TEL AVIV (Nov. 7)
The Katyusha rocket attack that killed two Israelis in Nahariya yesterday has shifted national attention from economic problems to those of security. Defense Minister Ezer Weizman warned last night that Israeli forces would react swiftly and decisively against any flare-up of terrorist activity along the Lebanese border. Weizman, accompanied by Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur and the commander of the northern district, paid condolence calls on the bereaved families of Louis Levy and Shmuel Mintz, the victims of the Katyusha barrage.
The army determined that Ras A-Naqoura, a Lebanese village just north of the border on the Mediterranean coast, was the launching point for the attack on Nahariya. Israeli sources said the village was evacuated by its civilian population some time ago and is in the hands of terrorists who control the coast road from Beirut to the Israel border.
Israeli forces opened a retaliatory artillery barrage against the terrorist stronghold at 9 p.m. last night, some five hours after the attack on Nahariya. The delay was attributed to Israel’s reluctance to precipitate a new round of fighting while negotiations with Lebanese authorities continue.
ARMY EXERCISING RESTRAINT
Israeli and Lebanese army officers have been meeting at regular intervals to work out plans for a Lebanese army take-over of terrorist strongpoints in south Lebanon as required by the terms of the Sept. 26 cease-fire. Israeli units along the border are under orders to exercise utmost restraint in the hope that the Lebanese will be able to prevail upon the terrorists to pull out of their positions.
There is an extremist element among the Palestinians that has been defying the cease-fire. They are abetted by PLO chieftain Yasir Arafat who declared in Sidon yesterday that Palestinian forces will not withdraw because that would mean surrender to the Israelis. So far, the rehabilitated Lebanese regular army has not made its appearance in south Lebanon.
The attack on Nahariya was justified by the terrorists on grounds that Israeli artillery shelled the Moslem stronghold of Nabatiyeh in southern Lebanon three days ago in support of Christian forces. Israel has denied intervening in the latest Moslem-Christian fighting.
Meanwhile, sporadic terrorist acts continued inside Israel. A small bomb exploded in a trash bin in the Petach Tikva central bus terminal this morning. There were no casualties.