Fatah Seeking to Draw Israel into Lebanon Conflict

Certain factors in Lebanon appear to be mounting an effort to draw Israel into the Lebanese conflict, an involvement they would expect to have a unifying effect on Moslems and Christian Arabs who would forget their own strife and close ranks against Israel. This became increasingly apparent today in a report from the El Fatah radio in Beirut claiming that Syrian forces have crossed the Litani River in southern Lebanon. (See story P. 4)

Another report emanating from Beirut today placed the Syrians in Marj Ayoun, a Lebanese township just north of the Israeli town of Metullah. All visual evidence attainable from the Israeli side of the line indicates that this report is completely false. Marj Ayoun, plainly visible from Israel, hardly resembles a captured town. Life went on according to the normal routine there last night and today. Farmers were out in their fields, shepherds were tending their flocks and civilian traffic was heavy as usual on Lebanese roads paralleling the Israeli border where many vehicles carried vegetable and fruit to village markets.

Southeastern Lebanon, in fact, appears to be the only peaceful region of that country and is still obviously in the hands of local Lebanese forces, leftists and El Fatah.

Israelis, meanwhile, were watching reports of the disappearance of the United States Ambassador to Lebanon, Francis Meloy, and Robert Waring, Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy, in Beirut today.

(A White House spokesman said late today that both officials were found dead in Beirut.)

NEXT STORY