JERUSALEM (Jul. 9)
Israeli forces went into action against Lebanese seaports last night in order to prevent further attacks by seaborne Palestinian terrorists originating from those ports against Israeli civilian coastal settlements. Information Minister Aharon Yariv said today. The action was decided upon after Israeli intelligence received reports of terrorist preparations for such further attacks, another highly placed official here added.
Yariv said that the three Nahariya killers of June 24 had set out from one of the three ports attacked last night. “The aim of the action was to disturb preparations for similar raids. There was also an element of warning and deterrence aimed at the local populace–to urge them not to collaborate with the terrorists,” he said.
The naval commandos and air force helicopters left leaflets at each target explaining to the local people this deterrent purpose of the action and seeking to convince them that the terrorists would only cause endless strife and bloodshed on both sides of the border–if they were allowed to base themselves among the Lebanese villages and ports. Yariv said the Israeli force made a major effort to avoid hitting civilians in all their preventive and retributive actions against the terrorists.
INSTRUCTED TO AVOID LOSS OF LIFE
Israeli actions which hit Lebanese property have the effect of bringing pressure to bear on the Lebanese government to curb the terrorists. It is believed here. While there could be no certainty that every boat sunk was a terrorist boat, at least they had assisted the terrorists. Military observers here believe the Cabinet gave strict instructions to the military to avoid loss of life and hit only at property–so as to minimize disapproving world reaction.
A highly placed official suggested today that Israel’s bombing at the end of June of terrorist concentrations in Lebanon had had “an excellent political effect”–despite the adverse reaction of world public opinion. The local inhabitants subsequently brought major pressure to bear on the Lebanese authorities, and there was no reason, to hope that Lebanon, which, always mindful and fearful of Syrian designs on her sovereignty and therefore reluctant to have foreign Arab troops on her soil to defend her against Israel, would decide to avoid an escalation of the raids and retaliation cycle and crack down on the terrorist incursions from its territory, the official said.
He added that Israel hardly expected Lebanon to close down the headquarters of the various terror groups in Beirut–that would be too provocative a step for Lebanon. But the authorities could certainly act to prevent terrorist raids across the border or from ports on the coast against Israeli coastal targets. (By David Landau)