Lebanon Militias - Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO-FATAH)

- Erwin Sablon & Karim Van Overmeire


When it became obvious that the arab countries could not defeat Israel and liberate Palestine; the palestinian refugees started to found their own military organisations.

The most important of these organisations was founded in 1959 by the palestinian engineer Yasir Arafat and was called " the movement for the national liberation of Palestine" or "Fatah". Immediately, the different arab countries tried to bring Fatah and other palestinian

organisations under their control and use them for their own purposes. In 1964, when "Fatah" was under syrian influence, the "Palesinian Liberation Organisation" (PLO) was founded by the egyptian president Nasser. The PLO had its own "Palestinian Liberation Army" (PLA). In practice the PLA consisted of palestinian brigades in the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan,... Later, the PLO became an organisation consisting of thePLA and the different guerilla movements. With Fatah as the most important organisation inside the PLO, Arafat became the chairman of the PLO.

At the end of the '60's, in an attempt to get out of the influence of Syria, Arafat moved his organisation to Jordan. At the same time, radical marxist groups (PFLP, DFLP,...) branched of from Fatah. These groups chose international terrorism above the guerilla war with israel. The radical palestinians hoped for a coup in Jordan, but during "black september" in 1970, the palestinians were forcefully removed by king Hussein. The palestine guerilla moved to Lebanon...

Again the radical palestinian organisations interfered in the internal politics of the host country. They immediately took sides in the civil war with the "leftwing islamic" coalition. When the christians as a countermeasure attacked palestinian refugee camps, Fatah was drawn into the conflict.

The interference of Syria at that moment was at least partially due to the fact that a leftwing islamic victory would result in a total loss of the control the syrians had over the palestinians. Lebanon became the graveyard of the palestinian movement. The largest part of the military effort was used against the lebanese christians, the syrians, Amal,... instead of Israel.

When the israeli invasion came in 1982, Arafat could muster around 14.000 warriors (including the radical groups). Despite this number the Israeli soldiers occupied Beirut a few days later. Arafat had to leave Beirut. At the same moment a Syria-sponsered renegade named Abu Mussa tried to start a rebellion against the PLO leader. Abu Mussa succeeded in dislodging Arafat from Tripoli. All palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon were now controlled by pro-syrian palestinians.

When the followers of Arafat tried to return to Lebanon in 1985, their refugee camps werebesieged by Amal by command of Syria. After a struggle lasting more than a year, an agreement was reached between Arafat and Syria and the palestinians of Fatah returned to Libanon.

Armament 1982-1984

In contrast to the christian militias, the palestians posessed already heavy weapons (tanks and artillery) at the start of the civil war. These heavy weapons gave them in 1975-76 a large military advantage. These weapons were mostly from soviet origin. Most palestinian warriors were camo uniforms but there is no "uniformity" in their clothing. Most warriors wear the "Kefiyah" (palestinian scarf). [We use a black-and-white Kefiyah for Fatah and a red-and-white Kefiyah for the PNSF in our games, the PNSF are the radical anti-Arafat, pro-syrian palestinians] The palestinian refugee camps are an almost inexhaustible pool of new recrutes. Arafat had almost 14.000 warriors in 1982, half of them being Fatah.

Personal weapons : AK47, M16, RPG.
Artillery : 107 mm (chinese origin), 122 mm, 130 mm, 155 mm, BM-21.
Tanks : charioteer, T34, T54, T55.
APC : M113

Camo vehicles : mostly sand colour
Signs vehicles : slogans in black paint