WASHINGTON (Dec. 3)
State Department sources appeared today to accept Israel’s contention that yesterday’s air raids on sites on northern and southern Lebanon were aimed at installations from where it is well-known that terrorist groups launch attacks against Israel. The sources noted two recent terrorist attacks–the murder of three Israeli students at Ramat Magshimim on the Golan Heights and the Zion Square bombing in Jerusalem last month which took seven lives.
The Department sources’ agreement with Israel in effect that the air strikes were preventive measures aimed at thwarting terrorist assaults against Israel was expressed as Lebanese authorities claimed that the Israeli raids struck refugee camps killing and wounding large numbers of civilians. Lebanon has requested a meeting of the Security Council over the attacks.
Observers here believe that the State Department is seeking to appease Israeli anger at the U.S. over its support of Sunday night’s Security Council resolution which opened the way for participation by the Palestine Liberation Organization in a Middle East debate next month.
Department spokesman John Trattner said today “We are in the process of getting all the facts (about the air strikes) and we are in touch with both sides and will explain further our views in the forthcoming discussions in the Security Council.” He added: “We have repeatedly deplored the cycle of violence and counter-violence in the Middle East which takes innocent victims of both sides and creates elements of bitterness not conducive to the ongoing search for peace.”