TEL AVIV (Aug. 16)
The Soviet Union may try to break the naval blockade which is halting supplies to Arab terrorists and Moslem leftists in Lebanon, according to reports here. If this move takes place, it may create a confrontation between the USSR and Israeli naval units which form part of this blockade of the military supply routes to the Lebanese ports of Sidon and Tyre.
The Soviet involvement, reports noted, may come in response to urgent calls from Yasir Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Abu Ayad, Arafat’s deputy. Ayad stated in an address in Sidon that the PLO has asked the USSR to send food ships to Tyre to demonstrate a Soviet presence and thus deter those who interfere with the supply routes of the PLO.
Reports say that the Soviet Union has replied to Arafat’s request. Although the contents of the Soviet letter have not been made public, it was learned that the USSR informed the U.S. government that the Soviet Union will not accept the existence of a naval blockade that will prevent supplies from reaching Lebanon. The reportedly strongly worded letter to the U.S. asked the American government to intervene with all those concerned.
It was noted here that all those concerned includes Israel which for several weeks has been keeping a close watch on maritime traffic to and from Lebanese ports with the aim of both apprehending Arab terrorists known for hostile activities against Israel and to prevent arms and ammunition from reaching the terrorists.