TEL AVIV (Sep. 11)
Israel’s Chief of Staff described the air strikes against terrorist bases in Syria and Lebanon Friday as part of a continuing war that began with an upsurge of terrorist activity from those countries. Gen. David Elazar discussed the latest military operations in a television interview today. He said the air attacks were very effective in fighting terrorists.
“We did not attack Syria or Lebanon as such but the terrorist bases that have been permitted to be set up there and are the source of the terrorist activities,” he said. Elazar stressed that every effort was made not to harm civilian settlements, adding that it was unfortunately not always possible to do this because the terrorists customarily locate their bases near civilian centers.
Elazar denied a Jordanian allegation that Israeli aircraft bombed a Jordanian village during a battle with Syrian planes over the Golan Heights Saturday. He blamed the Syrian pilots who, he said, dropped their bombs indiscriminately as they fled pursuing Israeli jets. Elazar claimed that no Israeli bombers were in the air at the time. He confirmed that three Syrian jets were shot down and a fourth damaged and that no Syrian pilots were seen parachuting before the planes crashed.
Tension was evident today in the border region. The Golan Heights were closed to holiday-makers and Israeli settlements in the region were placed on alert.
Meanwhile, reports from Cairo indicated that while the Egyptian government is angered with the Israeli air strikes it is determined to avoid military action in order to go on with the diplomatic campaign to gain political support in Western Europe following the withdrawal of Soviet military from Egypt.