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Posted November 4, 2002
Books that portray an objective, fair and unbiased assessment of Israel's `Operation Peace For Galilee' are very difficult to find.. In my experience most books on this subject appear to have a hidden agenda of vilifying Israeli military involvement in Lebanon whilst casting aside the wholesale, indiscriminate cross-border terrorism of Palestinian terrorist entities that caused such an involvement in the first place. Other books appear to be dedicated to the de-humanisation of then Defence Minister, Ariel Sharon, for an alleged connection to the horrific massacres of Palestinians at the Sabra/Shatila refugee camps by Lebanese `Christian' Phalange militia. This book is refreshing and perhaps unique in that it seeks to provide as balanced an analysis as is possible. Richard Gabriel, Professor of Politics, only proceeded with this book on the understanding that he was able to avoid any involvement with the Israeli censors and that he was permitted to obtain a neutral publisher. The final results of Professor Gabriel's study only being seen upon publication by any interested parties at the very same time as everyone else. Professor Gabriel was able to draw upon interviews with many journalists - Lebanese, European, British, American and Israeli. The author was also able to spend unsupervised time with `PLO suspects' detained in Israeli and Lebanon to gather the personal impressions and opinions of these prisoners in relation to their treatment and the conflict itself. Access was also provided to numerous Palestinian Doctors and Nurses in Lebanese camps and also to many high officials in the Lebanese Government and combatants/members of the `Christian' militias, the Druse militia and the Amal Moslem milita, thus providing some `enlightening' information on the nature of the ethnic and religious hatreds prevalent within Beirut and Lebanon. Similar access was provided to the Israeli side which also included interviews with the battalion & company commanders in the field together with the `common' soldiers who bore the brunt of the combat. The author was provided with his own transport and able to travel throughout the Lebanese battle zones, retracing by car or on foot, all the major routes of advance taken by the major Israeli units. This included the Bekaa Valley, Damour, the outskirts of Beirut itself and the region overlooking Damascus. The author, having access to the actual terrain of the battle sites and with some eighteen years as a former Army & Intelligence officer, was able to comment in knowledgeable context about the operations at first hand. One is left in no doubt about the horrors of this conflict and the traumas of having to frequently fight against an enemy hiding in civilian areas, with the harrowing experience which unavoidably ensued, of seeing civilians die as a result of military actions. The author analyses the Sabra & Shatila massacres in some detail and credits the Israeli Government for not following the path of the debatable US Government reactions in relation to the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and instead proceeding to condemn the action outright, whilst also convening an immediate tribunal of investigation. (Might I respectfully direct those interested in Ariel Sharon & the Sabra/Shatila incident to the excellent work by Uri Dan entitled "Blood Libel". This book covers in depth the trial/court-case against Time Magazine for it's allegations against Sharon in relation to the episode. Oft ignored information is aplenty in this particular work.) As is the nature of this book by Professor Gabriel, the main features involve the immediate context surrounding Israeli operations in Lebanon. Of necessity therefore, I suppose many aspects of the Lebanese conflict are unable to be included in any detail. For example, the massacres at Tel az-Zataar and the Lebanese Christian towns of Damour, Aishiye, Beit Mallat and Tall Abbas. Massacres committed at these places by PalestiniWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.