TEL AVIV (Feb. 21)
A combined sea and air-borne attack by Israeli forces on two terrorist camps in northern Lebanon last night was described today as an operation designed to foil new terrorist outrages planned against Israel or Israelis overseas. The commandos struck at terrorist bases within the perimeters of refugee camps at Nahar el Bard and El Badawi, 112-125 miles north of the Lebanon-Israel border.
An Israeli military spokesman said scores of terrorists were killed or wounded in the surprise assault. Eight Israeli soldiers were reported wounded, six of them only slightly.
The attack was the deepest penetration of Lebanese territory by Israeli forces to date. According to Israeli military sources, the targets were the camps where Arab terrorists and foreign volunteers who carried out the May 30 Lod Airport massacre and the Sept. 5 slaying of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes at Munich trained for their missions. The explanation for last night’s raids came from military, not governmental sources. The spokesmen were identified as a Maj. Isaac of the paratroopers and Brig. Gen. Emannuel Shaked, commander of a paratroop and infantry brigade.
Maj. Isaac said that in addition to foiling sabotage acts and smashing the terrorist bases, the raids were intended to persuade the Lebanese authorities to take strong action against terrorists operating within Lebanon’s borders. He expressed disappointment at the attitude of some European governments which have released Arab terrorists who were caught red-handed. A Turkish volunteer in the service of El Fatah was captured in the raids, according to a senior Army officer at General Headquarters.
ONLY TERRORIST STRONGHOLDS HIT
The Israeli forces consisted of naval commandos and infantry paratroopers who were conveyed to the target areas by Israel’s speedy missile boats and by helicopter. According to the military spokesmen, complete surprise was achieved. A spokesman said the commandos were carefully trained to hit only the terrorist strongholds and not the adjacent refugee camps. He said the camps were heavily guarded and patrolled, but because of the element of surprise, resistance was swiftly overcome.
The Israeli combined forces reached their targets at 1 a.m. and proceeded to destroy buildings and blow up arms and ammunition caches. The entire force was back on Israeli territory by 3 a.m. At least 40 terrorists are assumed to have been killed in the action. Israeli wounded were air evacuated directly to the Rambam Hospital in Haifa where they were visited this morning by Chief of Staff Gen. David Elazar. The raid was the first Israeli incursion into Lebanon since Sept. 16-17 when Israeli troops raided terrorist camps 15 miles inside the Lebanese border.
A brief communique broadcast today by Beirut radio said the exact number of casualties was unknown but acknowledged that there were many killed and wounded. All hospitals in the area of Tripoli, Lebanon’s northernmost city, were said to be treating casualties. Some casualties were flown south to Beirut. Arab radio stations reported today that the Palestinians were bitterly accusing the Arabs states of failing them. An El Fatah officer was quoted as saying, “We are all alone. We faced the enemy for three hours and no one came to help.”