On June 6, 1982, responding to the assassination of their ambassador, 60,000 Israeli troops poured into Lebanon in an effort to end Palestinian raids into northern Israel. Israel had invaded before in 1978, driving up to the Litani River with the help of its client army, the Christian South Lebanon Army, but on this occasion the IDF marched all the way to Beirut, precipitating a general conflict between Christian and Muslim forces inLebanon. Their major ally in this incursion was the Phalange, a virulently anti-communist and anti-Palestinian Maronite Christian militia that had played a major role in the country since the days of the French mandate. Under pressure from Israel Bashir Jumayyil, son of the founder of the Phalange, was elected president of Lebanon, and after his assassination Israeli support went to his brother Amin, who replaced him. During the IDF occupation of Beirut the Phalange, with the complicity of Israeli forces, massacred hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
Israel’s best friend in Lebanon, the Phalange was organized in 1936 by Pierre Jumayyil, who modeled it after another paramilitary organization that had seriously impressed him: the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA or Brownshirts).