TEL AVIV (Apr. 2)
A 1000-man Norwegian army unit arrived in Israel Friday and encamped at an Israeli army base over the weekend prior to entering south Lebanon where it will constitute part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Norwegian officers toured the Metullah area today to inspect the sector of south Lebanon that their troops will patrol. A senior officer said their main problem will be land mines of the plastic variety that are undetectable by mine detectors.
Land mines caused the first UNIFIL casulaties last week when one Swedish soldier was killed and another wounded in a mine explosion near the Litani River in south Lebanon. Meanwhile, Gen. Emmanuel Erskine of Ghana, commander of UNIFIL, said in a radio interview today that his instructions were still unclear as to the scope of operations permitted the UN force. He said he would use force if necessary to prevent armed persons from entering south Lebanon. But the UNIFIL contingents are not authorized to take action against armed terrorists deployed north of the Litani.
Israel’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Mordechai Gur, revealed in newspaper interviews published Friday that Israeli intelligence had advance knowledge last month that terrorists were training at Damour, south of Beirut, for an assault on Israel. They did not know, he said, that the terrorists were planning their attack by sea which resulted in the March II massacre. According to Gur, Israel deliberately refrained from attacking the terrorist base at Damour because it would have caused high civilian casualties.
A subsequent communique by the Prime Minister’s Office revealed that limited action was taken as a preventive measure but did not disclose where. It did not prevent the March II assault.