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Tall al-Za'atr R.C. /Destroyed - مخيّم تلّ الزعتر/مدمّر : THE BATTLE OF TEL ZAATAR

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Posted by Za'tari on October 3, 2010
Please Note:

The information bellow is part of a secret ,now declassified study by the US army about the civil war in Lebanon , it is a study concerned with battles , weapons and tactics and as such it doesn't convey the whole story or the magnitude of suffering inflicted on the inhabitants of Tall al za'ater.

The primary sources for the study bellow are the attackers of Tall al za'ater, the defenders points of view is absent, nonetheless,chronologicaly and descriptively it is very detailed and accurate , I should know as I lived in tall al za'ater continuously from 1968 to the day it fell.

I would like to emphasis to all those who may read this ,especially young Palestinians of many generations to come ,that:

1- The area of operations in the report refered to as Tall al za'ater included a built up area of about 100 buildings inhabited by Lebanese Muslims mainly from south Lebanon it was known as Ras al Dikwaneh its Lebanese inhabitants suffered the same fate as the Palestinians and its buildings were blown up after the fall of the camp .

2- The camp at Tall al za'ater was destroyed in the first week of the attack and most of the fighting was in and around the above mentioned built up area.

3- It is a myth that Tall al za'atar was heavily fortified or it had a network of tunnels , the camp had very few bomb shelters but Ras al Dikwaneh being newly built had a bomb shelter under almost every building as required by civil defense laws legislated after the 1967 Arab Israeli war which allowed the inhabitants to survive all that bombardment.

4-You will read about the role of Syria in the fall of Tall al za'ater ,which was true, equally true ,there were Syrian soldiers Manning the anti aircraft guns that made Tall alza'atar a formidable place and well defended place ,these soldiers with their 14.5mm, 23mm ,37mm and SAM 7 strellas stationed at Tallet al Mir protected the camp from Israeli air attacks for many years and fired everything they had including their sam7 defending tall al za'atar.

5-A very significant number of Lebanese ,Syrian and Iraqi fighters died defending Tall alza'ater during the battle at tall al za'ater while many Palestinan fighters affiliated with al Saiqa in tall al za'ater choose not to fight and to hide in a church till they made arrangements with Syrian military intelligence to go through the phalange lines at Dikwaneh and on to Syria.

6- Along with Syria, Israel was an active participant in the attack on Tall al za'atar as indicated in the report by supplying the attackers with the super chairmen tanks that were stationed at Dayr Mar Rukos and were under the control of general Michael Aoun who was directing the attack and the 155mm artillery bombardment from Dayr Mar Sha'aia , also one month before the start of the attack , five Israeli air force jets flew a reconnaissance mission over Tall al za'ater for the purpose of collecting aerial images that would help formulate the attack plans.

7- You will read in the report that the defenders prevented people from surrendering which prolonged the siege and suffering , that is true as many families had ran out of food and were starving but were prevented from surrendering under threat of summery execution ,however , in exchange for some food rations they were required to fetch water which was a suicide mission that lasted 12 to 18 hours being lined up in the open at the mercy of snipers ,,, needles to say a large quantity of food was left behind at SAMED warehouse at the time the camp surrendered.

8- The very same people who prevented starving civilians from surrendering, on the last day of the siege , put on new military uniforms , lined up double file with their guns slung over their shoulders as if on a parade and at 6 pm which was 2 hours before sunset , walked through enemy lines at mansuriyeh and on to safety .


THE BATTLE OF TEL ZAATAR

The taking of Tel Zaatar, a heavily fortified Palestinian camp east
of Beirut, was part of a Christian campaign to rid their heartland of
enemies and potential enemies. Tel Zaatar, along with another Palestinian
camp, Debayyeh, was principally inhabited by Palestinians, most of whom
belonged to the radical wing of the PLO. The camps of Jisr el-Basha,
Sin el-Fil, Nabaa, and Karantina were inhabited by a mixture of Lebanese
Muslims and Palestinians. Debayyeh, which was somewhat removed from the
others and largely populated by Christian Palestinians, fell quickly on
January 14, 1976, after three days of fighting. It had not been heavily
fortified. The camps of Tel Zaatar, Sin el-Fil, Jisr el-Basha, Karantina,
and Nabaa formed a string of mutually reinforcing strongholds of which
Tel Zaatar, by virtue of the ideology of its defenders, its strategic
location, and weapons (many of which were captured--see weapons list),
was the most important. It sat astride one of the principal road links
from the mountain heartland to Beirut. The stronghold at Jisr el-Basha
threatened the main road from Beirut to Damascus, and posed a threat to
the Christian defenders of the Furn ash-Shubbak/Shiyah/Ain al-Rumaneh area.
The strongholds at Sin el-Fil, Nabaa, and Karantina surrouded the
.principal links between east Beirut (Ashrafiyeh) and the Lebanese Christian
north in terms of both the coastal and mountain roads. These three camps
threatened lines of supply and reinforcement to east Beirut and occasionally
shelled the Christian sector of the city. Thus, the camps were a key
element in the Christian strategy.
In the early stages of the civil war Christian action against these
strongholds was constrained by two factors: the unwillingness (at that
stage) of the Christians to take actions that would precipitate open
Palestinian intervention in the war; and Christian militia manpower and
weapons shortages (some of which were brought about by the necessity to
deploy these resources elsewhere, principally in Beirut itself).

Once the Muslim strategy of seizing the port area and encircling
east Beirut became clear, Christian resource priorities changed and
manpower and equipment were more available, but on a selective basis.
Karantina was the first camp to fall (January 18). The decision to
capture it was based on two factors: the camp was inhabited mostly by
Lebanese Muslims, so taking it would not necessarily bring on Palestinian
intervention; and Karantina sat astride the main road the Christians
needed to resupply and reinforce their positions in the hotel and port
districts.
By blunting the Muslims' two-pronged attack aimed at the port of
Beirut and the suburbs of Shiyah and Ain al-Rumaneh, the battle lines
stabilized and, therefore, the remaining strongholds of Tel Zaatar, Jisr
el-Basha, Nabaa, and Sin el-Fil no longer posed a threat to east Beirut.
Thus, from a strictly military point of view, the Christians could have
refrained from taking these strongholds. However, a number of other
factors intervened which sealed the fate of Tel Zaatar and the surrounding
camps. First, Tel Zaatar had become psychologically important to
the Palestinians and their Muslim/leftist allies, and, therefore, to the
Christians. The Palestinians had begun to refer to Tel Zaatar as Stalingrad.
Thus, in a sense, it was a challenge to the Christians. Second, the
Muslim/leftists had retaliated for Karantina by overrunning and leveling
the Christian town of Damour with the open aid of the Palestinians. Thus,
revenge interjected itself as a factor, especially for Camille Chamoun's
NLP, since the town of Damour had been one of his principal strongholds.
It was the NLP that launched the attack on Tel Zaatar. The third factor
was the disintegration of the Lebanese Army, which meant that the required
expertise, equipment, and manpower were available for a major battle.
Fourth, the Palestinians likewise had now come openly into tho conflict
on the side of the Muslim left, mooting the Christian fear of precipitating
Palestinian involvement. Finally, the decision to take Tel Zaatar occurred
at a critical junctire after several major political developments had
radically altered the likely alignment of forces.
e Syrian attitudes towards the Palestinians and their Muslim/
leftist allies had changed in the wake of Kamal Jumblatt's rejection of
the constitutional reforms prepared jointly by Presidents Hafez Assad
and Suleiman Franjieh which had been agreed to by the Christian right.
e Kamal Jumblatt was unwilling to accept further Syrian mediation
or Syrian-sponsored ceasefires.
* Consequent upon the changing Syrian attitude, the opening of a
serious breach between Saiqa, the Syrian-sponsored group, and most of the
other guerrilla groups belonging to the PLO was increasingly evident. In
fact, Saiqa forces in Tel Zaatar left the camp and were allowed to escape
by the Christian attackers in deference to the new Syrian role.
The Christians first laid siege to Tel Zaatar on January 1, 1976.
This first siege was limited to a blockade of food and medical supplies.
In a sense it was an attempt by the Christians to force the Muslims into
redeploying their forces which at that time were heavily engaged in the
hotel and port areas. Since the Christians were then hard pressed in
the hotel district, central Beirut, Ain al-Rumaneh, and Shiyah, little
more than a blockade of food and medical supplies could be considered.
Once the battle lines began to stabilize, around the end of March 1976,
the Christians were able to begin to mass for the eventual takeover of
Tel Zaatar and its sister strongholds. However, a serious disagreement
between the Phalangists and the NLP, the spring Muslim/leftist/Palestinian
offensive in Mount Lebanon (around Ain Toura and Mtein) to cut the
Christian supply route to Zahle and Faraya, and a series of Syriansponsored
ceasefires and mediation agreements culminating in the massive
intervention of the Syrian Army on June 1, 1976, delayed the implementation
of plans to take Tel Zaatar.
Tel Zaatar, a refugee camp of about 3,000 dwellings, held approximately
20,000 inhabitants prior to the beginning of the Lebanese conflict. In
the period from January 1, 1976, through June 22, 1976, a number of families,
fearing the worst escaped. As tensions between Saiqa and other Palestinian
groups grew and often erupted into warfare, Saiqa fighters began to
evacuate Tel Zaatar. Conversely, however, the PLO began to reinforce the
camp, and large amounts of ammunition, weapons, foodstuffs, and medical
supplies were stored for the approaching battle.
The camp had an area of approximately 74 acres and was predominantly
composed of temporary dwelling units built of concrete and stone with
corrugated steel roofs. The southern perimeter of the camp abutted on an
industrial area where the buildings were constructed primarily of reinforced
concrete frameworks with concrete roof3 and cinderblock or hewn rock
curtain walls. These buildings were generally two to three stories high.
On its western perimeter the camp adjoined a high-density residential
apartment area. In the main, these apartment buildings were six to seven
stories high and were built of reinforced concrete frameworks with cinderblock
or sandstone. An occasional two-story villa built on a reinforced
framework with hewn rock curtain walls could be found among the apartments.
To the north and east the camp was overlooked by a series of sparsely
inhabited hills covered with umbrella pines, olive trees, and scrub brush.
These heights form the foothills of Mount Lebanon which in this area
quickly rise to an altitude of 2,400 to 5,800 feet.
The west and northeast of Tel Zaatar could be approached by a fourlane
highway. On the east-west axis Tel Zaatar was accessible by a twolane
road which is a major link between Beirut and the Christian heartland.
In the north-to-northeast area the hills overlooking Tel Zaatar were served
by tertiary roads some of which were hard-topped and others little more
than dirt tracks.
The camp itself had electricity and running water but in insufficient
quantities to supply the 20,000 or so residents. Moreover, a large number
of the camp dwellers could not afford electricity and running water even if
it had been available, and therefore, relied on kerosene lamps and stoves
and on a communal water supply fountain. The camp possessed an adequate
first-aid station and dispensary, and was linked to other UNRWA (United
Nations Relief and Works Agency)-sponsored medical facilities run by the
Palestinian Red Crescent for the handling of more serious cases. Although
no public transportation system served the camp, residents relied
principally on private cars, jitneys, and buses for transportation.
Combatants
The Christian attackers of Tel Zaatar numbered approximately 1,800--
500 from the Phalange, 500 from the NLP, 300 from the Lebanese Army,
along with about 400 others coming from the Tanzim and the Defenders of
the Cedars. The number of combatants varied, however, from day to day
depending upon the intensity of the fighting and headquarters' perceptions
of the need for reinforcements in other areas. Only the Lebanese Army
14
was exceptional in this regard--its members kept up a constant fight
during the 51 days of siege. (The army figures are exclusive of the
soldiers of the Fayadiyeh barracks and those manning and defending the
communications center at Deir Mar Shaya and the artillery coordinating
center at Deir Mar Roukuz.)
The Palestinian defenders totalled approximately 1,500 at the
beginning of the battle. Their numbers decreased drastically through
casualties, Saiqa defection, as well as from the mass escape that took
place during the final two weeks of the siehd. On the day Tel Zaatar
fell it is estimated that the camp was defended by about 300 guerrillas
and contained no more than 4,000 civilians.
The Christian attacking force, then, combined regular army combatants,
disguised regulars (Tanzim), some seasoned militiamen, and some fairly
green and undisciplined militiamen. On the Palestinian side, the defending
force that remained after the defection of Saiqa and Syrian regulars
disguised as Saiqa forces, was composed of some seasoned guerrillas
belonging to the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), and allegedly, volunteers from
Arab countries supporting the PLO. Once the battle started every ablebodied
man and adolescent male was pressed into combat. Thus, in terms
of members and degree of professional competence, the attackers were
evenly matched with the defenders at the start.
Within the first ten days of the battle, the attacking Christian
force had achieved most of its objectives which were translated into a
six-pronged attack. Jisr el-Basha and Nabaa fell on June 29, 1976,
to a combined force of Lebanese Army regulars and Phalangist and NLP
militiamen. The attackers thus blocked the southern and western
approaches to Tel Zaatar. Within the same period the northern approach
at Dekwaneh/Sin el-Fil was blocked by a force principally composed of
Phalangists. To the east a combined force of about 100 soldiers, 200
Tanzim, 400 NLP militiamen, and 100 Defenders of the Cedal launched a
two-pronged attack and quickly approached the outer perimeters of the
camp, reaching the el-Moukalles industrial area on the main road from
the heartland to Beirut, and Deir Mar Roukuz along the tertiary road
serving the hills directly to the north of the camp. Thus, the capture
of Tel Zaatar and Nabaa, and the operations in Sin el-Fil and Dekwaneh
area were merely blocking operations--blocking escape and reinforcement.
The attack clearly was to come from the east on an east-west axis, since
the avenue of approach on that axis was at a higher elevation than Tel
Zaatar itself. The attacking force thus would be shooting down at Tel
Zaatar while the defenders would be forced to shoot upwards at the attackers.
In launching the attack, 155mm and 122mm field artillery pieces
were used in indirect fire, Super Shermans, Panhards, ANXs, APCs, M-42s,
and Staghounds were employed to convey and protect the advancing troops,
while 12 Panhards from the Fayadiyeh barracks provided direct fire against
the industrial southern perimeter buildings of el-Moukalles. (See weapons list).
Without field artillery, the defenders did have four tanks mounting
75mm cannon. Nonetheless, they were able to mount indirect counter-u
battery fire by using 36 Grad and 4 Katushia rocket launchers, and d rect
counter-battery fire with a combination of recoilless rifles. Both ides
made heavy use of mortars and anti-aircraft weapons.

Christian militias and Lebanese Army Christian forces:
* 155mm howitz.irs
* 122mm field artillery
* AMX-113s
* APCs
9 M-42s
"* Super Shermans
"* Staghounds
"* 80nu and 81mm mortars
"* 120-m. mortars
"* ZU-23 and 57mm AAA
"* B-10s
"؟ 106mm recoilless rifles
"* Panhards

Palestinians:
"* 75mm cannons
"* 80mm and 81mm mortars
"* 120mm mortars
"* ZU-23 and-37mm AAA
"* AK-47s
"* other small arms
Military Considerations Affecting the Siege
Discipline among the militias left much to be desired. They failed
in many instances to remain in their positions, frequently leaving their
posts for overnight trips home. Thus, the defenders could retake lost
positions, hindering the Christian advance. The militiamen often refused
to take suitable cover, and thus took inordinately high casualties. This
slowed the advance, as wounded had to be evacuated and replaced--maneuvers
that could only be performed under cover of darkness.
The attackers found the camp to be much better fortified than expected
and not seriously affected by the shelling and mortaring. Honeycombed with
underground tunnels and bunkers, which allowed the defenders to reach and
withdraw from the outer perimeters as needed without being seen or taking
heavy casualties, the camp also had tunnels through many of its buildings'
first-floor walls, permitting defenders extensive safe freedom of movement.
Although sniping was used by both sides, it was a far more formidable
tool in the hands of the defenders since they tended to fire from behind
cover provided by buildings at attackers in the open who in some cases
refused to take cover or observe fire-and-maneuver tactics.
Within a week of the Christian attack on Tel Zaatar leftist forces in
the north of Lebanon aided by Palestinians from the camps surrounding
Tripoli massed for an attack on the Koura region, ultimately taking Chekka
on July 5. This offensive forced the Christians to temporarily divert
some of their forces from Tel Zaatar to repel the Muslim attack and
recapture the region. The Christians were able to retake Chekka on July 7,
but had to keep a large force in place to defend the region from further
attacks.
As in the Beirut fighting, the Christians were quite anxious to
minimize their losses at Tel Zaatar. Heavy casualties would have had
an adverse effect on the Christian population, and would have led to
questions about the wisdom of taking Tel Zaatar in a situation in which
the lines had been stabilized and the Syrians had entered. Moreover,
significant casualties could have seriously lessened the ability of the
militias to recruit additional manpower.
Political Aspects of the Siege
The taking of Karantina and the worldwide coverage it received taught
the Christians a valuable lesson: rather than launch an all-out offensive
which could have resulted in high civilian casualties and strains on
relations with some friendly Arab countries, the attackers instead opted
for a war of nerves. Intermittent shelling and mortaring of Tel Zaatar
with the deliberate opening of escape avenues encouraged a large number
of the camp's civilian population to leave. The siege of Tel Zaatar prepared
Arab and Muslim public opinion for the camp's eventual defeat, and
thus its eventual fall was much less a shock and surprise than the
Karantina episode had been. Another reason for the intermittence of the
battle was the decision to allow Saiqa defenders and their families to
leave. Christians saw this approach as a means, first, of placating
Syrian public opinion (which, on the whole, did not support the thrust of
the Syrian intervention in Lebanon); second, of assisting the Syrians who
were cooperating with the Christians at this time; and third, and most
obviously, of reducing the firepower and manpower of the camp's defenders.
Tel Zaatar became a pawn in the political activities that accompanied
the Syrian intervention. As long as the Muslim/leftist/Palestinian bloc
refused to accept, and in fact resisted, the Syrian intervention in Lebanon,
Tel Zaatar could be used psychologically to sap their morale. It was
widely believed that the Muslim/leftist/Palestinian alliance could not
accept the psychological loss of the capture of Tel Zaatar. The Christians
repeatedly offered Yasser Arafat the peaceful surrender of the camp and
the safety of its inhabitants and combatants presumably in exchange for
some :ther strategic concessions on. the part of the Palestinians.
Preparation for the final Christian offensive against Tel Zaatar
started on August 5, 1976; the offensive itself began on August 10. In
the period between the first and final offensives a number of developments
occurred that made the outcome of the final attack inevitable:
* The first series of developments had to do with the Syrian advance
into Lebanon. The Syrian Army had occupied all of the Bekaa Valley,
reached the outskirts of Sofar on the main east-west highway linking
Beirut and Damascus, entered the environs of Ain Toura and advanced on
Sidon. In the north, the Syrian Army had also reached Tripoli and the
major Palestinian camps of Bared and Baddawi. The Syrian advance had thus
cut the major lines of communication between Muslim/leftist/Palestinian
forces operating in the Bekaa Valley, Sidon, and Tripoli. It was therefore
clear that Beirut was to be the ncxt major target. Therefore, the Muslim/
leftist/Palestinian offensive against the Christian heartland which had
been launched in the spring had to be abandoned as the leftists had to
concentrate their forces to blunt the Syrian advance on Sidon, Tripoli,
and Beirut. The Christians were then able to concentrate their forces on
17
Tel Zaatar, after recapturing Chekka and closing the Koura area to
Muslim/leftist/Palestinian forces. The Christians were also able to
bring some of their forces from Beirut to Tel Zaatar, since the battle
line in Beirut further stabilized as the Palestinians girded for the
showdown with the Syrians.
* There is every indication that the final offensive on Tel Zaatar
occurred with the tacit approval of the Syrian Army in Lebanon. In
fact, Syrian officers observed the assault from the vantage points of
various Christian headquarters. Also, in the few weeks prior to August 5,
a number of Saiqa combatants and civilians evacuated Tel Zaatar.
Tactics and Weapons' Effects
During the initial phase of advance, which took place during the
first two weeks, 155-n and 122-m field artillery pieces were used along
with mortars (see map) to keep the defenders pinned down. Most of the
temporary dwellings collapsed and some of the industrial buildings were
heavily damaged. The attacking forces on the two axes were able to
advance to the outer perimeter of the camp with ease. It was only after
they reached the southern perimeter of the camp that severe fighting
broke out that stalled the attack for political as well as military reasons.
The final battle was a Lebanese Army operation. A communication
network was established by signal officers of the Lebanese Army for the
purpose of coordinating the attack and artillery support. Armored cars
from the Fayadiyeh barracks were positioned to provide direct fire support,
and two of the three columns of attack were led by Lebanese Army offic,؟rs.
The third column was a blocking-and-dividing operation taken up by the
Phalangists in the Dekwaneh sector.
The advance on Tel Zaatar was made through two main corridors-o-n the
main road from Beirut to Beit Mern/Ain al-Rumaneh, and on tertiary roads
that connect Burj Hammoud to Beit Mern/Ain al-Rumaneh. Both corridors
run in a generally east-west axis.
The offensive was preceded by an artillery and mortar barrage from
Lebanese implacements in the higher hills overlooking Tel Zaatar. Under
the cover of artillery and mortar barrages, the Christian attackers were
able to advance south rapidly and reach the inner defense perimeter of
Tel Zaatar. Attacking soldiers were provided cover by APCs, armored cars,
and tanks which spearheaded the offensive. It was only when the attacking
forces reached the Inner perimeter that fierce fighting occurred. Using
nine Panhards (armored cars with 90mm cannon) positioned at Fayadiyeh and
Super Shermans (tanks with 76mm cannon) in direct fire, the Christians
were able to breach the inner defensive perimeter, which, as described
above, consisted mainly of two- to three-story industrial buildings. Once
inside the camp, it was up to the infantry, with some support of B-10s
and 106mm recoilless rifles, to take buildings, bunkers, and reinforced
positions.
Since the attackers were predominantly Christian soldiers and officers
of the Lebanese Army, fire-and-maneuver was observed in the advance.
When an element came across a fortified position on the second or third
story of a building, direct fire from the Panhards and Super Shermans
was used.
When an advancing element reached heavily fortified and sand-bagged
positions at a first-floor level, B-10s, 106s, and RPG-6s and -7s were
most frequently used, with telling effect. In certain cases drums full
of jellied gasoline and explosives were rolled up to the sand-bagged or
13
BEST AVAILABLE COPY
reinforced concrete walls and detonated by either time fuses or remote
control devices. In most cases, the detonated barrels not only breached3
the wall but also sprayed the defenders with burning jellied gasoline.
This, more than anything else, had a deep psychological effect on the
defenders in the camp. It led the Palestinians to claim that the
Christian attackers were resorting to gas warfare, and it reinforced an
idiosyncratic Arab fear of fire and death by fire. It was not long
before defenders began to run when they saw a barrel (whether or not it
in fact had gasoline inside) being rolled toward their positions.
Once inside the camp, where direct fire from Fayadiyeh could not
be brought to bear and where advancing Super Shermans could not maneuver,
the attackers, using ANPR-77s and small UHF radios, called for artillery
and mortar fire, giving the artillery coordinating center (see map) the
proper coordinates of the position to be shelled. This generally resulted
in relatively accurate fire, causing serious damage.
In certain cases, as pictures and films confirm, buildings were
actually blown up. It is difficult to determine, however, which buildings
were blown up during the course of the battle and which as part of the
Christian campaign to totally raze Tel Zaatar after the camp fell.
An estimated 8,000 rounds of ammunition from 155s, 122s, and a variety
of mortars fell on the camp during the course of the battle. Buildings
were hit time and again by a variety of rounds. Therefore, it is
impossible to describe the effect of the different rounds on different
buildings. Only in the outer southern and western perimeters (the
industrial and residential areas described above) can one clearly see
the effects of the different types of rounds. The picture that emerges
suggests these buildings withstood the shelling with medium to light
damage. In other words, they could have continued to provide defenders
with adequate cover had they chosen to stand and fight. Moreover, the
buildings could have been easily repaired and reinhabited.
Rubble in the outer perimeter area does not appear to be extensive,
and did not prove to be an obstacle to the advancing columns. Mines,
which were planted by the defenders at the edge of the inner defense
perimeter and in the camp as they retreated, were a factor deterring the
use of armor inside the camp. Another factor that deterred the employment
of armor there was the amount of rubble (most of the temporary buildings
having collapsed from artillery shelling) encountered. It may also have
been feared that the remaining civilian inhabitants, who were attempting
to flee, might have inhibited armor movement.
Civilians were both a positive and a negative factor for the camp's
defenders. Food, water, and medical supplies would have lasted the
defenders longer had the camp been evacuated of its civilians earlier.
Similarly, the dispensary was overtaxed because of the high number of
civilian casualties. From a morale point of view as well, the presence
of civilians was a detriment to the fighters. They were quickly informed
of casualties in their immediate and extended families, and were therefore
caught between having to defend the camp and find safe escape routes
for their families. Toward the end of the siege, fear of retribution by
the Christian attackers against the families of those commandos or
guerrillas who continued to defend the camp became an important psychological
factor.
19 j
On the other hand, the presence of the civilians and the International
Red Cross culminated in agreements between the Christians and
the Red Cross preventing a general massacre. The International Red Cross
was instrumental in securing the safe evacuation of civilians and the
wounded on several occasions. During these evacuations, certain fighters
and wounded commanders were evacuated.
The presence of the Red Cross helped focus international public
opinion on the plight of the civilian inhabitants of Tel Zaatar. The
camp's defenders were quick to take advantage of this by preventing a
total evacuation of civilians from the camp. In other words, as long as
the International Red Cross was on the scene and as long as there were
civilians in the camp, it was certain that the defenders would not be
massacred. They even had the opportunity to escape by dissimulating
their true identity and passing themselves off as civilians.
Christian casualties were evacuated in open trucks to small hospitals
five to ten miles away. Ambulances were either unavailable or not used.
The risks to those seriously wounded may have been considerably enhanced,
and their chances of survival substantially reduced, by the use of open
trucks where adequate preliminary treatment was not available. Furthermore,
evacuation routes were along hilly, narrow, and uneven roads which
must have complicated problems for those with broken bones or necks.
Trucks were also used by the International Red Cross to evacuate
Palestinian casualties, so the same reservations concerning treatment of
evacuees applies to both sides. However, some of the Palestinians were
treated at the camp dispensary where adequate care and preparation for
the evacuation took place.
On the day of the offensive, Christian troops reached the inner
perimeter of the camp, occupying PFLP headquarters. On the llth, they
captured the camp's last remaining water source and penetrated into the
camp capturing a key hill known as General Command Hill. On that day the
defense perimeter of the camp was reduced to between 200 x 500 yards and
400 x 800 yards. The camp's defenders by then numbered only about 300.
Tel Zaatar was finally captured on the morning of August 12, 1976.
Mop-up operations took place the entire afternoon to subdue scattered
resistance from Palestinian commandos trapped in some of the buildings.

June 22, 1976
Forces: leftists/Muslims/Palestinians v. Christian rightists
Sector: Tel Zaatar, Nabaa, Dekwaneh, Sin el-Fil
Weapons: artillery, rockets, and heavy machine guns
Comment: The most recent ceasefire broke down as the Christians launched
major attacks on Tel Zaatar and Nabaa. With the Syrian-leftist ceasefire
halting most of the fighting on battlefronts in the north, south and in
central Lebanon, the rightists were free to concentrate their forces
against these two camps. The Christians assaulted Tel Zaatar and Nabaa
with artillery rockets and heavy machine guns. Shells fell on the camps
at a rate of three per minute at times. Syrian forces and Saiqa forces
controlled by Syria left the Khalde area, including the airport, ending
their partial blockade of the city. Fighting between the Muslim and
Christian sectors of Beirut began. The Christians charged that Muslims
entered Dekwaneh and Sin el-Fil. Artillery, rocket, and mortar fire continued
the entire day between east and west Beirut.

June 24-25, 1976
Forces: leftists / Muslims /Palestinians v. Christians
Sectors: Shya؟h Ain al-Rumaneh, the cross point between east and west
Beirut, port area
Comment: In order to relieve pressure on Tel Zastar and Jisr al-Basha,
leftistsh~uslims and Palestinians launched attacks at recently quiet battle
lines. Leftist-Palestinian forces a mile east of Shiyah began an assault
toward the camps through Ain al-Rumaneh, gaining 200 yards after a day of
vicious conbat. Leftist forces, near the cross point between east and
west Beirut, advanced across the street from the National Museum to the
long-abandoned Ministry of Justice building.

June 26, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Palestinians
Sectors: Tel Zaatar, Jisr al-Basha, mountains east of Beirut
Weapons: artillery, mortar, machine guns
Outcome: high casualties for Palestinians; 50 Christians killed, 135
wounded
Comment: Christians launched fresh assaults on Tel Zaatar and Jisr al-
Basha, in one of the biggest battles of the civil war. The past five days
left the hillside zone littered with bodies. The camps were under a thick
cloud of black smoke from raging fires. Muslims and Palestinians attacked
Christian positions in the mountains eight miles east of Beirut. There
were artillery, mortar, and machine gun duels. In Beirut, missile duels
set dozens of apartments on fire. The city was without electricity, water,
or telephones and telegraph communications for three days. The duels sent
an estimated 10,000 Kutushia rockets and American 155mm shells
across the city. The power lines to Beirut were between Tel Zaatar and
the Christian area of Manourieh. Tel Zaatar was able to withstand the
heavy shelling due to a network of underground bunkers and tunnels built
months ago during combat lulls. The rightists attacked the camp with 4,000
men, some tanks, and considerable artillery suppo~rt. Members of the Libyan
peacekeeping force were charged by the christians with aiding Palestinians.
June 27, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Muslims and Palestinians
Sectors: southeast Beirut (Tel Zaatar, Jiar al-Basha), Beirut Airport,
Ain al-Rumaneh
Weapons: 155ui howitzers, artillery, mortars, rockets
Outcome: 200 killed, 300 wounded
Coument: Fighting continued in southeast Beirut, principally around
the cities mentioned above, for the sixth day. The last 24 hours were
among the worst in the entire civil war. A Christian radio station in
Beirut reported that rightists repulsed a Palestinian-leftist attempt to
penetrate the harbor, the adjacent Martyrs' Square, and the Bab Idris
quarter. A Boeing 707 passenger liner was blasted by artillery and burned
during bombardment of the airport.' The plane had landed and was sitting
on a runway 300 yards from the main terminal. On board was a crew of
three, no passengers. The pilot was killed, the other two wounded. A
155mm howitzer shell opened a 30-foot gap in the roof of the terminal
building. Abu Iyad, commander of the Palestinian forces, said he and his
allies accepted a truce arranged by Jalloud during the night. Muslims
and Palestinians still pushed into Ain al-Rumaneh from Shiyah in an attempt
to relieve pressure on the the two refugee camps under attack. The attacking
troops advanced about 200 yards across Sidon street. They had one
more mile of inhabited neighborhoods to go through (fighting was often
house-to-house).

June 28, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Muslims
Sectors: Tel Zaatar, Ain al-Rumaneh, Deir al-Qamar, Jounieh
Weapons: rockets, mortars, machine guns
Comment: Heavy fighting continued for the seventh day. Rightist for_-c
captured the high ground overlooking Tel Zaatar. The camp's fall was
imminent. The rightist attack force was estimated at 6,000 men and va-i
reinforced by Phalangist units under Gemayal, who stayed out of the O2L:_
until the 27th in order to encourage truce talks. The improving prospý,ý":
of success in the siege stiffened rightist resistance to an immediatc
ceasefire agreement. Leftists shelled the port city of Jounieh in re؟-i.؟-
tion for shelling the airport. The city's waterworks were destroyed.
IAA led the shelling. An estimated 13,000 Syrian troops in Lebanon &..
nothing to stop the fighting. Palestinian soiirces reported that Syria:
moved 4,000 more men and supporting tank columns into Lebanon. They ts- 7
the main body -if the new force laid siege to the Muslim town of Hermia :nd
one battalion attacked the leftist town of Arsal. Amin Gemayal, Pie-T
Gemayal's son, was personally directing the attacks on the these camps.
Christians also shellee western Beirut.

June 29-30, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Muslims and Palestinians
Sectors:- Tel Zaatar, Jisr al-Basha, Ain al-Rumaneh, Al-Hadath, . di-
Outcome: Jisr al-Basha overtaken; 300 Palestinians killed
Comment: The night of June 29, Jisr al-Basha was overrun by Christian
forces. Nabaa was also overrun by Christians. They were intensifying
their attack on Tel Zaatar. Leftist forces attacked Ain al-Rumanoh ind
Al-Hadath. Syrian troops advanced on the southern part of Sidon ,,ider an
umbrella of artillery shelling and surface-to-surface 107mm rockets.

July 1, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Muslims and Palestinians
Sector: Tel Zaatar
Comment: Tel Zaatar continued to hold out against the siege. However,
it was a grim situation. The Palestinians charged that the Christians
massacred 500 people when they took over Jisr al-Basha. The leftists
and Palestinians appeared to be unable to launch a large scale retaliator)
attack at it was feared the Syrian Army would clash with them. Tel Zaatar
was completely encircled by the rightists. The rightists said that Tel
Zaatar was not a refugee camp but an armed fortress.

July 2, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Palestinians and Muslims
Sector: Tel Zaatar
Weapons: artillery, mortars, machine guns, tanks
Outcome: The outskirts of Tel Zaatarwere overrun by Christians
Connent: Lebanese Christian forces overran the outer defenses of Tel
Zaatar. The Palestinians stepped up their attack on Christian areas in
the southern suburbs of Beirut and in the eastern mountains, pounding them
with artillery and rockets. Guerrilla leaders rejected an offer for a
peaceful surrender of Tel Zaatar that promised the remaining fighters
to be able to leave camp unharmed. A ceasefire was reached but entirely
ignored.

July 3, 1976
Comment: Christians continued to shell Tel Zaatar.
July 4, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Palestinians and Muslims
Sector: Tel Zastar
Coment: Rightist forces reported capturing Tel Zaatar. Their reports
were inaccurate. The Red Cross was allowed to enter Tel Zaatar and evacuate
the wounded. Abu Iyad charged the Christians with receiving tanks and
other weapons from Israel.

July 5, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Palestinians and Muslims
Sector: Tel Zaatar, Chekka, Amchit
Weapons: tanks, artillery, mortars, machine guna
Outcome: 259 killed, 237 wounded in 24 hours (mostly in Chekka battle)
Comment: Christians put heavy pressure on Tel Zaatar, firing artillery
and mortar shells at close range. Only a devastated central section of a
74 acre shantytown remained in the hands of the Palestinians. The renewed
fighting prevented an International Red Cross convoy from evacuating 300
wounded. About 1,200 guerrillas and leftists were believed to have
conducted a defense from a maze of underground redoubts. Tel Zaatar had
no resupply of food, medicine, or arms for more than a week. The camp's
commander, Abu Haytham, was wounded and asked the Palestinians if he should
surrender. He was told to continue fighting. In retaliation for the Tel
Zaatar siege, leftist forces stepped up attacks on Christian areas.
Leftists and guerrillas in north Lebanon occupied Chekka, a Christian town,
and cut off escape from the south. The invaders held the in for 36 hours.
There was little damage to buildings; 100 civilians were killed with
bayonets or knives rather than rifles. The insides of many buildings,
generally homes, were ransacked and looted. Along the escape route to
the south, Palestinians stopped cars and shot the occupants. Fighting
continued on a dozen fronts around the Christian heartland as well.
Muslim forces advanced to within 4 miles of Amchit, the site of a
Christian-controlled radio station. The Muslims attacked from the west
and mountains and destroyed 30 of its defender tanks and other military
vehicles. A string of Christian towns were also captured on the Mediterranean
coast between Batrun and Byblos. In Tel Zaatar, the Palestinian perimeter
shrunk to a few multistory buildings around the core of refugee homes.
The Palestinians appeared to be abandoning most of their mortars and antiaircraft
guns as they retreated building by building through holes in the walls.

July 6, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Muslims and Palestinians
Sectors: Chekka, Tel Zaatar, and nearby villages
Weapons: antitank guns
Outcome: 200 killed in 24 hours, Christians captured 3 villages
Comment: Heavy fighting in northern Lebanon as Christians started to
drive the Muslims from the area. The Palestinians charged Syrian troops
with helping the Christians in the counterattack. Christians then recaptured
Hamat, Salata, and Amyun. Hundreds of Christian reinforcements
were seen in trucks and busses accompanied by jeeps carrying antitank guns,
headed north through Batrun. Some rightwing militiamen still held on in
Chekka. In Tel Zaatar, defenders dug in at the center of the camp and
no longer fired back with mortars or anti-aircraft weapons. They used
only sporadic vollies of automatic light weapons fire. The PLO agreed to
turn over suspects in the murder of Meloy and Waring to the Arab League.

July 7, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Palestinians and Muslims
Sectors: Chekka, Tel Zaatar
Outcome: 300 killed
Comment: The Christian counterattack in Chekka, led by Amin Gemayel. resulted
in its recapture and a 10 mile advance past their original lines at
the north edge of the 800 square mile enclave. New armored cars carrying
Christian forces headed north. In Tel Zaatar, the Palestinians and leftists
used tall buildings to hold off a final Christian conquest of the camp.
About 60 percent of the camp was destroyed by Christian shell fire. The
Christians brought in mortars to pound the defenders from close range. The
number of defenders of the camp is between 500 and 1,200. Three columns of
rightist forces pushed towards the last Palestinians, who were without
water for 48 hours.

July 8, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Palestinians
Sectors: Enfe, Tel Zaatar
Comment: Christian forces in northern Lebanon attacked the leftist
town of Enfe, 10 miles south of Tripoli. The Christians were determined
to take the town to insure the defense of Chekka. The Palestinians
charged the Syrians with using tanks to shell the northern and southern
edges of Tripoli in an attempt to prevent Palestinians and leftist
reinforcements from moving south.

July 10, 1976
Comment: The Christian advance on the two Palestinian camps was supplied
with new American rifles and Soviet armored cars not previously seen in
Lebanon. The Damascus radio said the death toll for the last three days
was 3,866. Some estimates were 32,000 killed since April 1975. As many
as 1 million of Lebanon's 3 million people left the country. No more
gasoline was available in Beirut for private use due to the damage of
the Zahrani oil refinery by Syrian artillery fire.

July 11, 1976
Forces: Christians and Syrians v. Palestinians and Muslims
Sectors: Tripoli, Enfe, Tel Zaatar, Sidon, Baalbek
Comment: Lebanese rightist troops and Syrian infantry were reported to
have overrun two Palestinian camps near the northern part of Tripoli.
The Christians captured Enfe and pushed the leftist line back toward
Tripoli. They claim they took Tel Zaatar, which appeared to be false.
Syrian artillery shelled refugee camps around Sidon and Baalbek. The Arab
League Foreign Ministry was scheduled to meet July 12 to design a peace.
The recent Christian attacks were probably to gain as much ground as
possible before the meeting took place. The Syrians shelled the refiiuery
of Zahrani, the only one in Muslim-controlled territory. It was afire and
inoperative for two days. Two camps overrun near Tripoli were Nahr al-Bared and Baddawi.

July 12, 1976
Forces: Syrians and Christians v. Muslims and Palestinians
Sector: Tripoli
Comment: Syrian troops were dug in near the three main Palestinianleftist
strongholds west of Beirut, Sidon, and Tripoli, stifling operations
by the Muslims while Lebanese Christians continued to push north from their
800 square mile enclave north of Beirut. Syrian troops shelled Nahr al-Bared
and Baddawi on the edge of Tripoli and refugee camps near Baalbek and Sidon.
The Christians continued their heavy assault on Tel Zaatar. Christians
came within "hand-grenade throwing" distance of Tripoli, entered Bahsas, a
suburb of the city.

July 13, 1976
Sectors: Baalbek, Tel Zaatar
Comment: Rightist soldiers were reported to be using gas, poisons,
and fire to kill Tel Zaatar's defenders who were cut off from resupplies
of water, food, and ammunition. In Sin el-Fil, from where the rightists
launched their attack on Tel Zaatar, many buildings were damaged, many by
fire, or filled with shell holes. Jisr al-Basha was only rubble. A
hospital in Tel Zaatar was filled with shell holes and many American,
Soviet and French-made shell casings were found on the floors.
A Syrian tank column entered Baalbek and appeared to be part
of an effort to gaincomplete military control of eastern Lebanon before
making concessions to Arab demands for a withdrawal of troops closer to
Beirut and on the Mediterranean coast south of the capital. Some Syrian
troops overlooking Sidon began a limited withdrawal.
William Hawi, a principal military strategist for the Christians,
was killed outside Tel Zaatar. He was the head of the military council of
the Phalangists, and was killed while supervising the surrender of a
group of persons who were leaving the camp under a white flag. His death
was expected to lead to an intensification of fighting around Tel Zaatar.
100 Syrians were reported to be storming Baalbek, backed by
artillery and armored vehicles and engaged in hand-to-hand fighting but
met with stiff resistance.

July 14, 1976
Comment: Four more Syrian battalions withdrew from strategic hills
surrounding Sidon. Syrian troops were reported to have increased their
pressure on Tripoli and Baalbek.

July 15, 1976
Forces: Syrians v. Muslims; Christians v. Muslims and Palestinians
Sectors: Baalbek, Tel Zaatar
Com--nt: Syrian troops captured Baalbek. Christian militiamen continued
a 24-day old seige of Tel Zaatar, however, the level of firing dwindled to
occasional sniper shots. A nurse inside the camp reported that about 1,000
wounded were trapped inside without medicine or running water and that
about 400 to 600 died in the camp during the siege.

July 16, 1976
Forces: Syrians and Christians v. Palestinians
Sector: Ain Toura, Tel Zaatar
Comment: Fresh Syrian troops and 30 tanks crossed into Lebanon, some
went to positions at Sofar and others to leftist outposts around Ain Toura.
The troop movements appeared to support the Christian offensive against
Ain Toura and Tel Zaatar. Heavy fighting raged inside Tel Zaatar, with
both sides claiming advances in house-to-house fighting. Day-long rocket
blasts and machine gun bursts raked rubble-choked streets in Beirut's port
and downtown districts. The U.S. Embassy announced an evacuation scheduled
for the 17th by road convoy to Damascus.

July 17, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Palestinians
Sector: Tel Zaatar
Outcome: 100 killed in 24 hours
Comment: Lebanese rightist Christians launched another assault on Tel
Zaatar. The defenders claimed they repulsed the attack. U.S. officials
warned that Christians were preparing for a heavy attack on west Beirut.
Leftists charged that the scheduled Amnerican evacuation was part of a
coordinated plan to include a major Syrian and Christian attack on west
Beirut, partition of Lebanon, and entry of Israel into the civil war.

July 18, 1976
Forces: Rightwing Christians v. leftwing Palestinians
Sector: Tel Zaatar
Comment: Christian rightists launched another attack on the city.
The rightist-controlled radio station reported that many defenders surrendered
and the rest were driven into one corner of the camp. Palestinian sources
reported that two rightist attacks, involving 600 men and armor, were
repulsed, and that several hundred reinforcements reached the camp.
Residential areas in west Beirut were shelled in retaliation for the shelling
of Christian areas outside Tel Zaatar. Syrian reinforcements headed
toward Ain Toura. The PLO expected the next decisive battle to be fought
there.

July 19, 1976
Forces: Syriaas v. Palestinians; Christians v. Palestinians
Sectors: Sofar, An Tours, Tel Zaatar
Weapons: armored vehicles, rocket launchers, artillery
Outcome: 15 killed in 24 hours
Comment: Syrian reinforcements, backed by armored vehicles, rocket
launchers and other artillery, moved up from the Bekaa Valley towards
leftist posittons in the central mountains at Sofar and Am Toura. The
Syrians attempted to clean out the remaining pockets of leftist and
Palestinian strength in the central mountains. At Tel Zaatar, Christian
militiamen battled defenders inside the camp. In Beirut, rocket and mortar
duels took place across the city's no-man's land. The evacuation convoy
was delayed due to clashes in the central mountains and the Damascus highway.

July 21, 1976
Forces: Saudi Arabian members of the Arab peacekeeping forces v.
Christian militiamen of the NLP
Sector: the museum at the crossing point in Beirut
Weapons: small arms
Structure: the museum
Outcome: Saudi forces took their positions at the cross point on the
side of the Muslims.
Comment: This was the first action by the Arab peacekeeping force, who
were trying to keep the cross point area safe. The agreement for moving
in the Saudi troops and for a 7 hour ceasefire at Tel Zaatar was worked
out under the auspices of General Mohammed Hassan Ghoneimrof Egypt, the
Commander of the Arab League force, a representative of the Palestinian
military command, and the Phalangists. Camille Chamoun and his party,
the NLP, rejected the agreement and tried to destroy it by maintaining
a heavy artillery barrage at Tel Zaatar and by shelling and sniping at
the crossing area in Beirut. Chamoun wanted to take Tel Zaatar, Nabaa,
and drive Muslims and Palestinians from their positions at Ain Toura
and Mtein. The Saudis had West German-made G-3 assault rifles and
French-made armored cars, trucks, and jeeps, and 150 men. A crowd of
civilians gathered near Barbir Hospital to watch the Saudi advance.
Mortar shells fired by NLP forces burst amid the crowd, killing several
and wounding 20.

July 22, 1976
Comment: NLP forces continued harassing Saudi peacekeeping forces by
firing mortars into the 800 yard stretch between the Barbir Hospital
and the National Museum. 9 Saudi soldiers were wounded. Heavy fighting
at Tel Zaatar made it impossible for the Red Cross to evacuate 100 of
the most seriously wounded. Further attempts were cancelled.

July 23, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Palestinians /leftists/Muslims
Sector: Tel Zaatar
Weapons: machine guns, mortars
Comment: The Red Cross attempted to send 3 officials into Tel Zaatar
to see if an evacuation of the wounded were possible. A temporary truce
was declared, however it broke down immediately when Christian officers
claimed the Palestinians were taking advantage of the truce to bring in
reinforcements. The three officials made it to safety just as the
Christians opened their assault with deafening bursts of machine gun and
mortar fire. The Christians launched an average of two assaults a day,
starting usually in mid-morning after a mortar bombardment to soften the
defenses. The defenders, who lost their own bp.vy guns, remained still
during the barrage, then ambushed the Christian assault party. Originally,
the Palestinians held outlying positions in factories, tall buildings,
and hills that surrounded Tel Zaatar, which had 3,000 refugee dwellings,
mostly concrete huts with iron roofs, now smashed. The defenders were
forced back to the inner defenses--a British-style square of 4 blockhouses
which were largely underground bunkers with mutually supporting fields of
fire from ground level. Hundreds of shells fell per day into the camp,
however, the defenders probably could only be wiped out by costly man-toman
combat. The camp was a former British military base from the Allied
campaign against the Vichy French during World War II.

July 24, 1976
Comment: A new ceasefire was reached between the Phalangists and the
Palestinians in the presence of Arab League envoy, Dr. Hassan el Kholy.
However, the ceasefire was already in jeopardy due to reports that as
many as 500 civilians were trapped in Tel Zaatar in an underground shelter
which collapsed during shelling. Gaping holes appeared in most of the
roof tops in Tel Zaatar which had been hit with tank fire, recoilless
rifle fire, 105mm mortars and 120mm guns. Fighting raged in Tel Zaatar
and Nabaa.

July 25, 1976
Forces: NLP v. Sudanese peacekeeping forces
Sector: The Green Line
Weapons: mortar, machine guns
Outcome: 2 Sudanese soldiers killed
Comment: The Sudanese troops attempted to cross the green line to the
Christian side. They were repelled by NLP forces. Palestinians reported
that Christian forces shelled the collapsed bunker where 500 civilians
were trapped, preventing rescue, in Tel Zaatar. The ceasefire scheduled
to take effect in the early morning failed. It was the 52nd ceasefire
of the civil war.

July 26, 1976
Comment: It was estimated that Syrian forces number 25,000 in Lebanon.
The rightists number between 10,000 and 15,000. The Palestinian
command runs between 10,000 and 15,000 also; and the leftims/Muslims were
10,000. Before Syria moved into Lebanon in June, the Palestinian-leftist
alliance controlled 75 percent of the terrain. At this date, Syria
controlled 50 percent, the PalestiniatwIeftists 35 percent, and the
Christians 15 percent. Palestinians reported the rightwing Christians
cut off the water supply to Tel Zaatar.

July 27, 1976
Comment: The U.S. Sixth Fleet completed its mass evacuation of U.S.
citizens from Beirut under the protection of the PLOusing an unarmed j
landing craft. 300 were evacuated including other foreign nationals,
30 U.S. newsmen, then-acting-Ambassador Talcott Seelye, and 25 U.S.
Embassy personnel. Meanwhile, there was tension mounting between
Phalangist and NLP forces. A traffic accident set the stage for a pitched
battle between them in Jounieh; 20 were killed.

July 29, 1976
Comment: Libyan Premier Abdul Salam Jalloud announced a new ceasefire
agreement between Syrian forces and the PLO. The PLO denied having
reached an agreement with the Syrians. The dispute was based on an anti-
Egyptian clause that was added to the contract at the last minute.

July 31, 1976
Comment: The Red Cross cancelled its most recent evacuation plans for
Tel Zaatar when Christian military leaders refused to let them enter the
center of the camp. It was reported by a doctor inside the camp that 1,400
died in Tel Zaatar in July.

August 2, 1976
Comment: Under the guidance of Kholy and Jean Hoefliger, the rightists
agreed to a Red Cross evacuation of wounded from Tel Zaatar on August 3.
100 were scheduled to leave. If the first attempt succeeded, later convoys
would be scheduled to remove the rest of the victims.

August 3, 1976
Comment: A Red Cross convoy of 9 trucks and 2 ambulances evacuated
91 wounded in a 7 hour operation from Tel Zaatar. The ceasefire was
largely respected.

August 4, 1976
Comment: 243 more wounded were evacuated from Tel Zaatar.

August 5, 1976
Forces: rightving Christians v. leftists/Palestinians/Muslims
Sectors: Tel Zaatar, Nabaa
Weapons: artillery, mortars, machine guns
Comment: A ceasefire agreed to late August 4 was well observed throughout
the country except in Tel Zaatar and Nabaa where heavy combat continued.
In Nabaa, rightist troops broke through the main defense line. Three
Muslim leaders attempted to negotiate a surrender by offering to give up
their weapons and have Nabaa policed by a neutral group. The rightists
demanded unconditional surrender, but fighting continued all day. The enclave
was badly battered. Shells hit Tel Zaatar every five minutes. The Arab
League has arranged the ceasefire.

August 6, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Palestinians
Sectors: Tel Zaatar, west Beirut, Nabaa
Weapons: mortars, machine guns, tanks
Comment: In Tel Zaatar, the Red Cross was forced to cancel its evacuation
of wounded when Ch~istian snipers shot and killed several wounded,
injuring 30 more, as they attempted to leave the defense perimeter and
head towards an open field where the trucks were loading. Rifle fire was
primarily directed at the wounded lying on stretchers on the ground and
in the first truck.
In west Beirut, shells landed at the airport, falling within
200 yards of a Red Cross plane.
In Nabaa, Christians attacked with tanks and other heavy
weapons during the night and in the morning. They announced they had
conquered the area. Palestinians said they had sent in reinforcements.
Later, reports on Nabaa indicated that the Muslims were crushed and many
prisoners were taken.

August 7, 1976
Comment: Two prisoners held by Christians said they were Iraqi soldiers--
part of a 150-man unit Iraq sent into Lebanon to fight alongside the
leftist/Palestinian forces. Saeb Salam crossed into Ashrafiyeh and conferred
with Pierre Gemayel to discuss unifying Lebanon.

August 8, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Muslims
Sectors: the c'-'mmercial center of Beirut, Tel Zaatar, Shiyah, Ain al-
Rumaneh, Aley
Weapons: artillery, rockets
Comment: Heavy fighting raged in the commercial center; rocket and
artillery battles took place in Tel Zaatar, Shiyah, Ain al-Rumaneh.
Leftist/Palestinian leaders accused Syrians of delaying efforts to
carry out a ceasefir% which was announced for earlier in the week, to
enable rightists to occupy more territory.

August 9, 1976
Comment: Leftist sources reported that Christian forces were massing
on two fronts to launch new attacks. At al-Jamhour, rightist forces
gathered 100 military vehicles and a large number of militiamen. The
troops were reported to be moving toward al-Louiya to attack Palestinian
and leftist strongholds in the southern outskirts of Beirut to open the
road to the Beirut airport. A large rightist concentration was in the
Zghorta area, said to be planning an attack on Tripoli. Chamoun said
that 16 Mirages arrived from Libya for use by leftist forces to be
assembled by a team of French technicians.

August 10, 1976
Forces: Christians v. Palestiniara/Jeftists
Sector: Tel Zaatar
Weapons: artillery
Comment: Christian forces began a new attack on Tel Zaatar. The
offensive was launched from three points around the camp. Christian troops
gained new positions, occupying PFLP headquarters. Defenders of the camp
were not able to get reinforcements so they resorted to shelling Christians
surrounding the camp. This action brought on the attack. As many as
3,000 families fled the camp in the past three days. Cypriot shipowners
had to discontinue freighter trips to Tyre and Sidon as a result of the
sinking of a Greek Cypriot ship at Tyre on August 9.

Auguat 11, 1976
Co-mmnt: On the second day of the newest Christian offensive on Tel
Zaatar, rightist forces captured the camp's aist remaining water source
and pushed defenders off a key hill inside the camp. Christians called
this "Tel Zaatar Week." Shortly after noon, Christians launched a determined
infantry attack accompanied by a steady barrage of artillery. 100 tanks
were used in the attack coming from several directions. A Syrian jet flew
overhead, possibly to take aerial photos to assist the Christians. The
hill taken was called "General Command HIll." The defense perimeter was
between 200x500 yards to 400x800 yards. Only 300 fighters remained in
the crmp with thousands of civilians.

August 12, 1976
Comment: Tel Zaatar fell after 51 days of siege. Thousands of
inhabitants fled charging Chris tans with murdering hundreds. An
accurate death count was impossible. Casualties were very high. At
9:00 a.m., rightists overwhelmed the last defenders of the camp and by
afternoon there was only scattered resistance from defiant Palestinian
commandos trapped in buildings. A total of 12,000 evacuated the camp.

August 13, 1976
Comment: Syria closed its borders with Lebanon.
August




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Post Your Comment

Posted by Tlaylin on May 4, 2017 #158458

My name is Tafline Laylin, I am a freelance journalist / researcher contacting you on behalf of Mohanad Salahat, a Palestinian filmmaker currently working on a documentary about Tal al-Za'atar.

We read with interest your section on the subject and would like to verify the credibility of the information provided; would it be possible to set up a conversation with you and Mohanad?

We look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards, Tafline Laylin and Mohanad Salahat salahat.m@gmail.com
Posted by Karen on November 10, 2011 #139463

Thank you for the complete story. There is no information in Wikipedia about Israeli involvement in this crime, although I'm not surprised.
Posted by Webmaster on October 3, 2010 #122792

Thanks for sharing.

There is very little written about this refugee camp; inchallah this is the beginning not to Tall al-Za'atar but to other destroyed refugee camps.

Salah Mansour