On 4 January 1976, the Maronite forces besieged the two Palestinian camps of Tel al-Za’atar and Jisr al-Basha. The Christians’ strategic goal was to eliminate the Palestinians’ control of the main exits from East Beirut and of the main road to Matn. Two days later, representatives of the Leftist forces in the ‘Higher Co-ordination Committee’1 walked out of a meeting of the Committee in protest over the Christian action, and Yasir Arafat emphasised the determination of the ‘Palestinian Revolution’ to break the siege by force if necessary.2 Not heeding Arafat’s warning, the Maronites not only continued the siege of the two camps, but proceeded on 12 January to surround a third, the strategically placed camp of al-Dubbaya, which was duly overrun on 14 January. This opened the way for a Christian assault on the Moslem ghettos of Karantina, al-Maslakh and al-Naba’s, which like the Palestinian camps, were situated in the predominantly Christian area north of Beirut River—the area which the Maronites were increasingly referring to as the ‘Christian Homeland’. In retaliation the Moslem and Palestinian forces launched a massive assault on the Christian towns of al-Damour and al-Jiyya which were situated south of Beirut in the predominantly Moslem area of Lebanon.
KeywordsSyria Assure Egypt Defend Clarification
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