TEL AVIV (Apr. 12)
An Israeli soldier, Cpl. Ilan Clapper, of Herzliyah, was killed today in a clash with terrorists in the western sector of south Lebanon, a military spokesman announced. The army also published the names of three soldiers killed yesterday when their halftrack plunged into a deep canyon during the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the eastern sector of the front.
They are: Pvt. Orr Ben-David, 19, of Kibbutz Lahav; Pvt. Gideon Ziv, 20, of Tirat Ha-Karmel; and Ziv Levin, 20, of Kibbutz Afikim. A fourth soldier injured in the accident, was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Israel. His name was not immediately disclosed. According to a military spokesman, a soldier who was unlicensed and unauthorized to drive a half-track took the wheel of the vehicle and lost control, causing it to careen off the road into the canyon and overturn.
Apart from the accident, the first phase of the withdrawal was completed without incident at 6 p.m. local time today. A Norwegian unit of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was scheduled to take control of the evacuated area at that time. Israeli forces are preparing for the second stage of their withdrawal which begins Friday at the eastern end of the central sector of the front.
Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, along with his deputy, Mordechai Zipori, and Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur, met last night with Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo, supreme commander of UN forces in the Middle East, to review the first stage of the pullback and discuss future withdrawals.
FRICTION BETWEEN UNIFIL, CHRISTIAN ARMY
UNIFIL units were reportedly bringing armored cars, artillery and other equipment into the areas under their control. But friction has developed between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Christian army headed by Maj. Sa’ad Haddad. The Christians have made no secret of the fact that they felt more secure under Israeli control and have serious doubts that UNIFIL can protect them from the return of Palestinian terrorists. Anti-UNIFIL slogans have appeared on walls in Christian villages and in some places Christians demonstrated against the Israeli withdrawal.
When a Christian patrol approached Abel A-Saki village right after its evacuation by Israeli forces yesterday, they were stopped by UNIFIL soldiers. Haddad retaliated by ordering his men to prevent the entry by UNIFIL units into villages held by Christians. Israeli Minister of Agriculture Ariel Sharon visited the Christian villages of Marj Ayoun and Kle’a today to assure the population that Israel’s commitments to them are unchanged.
UNIFIL, still below its authorized strength of 4000 men, is being augmented daily by men and equipment. An advance unit of 30 Nepalese officers and soldiers arrived in Israel to night and were quartered at an Israeli army camp prior to entering Lebanon tomorrow to inspect an area assigned to a Nepalese battalion. They will be deployed between Norwegian and Swedish units in the central sector of the front. Twenty American transport planes will fly the Nepalese battalion and its equipment to the area tomorrow. American transports are also delivering weapons and a field hospital for UNIFIL.
Meanwhile, Israeli units continue to assist Lebanese refugees returning to their villages at a rate of about 1000 a day. Israel estimates that about 55,000 refugees who fled the fighting last month have returned. Those include many who hid out in valleys and orchards while the rest sought safety in Tyre or Beirut.