TEL AVIV (Dec. 3)
Helicopter-borne Israeli troops supported by an artillery barrage and air cover, smashed a major guerrilla encampment on the southern slope of Mt. Hermon in Lebanon today. It was the first strike across the Lebanese border since Sept. 5 and was described as the heaviest yet. A military spokesman said the Israeli soldiers killed at least 12 guerrillas, wounded many more and destroyed huge quantities of supplies. One Israeli officer was killed and five soldiers were wounded in the action. The fatality was identified as Let. Shlomo Cohen.
The attack was mounted following the ambush of an Israeli motor convoy in the northern Gold Heights last night in which a civilian bus driver and a soldier were wounded. The target of today’s raid was Djabel Ross, a Lebanese village about five miles from the Israeli border which was known to be a base for saboteurs who planted mines and attacked Israeli territory. A military spokesman said the base was elaborately organized along military lines with ranks of tents, trenches and a large arsenal containing arms, ammunition and high explosives. The arsenal was destroyed, he said.
The Israeli raid lasted more than two hours. It was preceded by a heavy artillery barrage against hill positions around Far Chiba and Cheap, Lebanese villages only a few hundred yards from the Israel-occupied Gold Heights. Guerrillas in this area are supplied from Syria whose border is only a few miles away.
In other military actions, Israel Air Force jets blasted Egyptian military positions in the Suez Canal zone for the fourth consecutive day. All planes returned safely to their bases. Jordanian forces attacked the northern Beisan Valley with heavy mortars last night, knocking out the electric lines supplying Ashdod Yaacov and Kibbutz Afikim. The damage was soon repaired. No casualties were reported.
EBAN SAYS LEBANESE BORDER IS ‘RELATIVELY QUIET’ DESPITE ACTION
Foreign Minister Abba Eban told newsmen that this morning’s airborne attack on guerrilla bases in Lebanon was directed at a concentration of Palestinian terrorists whose exact location was known. He noted that it followed an attack on an Israeli motor convoy from Lebanese territory last night. Mr. Eban said that the latter incident notwithstanding, the Lebanese border is still relatively quiet. Mr. Eban also pointed out that Arabs in the occupied territories are the prime victims of terrorist activities. He said that, so far, 450 Arab civilians have been killed or mutilated by the terrorists, a far higher number than the civilian causalities among Israelis. He said the terrorists were trying to force the Arab population into cooperating with them. Israel must take preventive action when this happens, but it does not administer “collective punishment,” he said.
Israeli circles said today that guerrilla and sabotage activities from Lebanon were expected to escalate in view of the large scale round-ups of saboteur gangs in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.They said that Yasser Arafat, leader of El Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization, has decided to shift guerrilla operations to Lebanon and that the Syrian sponsored Al Saiqa guerrillas will be reactivated in force along Israel’s northern border.
Israel announced today that sabotage rings have been smashed in the Gaza Strip villages of Dir El Balah and Khan Yunis. About 50 Arabs have been arrested on suspicion of grenade throwing, mine-laying and sabotage to railway lines and water pipelines. Large arms caches were seized.