From Lebanese refugee to Israeli rocket scientist

Arza Haddad, whose father founded the pro-Israel South Lebanon Army, completes her master’s degree in aeronautics at the Technion

Saad Haddad (photo credit: SLA)
Saad Haddad (photo credit: SLA)

The daughter of the man who founded a mini-army in southern Lebanon graduated on Wednesday from a prestigious Israeli university with a master’s degree in aeronautics, having developed a rocket engine that enables speedier and longer-range missile fire.

Arza Haddad, 31, is the daughter of the late Saad Haddad, an officer who split away from the Lebanon Army in 1976 with his unit to create what became the South Lebanon Army, the Maariv daily reported. Haddad allied himself with Israel to fight guerrilla and terror groups and protect the Christian community in South Lebanon, including in the First Lebanon War, whose 30th anniversary falls this week.

After Haddad’s death in 1984, Arza completed high school and then fled to Israel. On Wednesday, she graduated with a master’s degree in Aeronautics from the Technion in Haifa, having worked in research on Ramjet missile engines. The rocket she worked on, she said, “can travel 1,000 kilometers, relatively rapidly.”

The valedictorian at the graduation ceremony, she told Maariv she had not yet decided whether to mention her father in her speech, as “some people remember him well and some don’t.”

She said she herself does not remember her father well as he died of an illness when she was three years old, but that his competitiveness and perseverance were passed on to his family members. She said she had no plans to return to Lebanon. “My whole adult life is here. Israel is my home.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed