The Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) began in Beirut on April 13, 1975, as a clash between elements of a Christian Lebanese right-wing militia and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). By that time, however, the Lebanese social and political fabric had been straining for at least a decade. Regional developments, such as the intensifying Arab– Israeli conflict after 1967, and increasing internal economic inequality, had exacerbated political tensions. Many factions began arming themselves, and formed semi-professional militias even before the outbreak of war. After the conflict was under way, those not yet armed scrambled to catch up; soon, Syrian and Israeli forces entered the conflict. Although only a minority of the population participated in violence, during the next fifteen years Lebanon witnessed some of the most brutal and protracted armed conflicts of the twentieth century. 1