TEL AVIV (Sep. 25)
The American embassies in Tel Aviv, Beirut and Damascus worked around the clock over the weekend in efforts to reverse the rapidly deteriorating situation in southern Lebanon where Palestinian terrorists continue to battle Lebanese Christians. The Israeli border town of Kiryat Shemona and Safad in Upper Galilee were targets of terrorist rocket fire during the week. Two people were injured in Safad and five sustained slight injuries in Kiryat Shemona. Safad was hit by Katyusha rockets again shortly before noon today but no casualties were reported.
Defense Minister Ezer Weizman met with the U.S. Charge d’Affairs here today and informed him that Israel would not remain idle if its populated areas continue to come under bombardment. Israel was reportedly under American pressure to withdraw from positions it has taken in southern Lebanon. Israel insists on a general cease fire and guarantees that terrorists will not occupy the evacuated positions and massacre the Christian population.
(Appearing on the CBS television program “Face The Nation” in Washington today, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan denied reports that any Israeli forces were permanently stationed in Lebanon. He conceded that Israel was providing artillery support and supplies to Christian units Israel and that such aid would continue. But with respect to soldiers, he said “I suppose there might be Israeli patrols coming and going. I don’t think there are any permanent Israeli positions there.”)
An Israeli officer, 20-year-old Lt. Yehuda Bonfield of Lod, was killed Friday night and three other Israeli soldiers were wounded when their patrol encountered a terrorist unit near Har Dov on the northern slopes of Mt. Hermon. The terrorists withdrew after an exchange of fire and later launched rockets at Safad and Kiryat Shemona. Israeli artillery laid down a barrage aimed at the terrorist positions.
ISRAEL’S CEASE-FIRE PLAN
The mayors and town council members of Safad and Kiryat Shemona sent an urgent appeal to Premier Menachem Begin and Weizman today to take immediate action to check the escalation. Safad was hit by rockets on Wednesday, Yom Kippueve. Kiryat Shemona was attacked Friday and both towns were hit yesterday and Safad again today. Israel believes that the terrorist activity is supported by the Syrians who allow re-enforcements and supplies to pass through their lines into southern Lebanon. Sources here said that if the situation continues Israel will have to take action to pacify the region.
It was learned that a detailed Israeli proposal for a cease-fire has been conveyed to Syria and Lebanon through the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. The Israeli plan calls for the Syrians to remain north of the Litani River and for Palestinians and Lebanese Christian units to remain in their present positions. Israeli forces would remain on their side of the border. It was stressed here that Israel has no desire to control southern Lebanon.
The Palestinians resumed their efforts over the weekend to dislodge the Christians from positions on Tel Shefra, a hill overlooking the terrorist-held township of EI Khyam. The town was reported to have been leveled by shell fire but Lebanese reaching Sidon today said terrorist units still occupied the site.