Israel Air Force jets attacked terrorist strongholds in southern Lebanon today. The attacks were carried out in two waves–at about 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. local time–and seven target areas were hit. Israel’s Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Mordecai Gur, said the targets included concentrations of El Fatah and Fatah headquarters; headquarters, workshops and training areas of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; the PFLP-General Command and the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The two latter organizations were directly responsible for the terrorist massacre at Maalot yesterday.
Gur told newsmen that today’s bombing and strafing raids could be considered retaliation for the Maalot outrage, though he noted that Israeli warplanes had been pounding terrorist targets in southeastern Lebanon before the Maalot events. He hinted at further retaliatory acts.
(Reports from Beirut today claimed that Israeli jets bombed and machine gunned Palestinian refugee camps at Tyre and Sidon and severely damaged residential blocks. Beirut claimed that civilian casualties were high. According to one source in Lebanon, as many as 300 were killed or wounded. The Beirut report said anti-aircraft fire was directed against the Israeli raiders.)
Israel reported that all of its aircraft returned safely to their bases. Gur said, “No doubt the horror of Maalot yesterday helped us to bomb these (terrorist) targets too.” When pressed further by newsmen he said, “You can see it as a retaliation.” In an emotional address on television last night in which she announced the Maalot death toll. Premier Golda Meir declared that Israel will “do everything in its power to cut off the hands that want to harm a child, an adult, a settlement, a town or a village.”
ESTABLISH TERRORISTS CAME FROM LEBANON
An Israeli military spokesman told reporters last night, “There is no retaliation for the lives of 20 children,” meaning that their deaths were beyond reprisal. Israel’s Chief of Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Shlomo Gazit, said it had been established that the three Maalot terrorists had come from Lebanon. Their blood-stained civilian clothing and their boots, produced at a press conference last night, were made in Lebanon as were matches and personal effects found on the bodies.
The dead terrorists, members of the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by Nayef Hawatmeh, were identified as Ziad Abdel Rahim, 22; Ahmed Saleh, 19 and Ali Ahmed Hassan, 27. Israeli authorities denied a report that one of the trio was an Israeli Arab who had worked as a waiter in Safad, the Upper Galilee town where most of the victims came from.
(Speaking in Beirut today, Hawatmeh attacked Secretary of State Kissinger’s peace mission in the Middle East and praised the terrorist killers.
(Continued on Page 2, Column 2)
(Continued from Page 1, Column 1)
Reports appearing in the press today said that the young campers from Safad in fact had been stopped by a military unit the day before they arrived in Maalot and warned that terrorists were in the vicinity. They were stopped at the Abdon-Bridge in Western Galilee, and one of the teachers accompanying them, Yosef Amar, telephoned authorities in Nahariya to ask if the rest of the trip shouldn’t be cancelled. According to the newspaper accounts, the teacher said he was instructed not to cancel the trip but to shorten it. He said he acted in accordance with his instructions to spend the night at Maalot, a small town less than 10 miles from the Lebanese border.
APPOINT INVESTIGATING COMMITTEE
Israeli Police Chief Shaul Rosolio appointed a committee today to investigate all questions pertaining to police involvement in the Maalot events. Specifically, the committee was ordered to determine whether police approval had been given for the camping trip.
The alert in northern Israel was called today on the basis of reports that more terrorists had infiltrated and were headed for Kiryat Shemona, scene of a massacre last month that took 18 lives. It was reported later, however, that the tracks found near Kiryat Shemona were made by Israeli soldiers.
A small diary was found today in the bullet-scarred, blood-stained school building in Maalot. Its owner was unknown, but was probably one of the children who died. It was written in a childish scrawl on pages torn out of an exercise book and recounted hour by hour the happenings of the tragic day. The last entry, timed at just after 5 p.m. said: “Everything is so quiet. I think it’s almost time now, and soon we will be free.” There was no signature, just a large blot of blood smearing the bottom of the page.