TEL AVIV (Jul. 4)
The renewed fighting between Moslems and Christians in southern Lebanon may be linked to a terrorist plan to embarrass Israel and prevent the free movement of Lebanese villagers through the open fence, it was reported today. Villagers entering Israel for medical treatment said the terrorists were trying to provoke Israeli military action along the Lebanese border before Premier Menachem Begin’s meeting with President Carter in Washington later this month. Lebanese authorities were said to be collaborating by spreading reports that an Israeli attack was imminent and appealing to the U.S. to try to prevent it.
Israel is keeping a close watch on events in southern Lebanon where an estimated 3000 terrorists are deployed in battle with local Christian residents. Yesterday several stray shells exploded in the fields near the Israeli border village of Hanita, site of a fence opening. There was no damage. The shells were believed to have been aimed at the Christian village of Alma W-Shaab which has been under attack by terrorist and Moslem leftists.
Lebanese who came to the open fence yesterday said they had been threatened by terrorists to keep away from Israel and appeared frightened. A 16-year-old boy wounded during the fighting in Yaroun village, came for medical treatment. He said about 40 terrorists occupied positions near the village and turned a mosque into an arms cache. Christians denied Fattah radio claims that Yaroun was captured. Meanwhile, local Christian authorities have renewed their appeals to Israel for help as their situation apparently has deteriorated in recent days.