JERUSALEM (Oct. 17)
Israel continued today to dispute a United Nations charge that it had “fully supported” a violent demonstration yesterday by Christian militiamen and their families in the south Lebanese border town of Nakoura. Two officers of the Lebanese regular army, who are United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) liaison officers, were abducted and damage was inflicted on UN property. (See related story from UN in New York.)
A UN spokesman here claimed, in an official statement to the press yesterday, that three Israeli army officers attended the demonstration. The statement itself, emanating from UN headquarters in Jerusalem, was unprecedented. Israeli military sources said that only one army officer was in Nakoura at the time, accompanied by his driver and radio operator, and that he went there to try to calm the situation after the two Lebanese officers were kidnapped. The officer was identified as Yoram Hamizrachi.
The UN did not comment on the Israeli version but insisted that Hamizrachi was at the scene before the kidnappings. A UN spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at noon today that the two Lebanese have been released.
The Christians broke into the headquarters of UNIFIL yesterday and destroyed a Lebanese army helicopter. The demonstration was in support of demands that UNIFIL take up positions between the Syrian army and Christian forces in Beirut.
According to sources here, the Lebanese officers were not kidnapped but were taken into “protective custody” by Christian militia commander Maj. Haddad Saad to prevent them from being lynched.