Lebanese Cabinet Votes to Crack Down on Arab Guerrillas Using Its Territory
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Lebanese Cabinet Votes to Crack Down on Arab Guerrillas Using Its Territory

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The Lebanese Cabinet voted today to crack down on Arab guerrillas using Lebanese territory for attacks on Israel. The Cabinet authorized Lebanese troops to shoot to kill any guerrillas caught firing on Israel from Lebanese soil or planting mines in the border region. The Interior Ministry in Beirut announced that Arab guerrillas would not be allowed to carry arms without a license, as of June 15, and that violators would be prosecuted. The Ministry said the decision was reached in coordination with the guerrilla organizations. Attacks on Israel from Lebanese soil, such as last Friday’s bus ambush that took the lives of eight Israeli schoolchildren and four adults, are in violation of the agreement reached between the Beirut government and the Palestinian guerrilla command last Nov. 3. The terms of the agreement, though never officially disclosed are known to permit guerrillas to use southern Lebanon as a staging area. But the pact allows them to attack Israeli targets only after infiltrating Israeli territory, not from Lebanese soil.

The Beirut Cabinet also voted $10-million to bolster the country’s defense against Israel. But it postponed a decision on Premier Rashid Karami’s controversial proposal to ask other Arab countries for troops to help defend Lebanon from Israel. Mr. Karami proposed yesterday that such aid be summoned from Morocco and Tunis or other Arab countries. Some deputies appeared concerned that an invitation to foreign troops would compromise Lebanon’s sovereignty. Others wanted the government to invite some 6000 Iraqi troops now stationed in Syria rather than men from the relatively moderate and distant North African countries. It was pointed out that it could take months to bring Moroccan or Tunisian forces to Lebanon, whereas the Iraqis could get there in hours.


Mr. Karami’s proposal, though harsh medicine for some Lebanese, was prompted by the general strike yesterday that paralyzed the country. The strikers demanded protection of the southern border region against Israel. The leader of the strike. Imam Musa al-Sabr, chairman of the Shiah Moslems’ community council, warned of further demonstrations and “occupation” of public buildings unless the government ended what he called its neglect of southern Lebanon. Passions were aroused in Lebanon by Israel’s declared intention to police both sides of the Israel-Lebanese border because the Beirut regime has failed to curb terrorist incursions into Israel. Maj. Gen. Mordechai Gur, chief of Israel’s northern command, said yesterday that the Israeli Army would do the job the Lebanese Army would not or could not do. He said he hoped that under Israeli protection, Lebanese villagers who have fled the border regions would return. Lebanese characterized Gen. Gur’s statements as “arrogant.”

Some Lebanese deputies claimed that Israel wanted Lebanon to call in foreign Arab troops because it would give Jerusalem the pretext for occupying parts of Lebanon on the grounds that Israel faced a new Arab menace. One deputy argued that Premier Karami’s plan was useless because Israel is capable of defeating any Arab army. Moderate Lebanese seemed to think that their country’s present crisis was precipitated more by the free-wheeling Palestinian guerrillas operating on its soil than by Israel. Interior Minister Kamal Jumblatt criticized the guerrillas yesterday and declared “Lebanese public opinion decries unorganized actions by some commando organizations such as the latest attack on an Israeli bus.” His statement was the first hint of criticism of the ambush from an official Lebanese source. Arab circles generally appear to have been shaken by world reaction to the slaying of children on their way to school. The Jordanian Minister of Information, Saleh Abu-Zaid, claimed yesterday that the bus was not carrying children but technicians on their way to build a military road. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which took credit for the bus ambush, made the same claim and challenged Israel to produce photographs of slain or injured children. But the Popular Front had said earlier that the school bus was attacked deliberately in revenge against an Israeli air raid last month that allegedly hit an Egyptian elementary school, killing more than 30 pupils.

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