Israel: June 19, 2000


The sudden withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon in late May, fully a month before it was planned, was forced on the Israelis after the entire Shiite brigade of the South Lebanon Army defected to the Lebanese over a 48-hour period (22-23 May). The Christian brigades in the eastern part of the security zone immediately stampeded into Israel with their dependents, a total of 6,000 people. Lebanon is holding 1,600 SLA troops in prison camps and plans to try them for war crimes. Dispute continues to focus over the Shebaa Farms, a small disputed agricultural area claimed by both Israel and Syria. The borders in the region have undergone numerous minor changes since 1948, causing no end of confusion over several small areas. The UN says that the Shebaa Farms belong to Syria, but the Israelis refuse to give them up and say they are, and always were, a part of Israel and are being administered under Israeli civilian law (i.e., have been annexed). Hezbollah demands that Israel hand over the Shebaa Farms and release all Lebanese held in Israeli jails.--Stephen V Cole


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