TEL AVIV (Apr. 24)
Israeli land, sea and air forces have been pounding terrorist strongholds in Lebanon both north and south of the Litani River, a military spokesman disclosed today. The naval bombardment of Palestinian bases on the Lebanese coast that began Sunday, only hours after the terrorist attack on Nahariya, has been continuing for the past 24 hours.
Ground action has been limited so far to artillery. The Air Force, grounded earlier by heavy clouds over Lebanon, went into action today bombing terrorist artillery concentrations on the Arnoun plateau north of the Litani and in the Nabatiyeh area where the Palestinians have placed their artillery, mortars and rocket launchers.
The Israeli communiques have been terse. Most details have been provided by sources in Lebanon, mainly the Christian Phalangist radio and PLO broadcasts from Beirut. Beirut radio said about 10 Israeli fighter-bombers were involved in today’s attacks. Another Beirut report said that EI Fatah headquarters in Ajloun were destroyed by a direct hit and that an Israeli missile boat sank a vessel carrying arms and supplies to the terrorists near Sidon.
Foreign news reports said Israeli missile boats have been active all along the Lebanese coast since yesterday afternoon, mainly in the Tyre area. The reports said villages on the road between Sidon and Tyre were shelled. The Christian militia radio reported that Israeli artillery shelled the Beaufort fortress on the bend of the Litani where Palestinian forces are concentrated. Other reports said the militia itself joined in the shelling of Nabatiyeh.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians have charged that the Israelis and the Christian militia commanded by Maj. Saad Haddad were firing American shells at the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and a Lebanese regular army battalion deployed in the UNIFIL -controlled area of south Lebanon. Israeli spokesmen emphatically denied these charges. They said the terrorists themselves had attacked UNIFIL personnel on seven occasions and tried to put the blame on the Christian militia.