TEL AVIV (Aug. 7)
Israel Air Force planes attacked twice today terrorist bases in the “Fatahland” area of southeast Lebanon in apparent retaliation for the kidnapping of four Druze workers by Arab terrorists yesterday. The first raid at 1 a.m. (local time) was followed by another one this afternoon. Israeli officials, however, denied the raids were in retaliation for the kidnapping.
The four Druze laborers, who were employed by the Israel army, were reinforcing the security fence along the Israel-Lebanon border near Har Dov when they were kidnapped by three armed terrorists and taken across the border into Lebanon. A fifth worker escaped and reported the incident. One of the kidnapped Druze escaped from his captors during the night and managed to find his way back to Israel by this afternoon. He said he had been kept in the village of Rashaya-Al-Fukhar which was one of today’s targets, and also kept in the village of Kafar Zayid, a target of past attacks.
After the incident was reported yesterday an Israeli army unit crossed the border in an attempt to find the kidnapped Druze. However, the Lebanese army intervened with mortar fire The Israeli unit returned fire before recrossing the border. This was the first time the Lebanese army has taken action against an Israeli unit that was searching for terrorists.
The Israeli unit took six Lebanese civilians from the village of El Madjiyeh back to Israel for questioning. Israeli sources noted that terrorists, who had several months ago retreated back into the interior of Lebanon, have been returning to “Fatahland” recently. The sources stressed that the villagers must have seen the terrorists leaving for Israel and returning with their captives. The Red Cross is making efforts to locate and secure the release of the kidnapped Druze workers.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Shimon Peres and Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur addressed several thousand soldiers from technical services of the Israel Defense Force, most of whom are finishing their compulsory three years of service, and appealed to them to remain in the army “in the face of the threat of renewed hostilities.”