from the Chinese Type 63 of 107 mm to the powerful Soviet BM-21 of 122 mm.
The third part is a dive within the Nasserite organization Al-Mourabitoun, then stationed mainly in the western neighborhoods of Beirut, and loyal ally of Yasser Arafat’s PLO. Once treated light-armed vehicles of all types, the bulk of this chapter is devoted to the armament and heavy vehicles of Naserite militia – BTR-152 armed with twin-tube ZU-23, self-propelled ZSU-23-4 Shilka, BM-11 multiple rocket launcher type-59-I howitzers. Then come numerous shots of T-34/85 tanks, a departure gift from the PLO to its Lebanese allies, a Hungarian exclusive vehicle whose photographs on the Lebanese theater have never before been published concludes this chapter in style.
The fourth part includes various photographs of the militias of the National Movement: the Popular Guard (armed wing of the Lebanese Communist Party), the PSNS, the People’s Liberation Army (armed wing of the Progressive Socialist Party), militiamen of the Arab Socialist Union, and the Arab Lebanon Army (ALA).
The fifth part of the book concerns the Syrian Arab Army, occupying de facto a large part of the Lebanese territory from 1976, and the Syrian Army of Liberation of Palestine (ALP) under command: light vehicles, trucks (GAS -66, ZIL-130, ZIL-157), armored vehicles (BRDM, BTR-60, etc …) and battle tanks (T-54/55, T-62) are here widely represented, the photographs being taken either after fighting against the IDF, either during the withdrawal of the Syrian Army and the ALP from Beirut in September 1982, or during the regrouping phases of the war booty captured by the Israeli army.
The sixth and final part is another historical exclusivity, since it proposes no less than 27 photographs taken by an officer of the ALA (Army of Arab Lebanon) during the battle of Sultan Yacoub: in June 10 and 11, 1982, took place one of the most violent armored clashes of this conflict, when a column of Israeli tanks falls into an ambush by the Syrian army, the Palestinian militia of the PLO, and the Lebanese militia of the ALA: 3 IDF Magach 5 tanks will be destroyed while 6 others were captured.
Finally, with more than 500 unpublished photographs, Samer Kassis’s “1982, Invasion of Lebanon” is an essential reference for all contemporary military history enthusiasts and modelers, who will undoubtedly find many references and inspirations for their future achievements.
Article written by : Mathieu Morant.