-Jerusalem Post, July 31, 1998.
The Israeli-occupied zone, which borders Israel and comprises about 10 percent of Lebanese territory, has within it over one hundred villages and towns that are part of Lebanon's provincial administrative districts of Tyre,Bint Jbail, Marjayoun, Hasbaiya, the Western Beka', and Nabatiyeh.1 The zone's diverse topography includes the coastal plain along the Mediterranean in the southwest and the foothills of the 2,814-meter Mount Hermon (jebel al-shaykh, in Arabic) in the northeast. The land yields olives, grapes, figs, pomegranates, cherries, walnuts, wheat, vegetables, legumes, and tobacco.
It is widely recognized internationally that Israel controls the occupied zone with its own military and security forces as well as with those of its auxiliary militia, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), which the U.N. describes as the Israeli Defense Forces' "local Lebanese auxiliary," and the U.S. Department of State has termed Israel's "surrogate."2 The zone's current boundaries took shape in 1985, when the Israeli military withdrew in stages from areas of Lebanon that its troops had occupied to the north, following Israel's invasion of the country in June 1982. After Israel's invasion in March 1978, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 425, which called upon Israel "immediately to cease its military action against Lebanese territorial integrity and withdraw forthwith its forces from all Lebanese territory." The resolution also included the Security Council's decision to "establish immediately under its authority a United Nations interim force for Southern Lebanon [known as UNIFIL] for the purpose of confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restoring international peace and security and assisting the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area, the Force to be composed of personnel drawn from Member States."3 Resolution 425 was adopted on March 19, 1978.
Over twenty years later, on April 1, 1998, the Israeli Ministerial Committee for National Security announced that Israel was accepting Resolution 425 "so that the IDF will leave Lebanon," and called on the Lebanese government "to begin negotiations...to restore its effective control over territories currently under IDF control..."4
Despite this announcement, senior Israeli government
officials continue to claim that Israel does not have "effective control"
in the occupation zone, and that while it has influence over the SLA the
militia is independent of Israel. In April 1999, for example, then-defense
minister Moshe Arens described the relationship as closely integrated:
"No one contests that the IDF [the Israel Defense Forces] and the SLA coordinate
their military activity, since both forces are fighting the same
enemy, and that the IDF has influence over the SLA."5
In the same document, the defense minister maintained that Israel does
not have "effective control" over south Lebanon, stating: "The IDF maintains
a permanent presence in a very small number of military outposts in the
Security Zone. Most of the military outposts in the South Lebanon area
are manned by SLA soldiers. In addition, from time to time the IDF carries
out various activities also outside the outposts, in order to prevent terrorist
activities by hostile elements. The IDF does not maintain army bases in
settled areas of South Lebanon, except for three [unnamed] locations."
This comment reflects the general approach of Israeli officials in characterizing the SLA role under the occupation. Human Rights Watch shares the view of the international community and considers the zone to be occupied territory under international humanitarian law, with Israel the occupying power and the SLA its local Lebanese auxillary force. Human Rights Watch believes that while Israel may dispute the extent of its control in the occupied zone, it cannot shirk its responsibility for the actions carried out by its client militia, the SLA, which is armed and financed by Israel and is widely recognised as being its surrogate in South Lebanon.
Expelled residents of the zone interviewed by Human Rights Watch all noted dramatic declines in the population of their communities over the last two decades: some villages that once had thousands of inhabitants have been reduced in size to several hundred persons, most of them, according to testimony, elderly people or members and supporters of the SLA militia. For example, former residents of Markaba, a village several miles from the Israeli border, said the population had dwindled to 150 to 200 people from some 12,000 before the occupation. Lebanese knowledgeable about the zone estimate that the current population is about 120,000.6 Israeli estimates place the number of residents below 100,000.7 Ariela Ringel Hofman, "Protect Me From My Friends," Yedi'ot Aharonot, March 5, 1999, as reported in FBIS Daily Report, FBIS-NES-1999-0308. Contributing to thedrain has been the exodus of teenagers and young men to avoid forced conscription into the SLA, departures that have been encouraged and often arranged by their parents (see "Punishing Flight from the Militia," below).
The zone's depopulation is one reflection of the hardships of life under occupation and, since 1982, the dangers accompanying the ongoing military conflict between Lebanese guerrillas (widely described in Lebanon as the resistance, or muqawama in Arabic) and Israeli forces and SLA militiamen. Lebanese civilians have been the primary victims in this conflict, and Israeli civilians in northern Israel have suffered death and injury as well. Both sides - Israel and the SLA, and Lebanese guerrilla forces, principally the military wing of Hizballah - have violated international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by carrying out indiscriminate attacks and illegal reprisals against civilians. Israel, with its vastly superior military firepower, has caused by far the most civilian casualties, and the most damage to homes and civilian infrastructure.8
The Israeli Role in the Zone
The IDF Liaison Unit to Lebanon, commanded by an Israeli military officer with the rank of brigadier general, reportedly directs Israeli and SLA military activities in the occupied zone.9 "We have thousands of soldiers and officers doing the day-to-day work in Lebanon, risking their lives," then-Israeli defense minister Moshe Arens told the Jerusalem Post in March 1999.10 According to the U.S. State Department, there were "approximately 2,000 Israeli army regulars" in the occupied zone in 1998, as well as 1,500 SLA militiamen.11 Israeli journalists, in contrast, put the number of SLA soldiers at 2,500 to 3,000 men.12 Israel's annual budget for the zone is reportedly U.S. $32 million, most of it used to pay the $550 to $600 average monthly salaries of SLA soldiers, who are organized into two brigades with three territorial battalions each.13
Israel has also long maintained a multileveled intelligence presence in Lebanon that is involved in activities and decision making with respect to the civilian population. This presence reportedly includes operatives from its external intelligence services, the IDF military intelligence unit of the Army Intelligence Branch (known by its Hebrew acronym AMAN), the Mossad, and the Israeli domestic security service, the General Security Service (GSS) or Shabak, also known by its former name Shin Bet.14 In April 1999, then-defense minister Arens provided some limited information about the nature of Israel's role in the zone with respect to security matters. He said that he did "not dispute that there is cooperation in various security areas between the security establishment of the State of Israel and the SLA, with both forces constantly facing hostile forces in South Lebanon, and that the State of Israeli [was] interested in strengthening the SLA in its war opposite the said hostile forces." He added that "the parties consult together concerning the arrest and release of people in the al-Khiam installation," but maintained that decisions to continue the detention of Lebanese prisoners in Khiam are "under the responsibility and judgment of the SLA, and not within the authority of the Respondent [the minister of defense]." The defense minister also acknowledged that "indeed, information from the interrogations at al-Khiam [prison] are transferred by the SLA to Israeli security forces. In addition, several detainees underwent polygraph tests by the Israeli side in the framework of the security cooperation between the parties." He made no mention, however, of the exchange of information obtained from SLA questioning of residents of the occupied zone who were not imprisoned in Khiam, nor did he discuss the practice of Israeli intelligence operatives' questioning of civilian residents of the zone, either within Lebanon or in Israel. 15
In 1989, Israel's GSS (Shin Bet) is said to have created a security apparatus within the SLA:
In light of the difficulties that the Army Intelligence Branch was having in Lebanon, a decision was made in late 1989 to ratchet Shin Bet involvement in the region up a notch. With visions of creating an efficiently coordinated intelligence network, the Shin Bet set up an intelligence service call "Mabat" (an acronym for mangenon ha'bitachon - "security apparatus") within the SLA, employing SLA men to gather intelligence in the field under the professional tutelage of Israeli experts."16
In 1994, Jane's Intelligence Review described some of the activities of this apparatus:
The SLA is supported by the General Security Service (GSS), a Lebanese-staffed intelligence organisation under the supervision of Israel's internal security service, the Shin Bet. Having operated in the region for over 20 years and enjoying unchallenged air supremacy, Israeli forces have built up a detailed intelligence picture of South Lebanon. The GSS keeps this picture up to date and is also responsible for taking captives to the prison camp at El-Khiam. This notorious camp is regularly stocked with terrorist suspects as well as Lebanese civilians taken hostage to ensure the good behavior of their families and villages.17
David Hirst, the veteran Beirut-based correspondent for the Guardian (London), described the Lebanese GSS as "the local extension of Israel's Shin Beth." A senior Lebanese foreign ministry source told Human RightsWatch that the Lebanese intelligence operatives comprise the "elite" of the SLA, adding that the Lebanese government has proof, in the form of taped intercepted conversations, that the operatives receive orders from Israeli intelligence.18 During a visit to the occupied zone, journalist Hirst interviewed one Lebanese GSS agent who said that his monthly salary was $1,200, approximately double that of SLA conscript soldiers, one quantitative indicator of a higher status.19 The Lebanese security agents who have monitored and harassed civilian residents of the occupied zone, summoned them for interrogation, pressured them to serve as informers, and carried out expulsions, are almost certainly members of the Lebanese GSS, although former local residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch identified them only as "security" with the SLA and never used the full organizational name. In their testimony, however, these residents always distinguished between the individuals that they described as security operatives and ordinary SLA soldiers.
Actions of Israeli Intelligence Officers
As the testimony in this report makes clear, one of the activities of the occupation security apparatus has been to identify and recruit Lebanese men and women who live inside the zone to serve as informers and gather information about the Lebanese military resistance to the Israeli occupation. Those who have resisted the pressure to collaborate have either fled the zone or have been expelled. The search for intelligence information, and the corresponding pressure on the civilian population, takes place in the context of growing uneasiness within the ranks of the SLA concerning their fate in Lebanon after an Israeli withdrawal from the zone, increasing desertions of both SLA soldiers and security operatives, and Israeli suspicions that serious intelligence breaches may have facilitated the killing of its own forces in Lebanon.20 By Lebanese and Western accounts, the armed wing of Hizballah, in particular, has made major advances in its own intelligence-gathering, beginning in 1995-96. David Gardner, the respected Middle East editor of the Financial Times, noted this:
Hizbollah's ability to identify and attack vital Israeli occupation targets has been evident since roughly October 1995. It was then that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) began noticing a qualitative change in the Shi'ite movement's tactics - in particular its ability to anticipate the movements of senior Israeli intelligence officers and elite units.21
Israel experienced a severe blow, for example, on February 28, 1999, when the commander of the IDF Liaison Unit in Lebanon, Brig. Gen. Erez Gerstein, was killed when his armor-plated Mercedes was blown up by a remote-controlled roadside bomb near Hasbaiya in the eastern sector of the occupied zone.22 The general was based at the IDF's Lebanon headquarters in Marjayoun, inside the zone. In an article written before Gen. Gerstein's death, the Jerusalem Post described him as the Israeli officer "with the closest contacts with the Israeli-financed SLA" who "supervise[d] Israeli and SLA activities in the security zone."23 In the wake of the incident, for whichHizballah claimed responsibility, the Israeli press reported that Shin Bet operatives arrested Lebanese residents of villages in the eastern part of the zone.24 Future News, the daily English-language news service of Future Television (Beirut), noted in early April 1999 that "lately there has been a wave of arrests of militiamen whom Israeli suspected of providing Hizbollah with information enabling them to kill Israel's top general in south Lebanon, Erez Gerstein."25
Testimony collected by Human Rights Watch also indicates that in some cases of expulsion there has been close coordination between the SLA and Israeli intelligence. As recently as January 1999, Israeli intelligence officers reportedly were present during the round-up of twenty-five members of five families who were expelled from Sheba', a large village in the northeastern sector of the occupied zone, where a senior SLA security official had been killed one month earlier. Family members told Human Rights Watch that the Israelis arrived at their homes in three unmarked civilian cars, accompanied by the SLA (see "Collective Punishment," below). Human Rights Watch also collected testimonial evidence indicating that men and women targeted for expulsion from the occupied zone had previously had direct contact with Israeli intelligence. For example, a middle-aged man who was expelled in February 1999 said that he was summoned in October 1998 to the local SLA security office for his village and questioned. He testified that, from there, militiamen drove him to the security office in Kfar Kila, a village in the ocupied zone less than three miles from the Israeli border, where he was questioned for one hour by an Israeli intelligence officer in his twenties who wore civilian clothes:
He accused me of having relatives in the resistance and asked questions about them. I told him that I did not see them. I explained that these relatives had even sent word to me through women visitors [to the village] that they understood why I did not see them. He called me a liar. I replied that no one had ever called me a liar. I told him to ask the SLA about me. I asked him what I did wrong. I am still wondering why they did this to me.
The man said that in February 1999 he was summoned by a local SLA security official, who told him that "the Israelis" had ordered his expulsion. The next day, the man was transported with his wife and thirteen-year-old daughter to the Kfar Tebnit crossing, where their permits were confiscated and they were expelled.26
Salah (not his real name), who is in his thirties and was expelled from his village in the occupied zone in January 1999, told Human Rights Watch that an SLA security official summoned him in December 1998 and brought him from the local security office to the Israeli border town of Metulla. He said that he was questioned there for one hour by four Israelis who spoke to him in heavily accented Arabic and talked with one another in Hebrew. He said that the Israelis wanted to know why he was traveling frequently to Beirut, trips that he said were necessary because of his family's business in the village. At the end of the session, according to his account, one of the Israelis instructed the militiaman: "Keep him until Sunday and go search his house." When Salah was returned to the security office in his village, he said that he was not detained because a senior SLA security officialtold him to go home and return on Sunday with a doctor's report.27 Salah returned as requested with the report and was again instructed to go home. He said that about one week to ten days later, his brother was taken to Metulla and questioned for two hours by Israelis:
Salah's brother refused. About ten days to two weeks later, the same senior SLA security official called Salah. "He told me that I must gather my things and leave, that the situation was not good." He was summoned again to the village's security office. According to Salah's account:They asked him to collaborate, and he asked how. They told him: "Your brother is coming and going. He can gather information and tell you, and you can tell us."
The militiaman drove Salah to the Kfar Tebnit crossing, where he was expelled. "I walked to the Lebanese army checkpoint, and a taxi driver whom I knew took me to Zahrani [a town on the coast south of Sidon], and told my family what happened," he said. His wife, who was pregnant, joined him twenty days later.28I went the next day in the morning.... A SLA soldier from the village, who serves at the Kfar Tebnit crossing, told me to come with him in a Mercedes civilian car with antennas. I told him that I had my car and my keys, and said "What if you throw me in prison?" He told me to give my keys to anyone in the office, and if my parents asked, they would give my keys to them. He said: "It's not personal. I was ordered to throw you [out] at the Kfar Tebnit crossing." I told him that I did not have my identification, my wallet, that I had nothing with me, and no money. He said that he could not do anything.
In a separate interview, another former resident of the zone testified about his own encounter with Israelis in March 1998. Fifty-one-year-old Ahmad Sari Beddah, a prominent figure in the village of Beit Lief who said that he administered the local waqf and had been involved in distributing aid to needy villagers since 1978, was taken to the SLA military barracks in Bint Jbail following the killing of his son Yousef, who was a guerrilla, in a military operation. Beddah told Human Rights Watch that he was brought to a room filled with SLA security operatives and about ten Israeli military officers and journalists. "They wanted me to condemn the resistance in front of the cameras," he testified. "I called for peace. Then an Israeli officer said: `We killed your son.'" Beddah said that he explained why his son had joined the resistance, which provoked the officer to hit him and threaten that he would be taken to Khiam prison. "He also told me to tell him where Ron Arad was, or my son's body would never be released."29 Beddah told Human Rights Watch that, fearing imprisonment, he fled the zone. He testified that ten days later, some time in early April 1998, SLA security operatives put his wife and three-year-oldchild into a car and expelled them at the Beit Yahoun crossing. "They told her that she could not take anything with her," Beddah added.30
The resident of another village in the zone, who requested anonymity, described the events that preceded his expulsion in 1997. He told Human Rights Watch that five SLA militiamen arrived at his home at eight o'clock one morning in July 1996, while he was eating breakfast with his wife and children: "Three of them surrounded the house, and one waited in the car. The one who came to the door told me that Ahmed Shibley Saleh [the SLA security official responsible for the western sector of the occupied zone from Bint Jbail to Naqoura] wanted to see me." The man said that he was brought to "Position 17" of the SLA in Bint Jbail, where telephone calls were made. He stated that he was then informed that he was being taken to Khiam prison. He testified that he was held for the first eleven days in Khiam in complete darkness in solitary confinement, and then was tortured and interrogated for sixty days, blindfolded and handcuffed. He said that he was hanged from a ceiling with his toes just touching the floor; doused repeatedly with hot and then cold water; and threatened with electric shock. His interrogators threatened that his wife, mother and sister would be arrested, he added.
The same man recounted that his interrogators, whom he identified as SLA, asked questions about his relationships with Lebanese intelligence, Hizballah, and the Amal Movement. He said that after sixty days he was brought to an office equipped with a computer, where he was questioned by an Israeli interrogator who used a polygraph:
According to the man's account, Jackie, an Israeli who spoke heavily accented Arabic, questioned him for two hours. "He had my file in front of him, written in Hebrew, with parts of it underlined in blue ink," he said. He described how Jackie wanted specific information about various individuals, including their addresses, and also asked more general questions. After this session, the man was returned to Khiam prison and held there until January 1997. On the day of his release, he said that SLA militiamen drove him immediately to the Beit Yahoun crossing, where he was expelled.31The interrogator in Khiam [prison] told me: "Now you are going to a place where they will know if you are lying." They took me from Khiam to somewhere near the Israeli border. They made me lie on the back seat of a car, handcuffed and with my eyes blindfolded. Once I was inside an office, they removed the blindfold and handcuffs. There were five Israelis - one in civilian clothes named "Jackie," who was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and four with uniforms.
Human Rights Watch obtained additional testimonial evidence which indicates that certainly since 1988 Israeli intelligence operatives have interrogated Lebanese who later were expelled from the occupied zone.32
Restrictions on Freedom of Movement
Occupation security authorities also closely and strictly monitor and control the movement of all residents of Lebanon between the occupied zone and Lebanon proper. Passport-sized permits, which are written in Arabic and Hebrew, and include a photograph of the bearer, must be presented at designated SLA crossing points in order to leave and reenter the zone on foot.33 The names of children under fifteen years old are listed on the documents of their parents. According to testimony of former residents of the zone, these permits typically are issued for a three-month period. Possession of a valid permit, however, does not necessarily guarantee that the resident will be able to leave the zone. Human Rights Watch interviewed former residents who had been turned away at crossing points even though they had obtained permits. In other cases, some illiterate villagers belatedly discovered that they were expelled because they were issued exit documents, which they could not read, that enabled them to leave the zone but never return.
The arbitrary denial of permits has been used throughout the years to restrict freedom of movement, and to harass and put pressure on targeted individuals and families. As the cases in this report indicate, some husbands and wives have gone months and even years without seeing one another because occupation security officials have refused exit permits to one of the spouses. Human Rights Watch also documented cases in which residents requiring specialized medical care were denied permission to leave the zone. For women whose children lived outside the zone, particularly sons who fled SLA conscription as teenagers, the denial of exit permits was a source of tremendous emotional stress because of the lack of contact. For men whose professions required them to travel outside the zone on a regular basis in order to earn their livelihoods - such as traders and taxi drivers - possession of a permit represented an economic lifeline. Occupation security officials have used the threat of denial of permits as a particularly effective pressure point in the process of forcing some of these men to work as informers. Many who refused either fled the zone in fear or were expelled.34
One illustrative example of restrictions on freedom of movement is a case from Maroun al-Ras, a small village located on a prominent hilltop at the southernmost end of the central section of the occupied zone, less than two kilometers from the Israeli border. From the testimony of former residents, the village's population under the occupation has been gradually reduced to some 150 to 200 people from three major families whose members previously numbered several thousand. Fifty-eight-year-old Asadullah Hmadi and his wife were two of the residents who did not leave. They farmed twenty-five dunums of land, earning between LL13 to LL15 million ($8,600 to $10,000) each year from eight dunums that were licensed to grow tobacco.35 They also cultivated wheat, lentils, chickpeas, and other crops for their own use. Asadullah's wife was not permitted to reenter the village in 1998, and he was forced to leave in 1999.
Asadullah told Human Rights Watch that the occupation security authorities had denied him an exit permit for ten years, ever since he sent his oldest son to Beirut, when he was fourteen years old, in order to secure his safety from forced conscription into the SLA. Since that time, other sons also left the village for Beirut. In June 1997, his youngest daughter, Hoda, at age sixteen, was imprisoned in Khiam, one day after her fiancé, GhassanEissa, was detained there.36 Asadullah's wife, who previously had been issued permits to travel out of the zone to visit her children, suddenly encountered restrictions on her freedom of movement.
"I got a permit while my daughter was in prison, but twice they turned me back from the Beit Yahoun crossing. They gave no reason," she said. She then complained to Raouf Fares, the local SLA security official, and asked for permission to visit her children in Beirut for fifteen days. She said that one evening in February 1998, Fares sent a message, informing her to meet him in nearby Bint Jbail at eight o'clock the next morning and he would give her a paper that would allow her to leave. She used the paper, which she could not read, to exit the zone. She stayed in Beirut for only ten days and then traveled back to the Beit Yahoun crossing:
She returned to another crossing two days later, in a futile attempt to return to the village. She was again refused entry, and again was not allowed to see the security official in charge. It was February 28, 1998. Asadullah said that he unsuccessfully sought assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UNIFIL to reverse his wife's forcible transfer.While I was waiting to be searched, they told me that I was not allowed to return. I asked why, and they would not tell me. I asked for the official in charge of the crossing, and they refused. I told them that I was growing my crops, and they still refused.
When Hoda was released from Khiam prison in April 1998, after being held for ten months withoutcharge, she was in poor health, suffering from an ulcer and a nervous breakdown. She was not permitted to leave Maroun al-Ras and had no medical care for the first two months. Through the intervention of the ICRC and UNIFIL, according to family members, Hoda finally was allowed to leave in July 1998. It was only with two medical reports - one from a general surgeon recommending a CAT scan, a high-technology x-ray - and ICRC assistance, the family said, that Asadullah was finally permitted to exit the zone. In early January 1999, he said, he was instructed by a local SLA security official to leave the village immediately and never return to the zone.37
Opaque Aspects of Israeli Control
Israel's presence in, and control of, the occupied zone is transparent in some respects and opaque in others. The IDF, for example, maintains its permanent Lebanon headquarters in a former Lebanese army barracks in the town of Marjayoun inside the zone. An Israeli flag, with Lebanese flags on either side of it, flies atop the group of buildings in which the barracks is located.38 Heavily fortified IDF military positions throughout the zone, strategically located on the highest hilltops, such as the position at the imposing Crusader-era Beaufort Castle which towers above the village of Arnoun, also fly Israeli flags.39 Apart from these military positions, observed journalist David Hirst, "there seem to be...few Israelis in Israeli-occupied Lebanon." He explained why:
It is because, where possible, the Israelis move
around in civilian cars. Mercedes. Armor-plated, of course. The SLA use
them too; but while the Israelis treat themselves to the de luxe model,they
fob off their allies with a cheaper, inferior version. You can tell the
difference because the Israeli one, being heavier, is lower slung.40
Former residents of the zone, whose testimony is included in this report, described how SLA and Israeli security officers arrived at their homes in unmarked civilian cars, often Mercedes.
In April 1999, Israeli defense minister Moshe Arens told Israel's High Court of Justice that "the IDF does not have effective control in civilian areas of the Security Zone, nor is the IDF interested in such control. Although the IDF has a unit that provides civilian aid to the residents of the Security Zone, the said aid is very limited. Most of the civilian activity is performed by Lebanese government agencies." The defense minister's assertion was contradicted by a senior IDF officer who described to the Jerusalem Post an underlying Israeli strategy with respect to civilians in the occupied zone:
"The great success of south Lebanon is the creation of a situation of dependency," says a senior IDF officer in Lebanon. "That dependency leads to a freedom of operation and movement by the IDF. Our operations and presence in built-up areas in south Lebanon can only work as long as we can control the population. That is expensive," says the officer, who could not be named in keeping with IDF regulations.41
Moreover, in April 1998, as noted above, Israel's Ministerial Committee for National Security acknowledged Israel's control of the occupied zone. One important manifestation of this power is Israel's ultimate control of the freedom of movement of the zone's civilian population, although the bureaucratic manifestation of such control has been left purposefully opaque. As noted above, the movement of residents into and out of the occupied zone is controlled through a permit system. These travel documents contain some sections written in Hebrew and other sections written in Arabic. (A copy of one of these documents, issued in 1998, was obtained by Human Rights Watch and is included in the appendix of this report.) It is striking that nowhere on the permit is there any formal identification of the SLA or IDF, although it seems clear that the Hebrew-language term "Lebanon Liaison Unit" refers to the IDF Liaison Unit to Lebanon, whose functions are described above. The Hebrew stamp over the photograph of the bearer of the document reads: "Taibeh, Lebanon Liaison Unit, Civil Assistance, Civil Affairs," indicating perhaps that it was stamped by a member of the IDF Liaison unit who was based in Taibeh, a village in the zone located south of Marjayoun.
On another page of the document is a section written in Hebrew that reads: "Civil Committee, Markaba, Committee's signature," and "Security system signature" and "Details of the approver." It is followed by thesignature of an Israeli military officer, who is identified by name, rank (second lieutenant), and a number. The final stamp reads in Hebrew: "Signature of sector, Lebanon Liaison Unit, Taibe Sector," and is not signed.
On June 7, 1999, Human Rights Watch sent a letter and copy of this travel document to Uri Lubrani at Israel's ministry of defense. We asked him if the Hebrew term "Lebanon Liaison Unit" on the document was a reference to the IDF Liaison Unit to Lebanon. We noted in our letter that the document contained at least four Hebrew-language rubber stamps, over several of which were signatures. We requested that Mr. Lubrani provide Human Rights Watch with information concerning Israel's role in regulating the movement of Lebanese civilians into and out of the zone, as well as its role in the issuance and regulation of Arabic- and Hebrew-language identity documents and travel permits for zone residents. As of the date of the printing of this report, Human Rights Watch had not received a reply to this letter. The fact that permits required for travel in and out of the occupied zone appear to be signed and "approved" by an IDF liaison officer is one of the indicators that Iraeli authorities exercise control over the civilian population in the zone.
Who Orders the Expulsions?
Because of the lack of a transparent process when expulsions occur in the occupied zone, it is difficult if not impossible to document who precisely within the various levels of the occupation security apparatus issues the orders to expel Lebanese individuals and entire families. The various actors in the decision-making process leading up to each expulsion have never been publicly identified. Nicholas Blanford, a reporter for the English-language Daily Star (Beirut) who is an independent and knowledgeable observer of the zone, has emphasized that security policies and activities in the zone, with respect to the civilian population, are carried out by Israeli security, not military, forces in partnership with the SLA:
The IDF sees its role in the occupation zone as combating well-trained and motivated armed guerrillas rather than containing a hostile civilian population. The IDF plays a strictly military role. The policing/security role in the zone is undertaken by the SLA and the Israeli [General Security Service]. Other than occasional foot patrols, Israeli soldiers are rarely seen outside their fortified compounds. The Israelis remain aloof from dealing with the civilian population on a daily basis; this they leave to the SLA.
Blanford told Human Rights Watch that he had no evidence of direct Israeli involvement in the expulsion of residents of the zone, but added:
They don't need to become directly involved. This is the task of the SLA, although the Israelis will at least be aware of any expulsion and in most cases will probably have ordered it in the first place. Ultimately, the Israelis control every facet of the occupation zone either directly or through their client militia.42
It has typically been SLA militiamen who have transported individuals and families to one of the SLA crossing points at the border of the occupied zone and expelled them. In many cases, expellees recounted how local SLA security operatives informed them that "the Israelis" had ordered the expulsion. Virtually every Lebanese interviewed by Human Rights Watch for this report, including senior Lebanese foreign ministry officials, claimed that the SLA carried out expulsions based on Israeli orders. One Lebanese foreign ministry official knowledgeable about intelligence operations in the zone told Human Rights Watch that the military officer who commands the IDFLiaison Unit to Lebanon is responsible for decisions in the field of a military nature, while Uri Lubrani, the coordinator of activities in Lebanon at Israel's Ministry of Defense, "makes policy," and has the final word on actions that will have an impact on the civilian population in the zone, such as expulsions.
A member of the Western diplomatic community in Lebanon shared these views. He said that Israel has a direct role in most expulsions, and that Uri Lubrani's office makes the final decision on individual cases, based on recommendations from Israeli intelligence officers in the field.43 Human Rights Watch is aware of no official Israeli government statements concerning its decision-making role with respect to expulsions although, as noted, Israel's defense minister acknowledged in April 1999 that Israel and the SLA "consult together concerning the arrest and release of people in [al-Khiam prison]."44
Uri Lubrani is the former Israeli ambassador to Iran. The post that he currently holds at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv was created in 1983, prompted by deep concern about the state of intelligence-gathering in Lebanon, according to the leading Israeli daily Ha'aretz:
According to the Jerusalem Post, for years Uri Lubrani's deputy has been Col. (Ret.) Reuven Erlich, "a former chief intelligence officer for the IDF Liaison Unit to Lebanon" and "[i]ntimately involved in every link with the SLA."46 As noted above, Mr. Lubrani did not reply to the letter that Human Rights Watch sent to him in June 1999.When Moshe Arens was appointed Defense Minister following Ariel Sharon's resignation [in February 1983], he characterized what was going on in Lebanon as "an extraordinary intelligence mess" and saw a glaring need for all the various Israeli agencies working in the area to be coordinated. He selected Uri Lubrani for the job; to this day, Lubrani serves as coordinator of government actions in Lebanon.45
9 Arieh O'Sullivan, "IDF-south Lebanon liaison commander: Calls for unilateral pullout endanger troops," Jerusalem Post, June 9, 1998. Israeli journalists who have visited SLA military outposts in the occupied zone have observed SLA artillery and mortar fire "under IDF liaison officer supervision." See Arieh O'Sullivan and David Rudge, "Fighting Against Time," Jerusalem Post, July 31, 1998.
10 Arieh O'Sullivan and Amoz Asa-El, "Moshe Arens: There is no magic solution," Jerusalem Post, March 5, 1999.
11 U.S. State Department, Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Lebanon for 1998.
12 See, for example, Jerusalem Post, June 9, 1998, and Yedi'ot Aharonot, January 19, 1999.
13 O'Sullivan and Rudge, "Fighting Against Time," Jerusalem Post. Unnamed Israeli military sources provided these statistics to the journalists. The Jerusalem Post reported in 1999 that the IDF has increased civilian assistance portion of the funds allocated to the security zone to about $13 million, up from $8 million in 1998. It noted that "[t]he additional funds are to be used for upgrading 120 kilometers of roads throughout the zone and to improve facilities at Marjayoun and Bint J'bail hospitals." David Rudge, "IDF boosts funds to security zone," Jerusalem Post, June 19, 1999.
14 Ronen Bergman, "Fighting blind," Ha'aretz Magazine, May 14, 1999.
15 Suleiman Ramadan et. al. vs. The Minister of Defense, High Court of Justice 1951/99.
16 Ronen Bergman, "Fighting blind," Ha'aretz Magazine, May 14, 1999. The U.N. also reported that "[w]ithin the Israeli-controlled area (ICA), Israeli continued to maintain a civil administration and security service." Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (for the period from 16 July 1998 to 15 January 1999), S/1999/61, January 19, 1999.
17 Andrew Rathmell, "The War in South Lebanon," Jane's Intelligence Review, April 1, 1994.
18 Human Rights Watch interview, Washington, D.C., May 1999.
19 David Hirst, Guardian, March 13, 1999.
20 Just after midnight on September 5, 1997, for example, twelve Israeli soldiers with the Naval Commando Unit were killed when Lebanese guerrillas ambushed them inside Lebanon, where they were carrying out what the IDF termed "an initiated action" - meaning a commando raid - north of the occupied zone, near Insariyyeh along the Lebanese coast.
21 David Gardner, "Hizbollah sharpens up its tactics," Financial Times (London), March 2, 1999.
22 Killed with Gen. Gerstein were two other IDF soldiers and an Israeli journalist.
23 Arieh O' Sullivan, "IDF-south Lebanon liaison commander: Calls for unilateral pullout endanger troops," Jerusalem Post, June 9, 1998. Gen. Gerstein's post as of this writing was held by Brig. Gen. Binyamin Gantz. "Lebanese Town Celebrates Pullout of Militia," New York Times, June 6, 1999.
24 "The Shin Bet carried out a series of detentions in villages in the eastern sector of the security zone in the past few days....Official sources in the Israeli defense establishment confirmed last night that arrests have been carried out." Alex Fishman and Eytan Glickman, "More on Israeli Arrests in South Lebanon," Yedi'ot Aharonot, March 22, 1999, as reported in FBIS Daily Report, FBIS-NES-1999-0322.
25 Future Television (Beirut), Daily Report, April 5, 1999.
26 Human Rights Watch interview, Nabatiyeh, Lebanon, March 1999. The man did not want to provide his name, out of fear for his father who still lives in the village, and additional fear that his own house might be demolished. We have also withheld the name of his village to protect further his identity.
27 He speculated that the request for a doctor's report would enable the security official to justify why he had not followed the Israeli order to detain him.
28 Human Rights Watch interview, Beirut, Lebanon, March 1999. Name and name of village withheld by Human Rights Watch.
29 Captain Ron Arad, a navigator in the Israeli Air Force, bailed out of his aircraft while flying over Sidon in south Lebanon on October 16, 1986. According to the Israeli government, Arad "landed safely," was taken prisoner by the Amal Movement, and was "later transferred to the Iranians in Lebanon." His whereabouts remain unknown. Letter to Human Rights Watch from the Israeli Ministry of Justice, Foreign Relations and International Organizations Department, March 13, 1997.
30 Human Rights Watch interview, Beirut, Lebanon, March 1998.
31 The man also requested that Human Rights Watch withhold the name of his village, which is located in the western sector of the occupied zone. Human Rights Watch interview, Tyre, Lebanon, April 1999.
32 These cases are described in "Collective Punishment," and "Punishing Refusal to Serve the Occupation Security Apparatus," below.
33 See Appendix A for a copy of a permit issued in 1998.
34 Some of those who fled did not attempt to secure permits but left the zone on foot through the hills, not through SLA crossing points.
35 One dunum is approximately one-quarter of an acre.
36 At the time of Human Rights Watch's interview with the family, Ghassan was still detained in Khiam without charge.
37 Human Rights Watch interviews, Beirut, Lebanon, April 1999.
38 David Hirst, "South Lebanon: The strangest war on earth?," Mideast Mirror, June 3, 1999.
39 Author's personal observations from front-line villages in south Lebanon in 1995, 1996, and 1999.
40 David Hirst, "South Lebanon."
41 Arieh O'Sullivan and David Rudge, "Fighting Against Time," Jerusalem Post, July 31, 1998. One mechanism of control has been the selective provision of job opportunities inside Israel for residents of the occupied zone, made available to relatives of SLA militiamen. "Joining the SLA begets...privileges. The soldier's family is specifically favored for work in Israel, and if his family aren't interested he can `sponsor' someone else in return for a cut on his salary. Perhaps 3,000 people commute across the `good fence' everyday." David Hirst, "South Lebanon." The "good fence" passage from Lebanon to Israel is located near the Israeli settlement of Metulah. The U.N. reported that more than 2,500 residents of the occupied zone go to work in Israel daily. See Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (for the period from 16 July 1998 to 15 January 1999), S/1999/61, January 19, 1999.
42 Private communication received by Human Rights Watch, June 29, 1999.
43 The diplomat noted that the only exceptions have been expulsions that were carried out by the SLA to settle intra-Lebanese local scores and were not related to Israel's interests in the occupation zone. Human Rights Watch interview, Beirut, Lebanon, April 1999.
44 Statement of the Minister of Defense, represented by the State Attorney, Ministry of Justice, Suleiman Ramadan et. al. v. Minister of Defense, High Court of Justice, 1951/99.
45 Ronen Bergman, "Fighting blind."
46 Arieh O'Sullivan and David Rudge, "Fighting Against Time," Jerusalem Post, July 31, 1998.