JERUSALEM (Jan. 7)
Defense Minister Shimon Peres warned Lebanon today not to permit either terrorists or units of the Syrian army to operate on its territory. Although he spelled nothing out, he indicated strongly that Israel would regard the entry of Syrian troops into Lebanon as an act of war.
Peres made his remarks during a question and answer session in the Knesset. He spoke on the eve of a meeting between President Suleiman Franjieh of Lebanon and President Hafez Assad of Syria at the Lebanese resort town of Shtura, The meeting has increased speculation that Syria would send elements of its army–probably Palestinian units–into southern Lebanon where terrorist concentrations have been subjected to Israeli shelling, air attacks and commando raids. Israel describes these actions as preventive measures to ward of terrorist incursions against civilian centers in Israel.
“The Israeli Defense Forces will not abandon the borders and will not permit its settlements to become targets for terrorists of for foreign armies,” Peres said in reply to a question from Labor MK David Koren. He reminded Lebanon of the lesson Jordan learned four years ago when it permitted terrorists to operate on its soil. Peres also recalled that Israel had made it clear to Jordan at the time that Israel would consider it a hostile act if Syrian forces entered Jordan to bolster the terrorists.
SYRIAN PRESENCE SPELLS CONFRONTATION
If the Syrian army gains a foothold outside the Syrian borders, that would spell the start of a confrontation and an extension of aggression, Peres said. “There is no need for Israel to give advice to Lebanon concerning that country’s affairs, but as far as Israel’s policies are concerned, the situation is clear,” he added,
Peres enumerated nine different terrorist organizations operating in Lebanon today. “All of these organizations share a maximal extremist line in pan-Arab affairs and draw strength from the split that exists in the Arab world,” he told the Knesset. “They have bases in both Syria and Lebanon but they operate from Lebanon because of the weakness demonstrated by the Lebanese authorities which allows them to entrench themselves and turn Lebanon Into a base for their operations,” Peres said,
In a related development, 10 border policemen, including Jews, Druze and Bedouins, were cited for bravery today in connection with the destruction of a gang of three terrorists in a gun battle near Manera last month, The citations were awarded by Border Police Chief Chaim Levi at ceremonies held at Metzudat Coah, a police outpost near the site of the battle. Levi said the border police have improved their methods to a point where terrorist infiltrators can be intercepted almost as soon as they cross the border into Israel.