Fifteen years after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, the Defense Ministry yesterday released documentation of the withdrawal, including the blowing up of the iconic Beaufort outpost.
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The Israel Defense Forces evacuated the outpost, located in the foothills of Mount Hermon, on the night it left Lebanon, May 24, 2000. Beaufort had been captured during the first Lebanon War, in 1982, and the adjacent IDF outpost of the same name was built shortly afterward.
Soldiers who fought in the south Lebanon security zone between 1982 and 2000 are now battling to have their service recognized as a war in every respect, including the issue of a special badge for service in the security zone.
The IDF had planned to blow up both of the outposts in the area, Dlaat and Beaufort, on the night of the withdrawal. But while Beaufort was destroyed as planned at 11:50 P.M., Dlaat was not, due to a technical problem. The officers in charge of evacuating the Nahal Brigade later told Haaretz Magazine that when Hezbollah operatives saw Beaufort explode they realized that the same would happen to Dlaat and began shelling the area with mortars until that outpost, too, was finally destroyed.
The story of the soldiers who were posted to Beaufort in the final months before the withdrawal was told in Ron Leshem’s novel “Beaufort,” which was subsequently made into a film of the same name. The film, directed by Joseph Cedar, was an Academy Award finalist in the best foreign film category.
“I didn’t feel as if we’d done anything special until the hugs and the spotlights began,” Ran Kahana, then commander of the Nahal Brigade’s Orev unit and today an IDF colonel, told Haaretz Magazine after the withdrawal. “Wow, wow, I thought to myself, if that’s how it is, then apparently this really was a slice of history.”