TEL AVIV (Dec. 30)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan defined the commando raid on Beirut International Airport Saturday night as a “new dimension” of Israeli policy. He said the previous retaliatory raid into Jordan which destroyed key highways and bridges were also part of the same policy designed to convince the Arabs that their guerrilla warfare against Israel is not worthwhile in the long run.
Gen. Dayan, who addressed a new faction of the Israel Labor Party which he leads, chided those who worry about Israel’s “image” before the world. He said there were some who had reservations about hitting Beirut Airport and were concerned with the repercussions of a strike against the international airways of a sovereign state. “The danger is not that we will be without an image but that we will be without international airways of our own,” Gen. Dayan declared.
He referred to Arab terrorist strikes against Israeli commercial aviation — the highjacking of an El Al plane to Algeria last summer and last Thursday’s machine gun and grenade attack on an El Al jet at Athens Airport. “Sometimes we have to stand alone,” he said. “This is not our goal but there is no other way.”
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol defended the Beirut action in a broadcast over Kol Israel radio last night. He said that Israel had refrained from retaliatory measures when the El Al airliner was hijacked last summer. Unfortunately, he said, that did not put an end to the dangerous practice of attacking Israel’s commercial aviation as evidenced by the terrorist attack in Athens. Mr. Eshkol said that Israel had no interest in worsening its relations with Lebanon but on the contrary, wanted to limit the size of its hostile frontier. But Israel was obliged to defend itself against all aggression, wherever it is planned and no matter where it is carried out. “On no account can we accept the notion that war may be waged against us without reprisal as long as those who wage it call themselves guerrillas, not a government,” Mr. Eshkol said.
Foreign Minister Abba Eban received United States Ambassador Walworth Barbour yesterday at the latter’s request. The envoy conveyed his Government’s “distress” over Israel’s raid on Beirut. Mr. Eban stressed that the strike at Beirut’s airport was in direct retaliation for the Arab attack on an Israeli airliner at Athens last week. Mr. Eban reportedly told the U.S. Ambassador that it was absurd to try to divorce the actions of individual Arab terrorists from the Arab governments which train and support them. He said the Arab leaders, including Prime Minister Abdullah Yafi of Lebanon, had repeatedly expressed their wholehearted agreement with the aims and the methods of the saboteurs. He said the terrorists who struck in Athens belonged to an organization that was headquartered in Lebanon and that the Lebanese Government could not be absolved of responsibility for their actions.