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Part 1 The Cold War Era (1945–89), 23 Operation Litani—1978

Myra Williamson

From: The Use of Force in International Law: A Case-Based Approach

Edited By: Tom Ruys, Olivier Corten, Alexandra Hofer

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 22 May 2024

Self-defence — Precedent — Armed attack

This chapter examines Israel’s invasion of southern Lebanon on 14 March 1978, often referred to as ‘Operation Litani’. First, the chapter discusses the immediate and long-term causes of the Israeli invasion: the former includes the ‘Coastal Road Massacre’ that occurred on 11 March 1978, whilst the latter includes the effects of the Palestinian presence in southern Lebanon. The second section analyses the positions of the main antagonists, setting forth the positions adopted by Israel, Lebanon, the PLO, Jordan, the US, Syria, Egypt, Kuwait and the United Nations’ Security Council. The third section discusses the legality of this use of force, purportedly an act of anticipatory self-defence to prevent future attacks. Finally, the chapter offers a brief conclusion on the precedential value of this incident. It concludes that the Israeli use of force, which was unanimously condemned by the Security Council, was unlawful.

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