TEL AVIV (Jun. 8)
Premier David Ben Gurion, Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Chaim Laskov and top Foreign Ministry officials discussed today the situation which developed from the interception last night and today of more than 20 heavily armed Lebanese moving from a training camp in Syria to southern Lebanon where they were scheduled to begin guerrilla operations against the Lebanese Government and army.
One of the major points under discussion was what to do with the prisoners. Although official circles maintained silence on this question, it is understood that a decision has already been reached. Several newspapers today predicted, on the basis of “authoritative” information, that they would be handed over to the Israel-Lebanese Mixed Armistice Commission, which means to the government against which they were preparing to act.
In the past, infiltrators have been handed over to the MAC for punishment by the Lebanese Government, but in the context of the present revolt in Lebanon any action by the Israel Government, whether to follow precedent and hand then over or to hold on to the prisoners, will be interpreted as Israel’s taking sides in a political issue in an Arab state. Already, Radio Cairo has charged Israel-Lebanese cooperation.
In anticipation of further attempts by Lebanese rebels and Syrians to use Israel as a passage way for arms and men to be used in the continuing battle to unseat the Chamoun Government in Beirut, the Israel army and border police have stationed additional forces along the northern and north-eastern border.
A report on the interception of the Lebanese rebel force is being prepared for submission to the United Nations Security Council, which is seized of the Lebanese complaint that the United Arab Republic is interfering in the Lebanese civil war. Also, the Israeli authorities protested against invasion of Israel territory, to both the Israel-Lebanese and the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commissions.
SMALL LEBANESE GUERRILLA FORCE SOUGHT TO USE ISRAEL AS PASSAGEWAY
The authorities in Galilee reported today the capture of two more armed Lebanese last night and several today. One was killed yesterday and one wounded last night as Israeli border units continued rounding up scattered members of the band, believed to have numbered 61.
Interrogation of the prisoners revealed that they were young men between 20 and 23 living in Lebanese villages along the Israel border and working in Beirut as laborers. When the rebellion broke out and a curfew was clamped or the country, they were confined to their own small area and were reached there by agents of Ahmed el Assad, one of the leaders of the rebellion.
The young Lebanese were recruited for service “to defend” their villages against the government. They were marched into Syria where, at the village of Baniyas, they were issued French-manufactured guns, bayonets and ammunition and an American-made gas mask kit. After three days of training, they were marched back to Lebanon to begin a campaign of rebellion, ambush and sabotage. They were told that large quantities of explosives would be sent after them.
The leaders of this small guerrilla force decided to use Israel as a passageway because they believed that Lebanese army units would be less watchful along this border than on the Lebanese-Syrian frontier. The captured Lebanese were particularly bitter against M. Assad, on whom they placed responsibility for their present plight.
When they were first intercepted by four Israeli border policemen patrolling the area between Metullah and Kfar Giladi, the Lebanese cut and ran back toward Syria. In a subsequent marshalling of Israeli policemen throughout the border region, they were rounded up in small groups. The one man was killed and the second wounded in separate actions when the groups they were with refused to halt upon orders of the Israeli military.