TEL AVIV (Sep. 13)
Chief of Staff Gen. Rafael Eytan reportedly told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee yesterday that Soviet and Libyan military experts are training Palestinians in Lebanon in the use of sophisticated weaponry. Eytan’s briefing was closed to the press. The reports of it that appeared in local newspapers this morning confirmed that the Knesset committee is prone to leaks. Gen. Eytan cited that situation to justify his refusal to inform the MKs of Israeli plans to deal with the situation in Lebanon.
The Chief of Staff reportedly expressed concern over Syrian intentions in Lebanon. He said these were not known and not predictable but evidently were part of an overall plan that proceeded regardless of such diplomatic activity as President Hafez Assad’s official visit to West Germany this week.
Eytan reportedly said that Syrian artillery in Lebanon is within range of large Israeli settlements but refused to reply to questions about possible Israeli counter-measures on grounds of leakage. With respect to the Russian and Libyan presence, he reportedly said that the training of Palestinians was being conducted on the brigade level and that Palestinians were also being trained in Libya.
Meanwhile, it was apparent that the Lebanese central government in Beirut is unable to exercise authority in south Lebanon. A heavy artillery duel took place yesterday morning between terrorists and the Christian militia in the south. Israeli sources said that terrorist strength in south Lebanon is now at about the same level as it was before the Israeli invasion of that territory last March, despite the presence of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The terrorists and the Christian militia exchanged artillery fire over the heads of the UNIFIL troops, mainly in the eastern sector of south Lebanon just north of the Israeli town of Metullah.