WASHINGTON (Jul. 23)
The United States today “strongly” condemned Israeli air raids yesterday aimed at Palestinian terrorist targets on the Lebanese coast which, it said, caused civilian casualties including women and children. A statement, read to reporters by the State Department’s chief spokesman Hodding Carter, said:
“The U.S. strongly condemns Israel’s air attacks up and down the Lebanese coast on Sunday which hit targets, in one case only five miles from Beirut. The press reports from Lebanon indicate that between 12-18 people were killed and that as many as 70 may have been wounded. The Israeli air attacks were the first in three weeks and we had hoped that these raids which take such a toll in human life will not be repeated.”
Carter said the State Department had no information on the nature of the targets hit but “we have information from the Israelis that they aimed at Palestinian fedayeen targets.” He said the U.S. has reports indicating that women and children returning from excursions to the mountains or beaches were among the persons killed or injured by the air raids. He said the U.S. also had information that the aircraft employed were American-made F-4 Phantom jets.
Carter did not indicate where the information he referred to had originated. The information was apparently based on media reports from Beirut, primarily from Beirut Radio or Palestine Liberation Organization spokesman Mahmoud Labadi. The Israeli military communique regarding the raids said only that all Israeli planes returned safely to their bases after attacking terrorist concentrations in south Lebanon.
MAXIMUM RESTRAINT URGED
“Recognizing that there is violence on both sides,” Carter said, the U.S. was urging the Israelis and others, including the Palestinians and Maj. Sood Haddad’s Christian militia which have been parties to “this cycle of violence,” to “exercise maximum restraint so that these targets can be avoided.” He said, “We are continuing to make contact with Israel to make sure that our point is understood,” and added,” I expect we will be following up on this matter as it obviously is of concern.”
Meanwhile the Lebanese government announced in Beirut today that it would protest to the UN Security Council over Israel’s latest air raids and other Israeli attacks by land and sea in the past two months that the Lebanese claim took about 200 lives. Foreign Minister Fuad Butros told reporters in Beirut that Lebanon’s Ambassador to the UN has been instructed to lodge a formal complaint with the Security Council and that President Elias Sarkis would send a note to President Carter.