TEL AVIV (Aug. 8)
Premier Menachem Begin today disclosed for the first time officially that Israel is providing military aid to the Christians in southern Lebanon. The Premier said if it were not for Israeli aid the Christians would long ago have been “wiped out” by the Palestinian terrorists. Begin’s disclosure was made to 100 Jewish leaders from the U.S. and Canada participating in the 1977 Jerusalem Leadership Conference of the Israel Bond Organization.
“We help them militarily,” Begin told the group who were assembled in the Knesset. “It should not be a secret. Public opinion in the United States and throughout the Christian world should know it. Without our military help the Christian minority would have been totally wiped out long ago.” The Premier also said “when the barrage is opened on the Christian villages we train our fire on the origins of the hostile fire and then it quiets down.”
Meanwhile, Lebanese Christian army officers said today that they were “encouraged” by Begin’s statements when he visited the Golan Heights yesterday that Israel would never desert the Christians in south Lebanon. “We are sure now that Israel will stand by us when needed,” the officers said. “It was good to hear such words said by Begin.”
Meanwhile, the artillery and automatic weapons war between the Palestinian terrorists and the Christian villagers continues in southern Lebanon. The firing can be heard in Israel, especially during the night, when it intensifies. About 24 persons were reported killed or wounded last night.
The Bonds group arrived in Israel last night and Sam Rothberg, general chairman of the Israel Bond Organization, declared: “No change in the complexion of the government will alter the fact that Israel’s beleaguered economy will remain an issue of dominant importance.” Rothberg said the three-day conference will demonstrate “our resolve to help reduce Israel’s dependence on foreign governments for financial aid.”