TEL AVIV (Sep. 10)
Fighting erupted in the Middle East over the week-end apparently in direct consequence of the Arab terrorist slaying of 11 members of the Israeli Olympic squad in Munich last week. On Friday Israel Air Force jets struck 10 terrorist bases in Syria and Lebanon in bombing and strafing raids described by Israeli spokesmen as the heaviest and widest ranging since the Six-Day War.
Yesterday Israeli and Syrian jets battled in the air over the Golan Heights. Israel reported downing three Syrian MIGs and damaging a fourth. Damascus acknowledged the loss of three aircraft but claimed that three Israeli jets were shot down. An Israeli spokesman said all Israeli planes returned safely to their bases.
The Israel action appeared to have a two-fold purpose–retaliation for the Munich outrage committed by terrorists whose headquarters are located in Syria and Lebanon and a new concerted effort to wipe out terrorist bases and training camps in those countries. Israeli sources frankly admitted the retaliatory nature of the raids. They also noted an upsurge of terrorist activity along the Syrian and Lebanese borders which in fact preceded the events in Munich.
Israeli sources said the air blows at three bases in Lebanon and seven in Syria was meant to serve as evidence that Israel holds both the terrorists and the countries that harbor them and provide bases for them equally responsible for terrorist outrages.
TERRORISTS SUPPORTED BY LEBANON, SYRIA
The targets announced by Israel sources were, in Syria: El Hameh, about four miles west of Damascus; Burj Islam, north of the Syrian port of Latakia; Jebleh, south of Latakia; Muntar, south of Port Tartus; Sahem el Jylan, east of the cease-fire lines in southern Syria; and Mzeirib and Sweida both in southern Syria. In Lebanon the targets were Nahar el Burd, north of Beirut; Rashya el Wadi, in south west Lebanon and Rabid in southeast Lebanon.
In addition. Israel reported that one of its Navy missile boats sank a small attack boat manned by Palestinian terrorists off the southern Lebanese coast Friday. Israel claimed the terrorists opened fire with bazooka and machineguns.
Israeli sources said there were 9000 terrorists in Syria enjoying full support of the regime which encourages them, trains and supplies them. The terrorist organizations have their headquarters in Damascus. In Lebanon. 5000 terrorists enjoy freedom of movement and action and have operational and political headquarters in Beirut, the sources said.
Lebanon was identified as the base of the Black September organization responsible for the Munich outrage, for the Lod Airport massacre last May, for the earlier hijacking of a Belgian airliner at Lod and the attempt to hijack an El Al jet. While the Black September has been described as a break away from El Fatah, the principal Palestinian terrorist organization, Israeli sources claim it is nothing more than an El Fatah front.
Israeli spokesmen insisted that Friday’s air raids were aimed at terrorist bases only and took care to avoid hitting civilians. Syrian and Lebanese spokesmen claimed that several score civilians including women and children were killed and that civilian villages were bombed to rubble.