Prelude to the Civil War (1970-1975)
In September 1970, a year after the Cairo Agreement, a long and bloody confrontation between Palestinian armed groups and the Jordanian Army – known as Black September – led to the expulsion of these groups out of Jordan. The PLO was forced to move its headquarters to Beirut. Many refugees and guerrilla fighters followed. These developments contributed to a worsening of the political situation in Lebanon. The new president, Suleiman Franjieh, elected in 1970, proved unable to maintain unity among the various communities, even less so as he was viewed as an ally of the Phalange (although Franjieh was intially an ally, the two later fought each other, and Franjieh’s son Tony and wife and children were assassinated in their home by a group of fighters of the Lebanese Forces under the command of Samir Geagea, Bashir Gemayel’s successor after his violent death in the summer of 1982).
Meanwhile, Palestinian raids into northern Israel continued to lead to retaliations and vice versa. Lebanon had become a buffer country, and was hit on both sides. For the most part, Lebanese public opinion – in particular among the Maronites – considered the Palestinian presence a ‘state within a state’, and dangerous because of Israeli attacks. Others – in particular certain left wing groups – showed solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, some even fighting in their ranks. In 1973, the October War (also known as the Ramadan or Yom Kippur War) exacerbated these feelings.