TEL AVIV (Mar. 5)
Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon, scenes of ground and air fighting last week, remained peaceful today, But Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff Gen. David Elazar have both warned that any new terrorist activities against Israel from either country would be dealt with swiftly and decisively.
Today, the roads of northern Israel were packed with traffic and visitors who came to view the scene of last week’s Israeli thrust into “Fatahland” in southeast Lebanon. Lebanese farmers were back working their fields and many waved to Israelis driving along the border. The ski-runs on the slopes of Mt. Hermon drew today an estimated 5,000 people. But Israeli military leaders conceded that the scene could change back to one of battle at any time.
Speaking on television Friday night, Dayan said Israeli forces were prepared to cross the Lebanese border again if necessary. He said the entry of the Lebanese Army into “Fatahland” after Israeli forces cleared parts of it of terrorists indicated a fundamental change of policy in Beirut which previously had yielded virtual control of the region to the terrorists. However, he warned, this may not be enough to ensure peace.
SYRIANS HIT AND RAN
Dayan said Israel would be satisfied only when the Lebanese authorities and their army adopt and carry out a vigorous, decisive stand against terrorist gangs. He said he thought the Lebanese government “will try at least to restrict, perhaps to control immediately, the area and not to allow the Fatah to act either from Lebanon or to cross the border.” But he was less certain that Syria would make any effort to curtail the activities of terrorists on their soil who, unlike those in Lebanon, function under the direct control of the Syrian Army.
Syrian planes attacked Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights last week following Israeli air strikes and shelling of terrorist bases in Syria. The attacks caused no casualties and minimal damage. Speaking yesterday on Kol Israel radio, Elazar described them as “hit and run,” observing that “they hit very little and ran very fast.”
But, he said, the Syrian attack confirmed that Syrian armed forces actively support the terrorists. “That was one reason why our counter-strike could not make an absolute distinction between the Syrian Army and terrorist bases and we were compelled occasionally to hit out at both,” he said. According to Elazar, the terrorists suffered dozens of casualties in the latest Israeli raids.