TEL AVIV (Apr. 17)
One Israeli soldier and six terrorists were killed in a heavy exchange of rifle fire and grenades near Zarit on the Lebanese border shortly before midnight last night. The dead soldier was identified as Sgt. Yossi Bar-Meir, 22, of Kibbutz Afikim. Six other Israeli soldiers were wounded and evacuated to hospitals.
The encounter was the second since Sunday morning when an Israeli unit killed four heavily armed terrorists who had infiltrated from Jordan with the apparent intent to attack Tirat Zvi , a kibbutz in the Beison area. Last night the terrorists came from south Lebanon. They were spotted by an Israeli patrol which opened fire within grenade range.
The six terrorists were slain after a battle that lasted longer than usual. A number of Kalachnikof rifles, hand grenades and other equipment was found on the bodies. Military sources said it could be assumed that this band, like the one from Jordan, was on the way to attack Israeli villages in Galilee.
Chief of Staff Gen. Raphael Eitan who flew to the scene shortly after the clash, said several hundred Palestinian terrorists are based in the area of south Lebanon controlled by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). According to Eitan, the terrorists are concentrated in four enclaves where UNIFIL personnel are not permitted. He said the purpose of these gangs is to inflict civilian casualties in Israel.
FIGHTING IN LEBANON
Meanwhile, fierce artillery duels raged inside Lebanon today as terrorists exchanged fire with the Christian militia. The Christians shelled the Tyre area for over an hour this morning, halting the advance of a Lebanese army battalion which the Christians claim is a pro-Syrian force commanded by Syrian officers. The battalion stopped at Sidon although it had been scheduled to reach Tyre at noon. It is presently deployed among UNIFIL units south of the Litani River. The terrorists, meanwhile, laid down a heavy barrage on Kle village in a Christian enclave Casualties were reported, but the number is not known.
The entry of the Lebanese battalion into south Lebanon has raised a new issue between Israel and the U.S. Both Washington and the United Nations consider the unit to be the first concrete manifestation of Lebanese government authority in the south. The Israelis hold it in suspicion. But they informed Ambassador Samuel Lewis today that they cannot oppose its deployment north of the Christian enclaves. The Christians-themselves have set up roadblocks to prevent UNIFIL officers in the south from making contact with the battalion.
In a terrorist-related incident, carnage was narrowly averted in Jerusalem today when a passenger on a bus from the center of town to the Hadassah Medical Center at Ein Karem spotted a suspicious-looking object and alerted the driver. All passengers were discharged safely when minutes later, a bomb exploded on the bus. There were no casualties.
AFTERMATH OF BRUSSELS ATTACK
At Ben Gurion Airport last night, Transport Minister Haim Landau and Mordechai Hod, managing director of EI AI, were on hand for the arrival of EI AI Flight 334 which had been the target of an aborted terrorist attack at Brussels airport yesterday afternoon. Both hailed the action of Israeli security guards at the airport who helped Belgian gendarmerie to capture the terrorists. Neither would comment on broadcast reports from Europe that the Israelis and Belgians had advance information about the attack and were prepared for the terrorists.
According to reports from Brussels today, two of the terrorists identified themselves as members of the Palestine Liberation Organization, but the PLO representative in Belgium said his organization had nothing to do with the attack. A previously unknown group, calling itself “Black March,” claimed responsibility last night in Beirut. The name is apparently new as it seems to refer to the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty on March 26.
Belgian police said the terrorists had planned to attack an EI AI plane that had just landed, but finding security too-tight they hurled a hand grenade from an airport terminal gallery. The public prosecutor said they would be charged with attempted murder.