TEL AVIV (Aug. 26)
South Lebanon was relatively quiet today despite some sporadic firing and shelling from Palestinian terrorists that erupted six hours after a ceasefire went into effect at 5 a.m. local time.
Today’s ceasefire came after terrorists broke an earlier ceasefire last night by shelling south Lebanon Christian villages and northern Israeli towns. A Kiryat Shemona resident, Peretz Meir, 58, was injured and hospitalized during the barrage. But today Kiryat Shemona and other northern Israeli towns were repairing the damage.
While Israel had no official comment on the ceasefire, the Cabinet discussed the situation in south Lebanon today and declared it will continue its raids against terrorist bases in that area. “Of course we are launching counter-attacks against those murderers,” Cabinet Secretary Arye Noor said after the Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “We want to prevent them from carrying out their so-called politics of killing innocent civilian population, and we shall continue.
The first ceasefire went into effect at noon yesterday ending several days of shellfire between the terrorists and the Christian militia headed by Maj. Saad Haddod. The shellings have resulted in many civilians leaving the areas controlled by the Palestinian terrorists. Reliable sources in Israel said the terrorist leadership wants to maintain the tension in south Lebanon in order to force the Lebanese government to seek a condemnation of Israel by the United Nations Security Council.
However, the sources said, because of the increased anger of the local population with the Palestinians and the desire by the terrorist forces for a respite from the bombardment, the terrorists agreed to a ceasefire proposed by Emanuel Erskine, commander of the UN Interim force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Haddad at first refused, saying his troops never opened fire but only responded to the attack by the terrorists. But he finally agreed, after Israel, responding to a request from UNIFIL, urged him to accept the ceasefire. Four Christian villagers and one member of Haddad’s militia had been killed before the ceasefire was accepted.
But then, six hours later, terrorist artillery shelled Christian villages and Israeli towns. Both the Christian militia and the Israeli army returned the fire. A new ceasefire was announced by UNIFIL for 5 a.m. today, but again, six hours later the terrorists opened fire. This time the barrage was not answered.
Sources here noted that while the terrorists are firing their rockets and artillery shells from north of the Litani River they are still deploying some artillery and mortars from inside territory controlled by UNIFIL. A Norwegian officer with UNIFIL has been quoted as saying UNIFIL is losing control of some areas in south Lebanon.
Erskine said in an interview with Israel Radio that serious attempts were being made by Palestinians and Lebanese leftwing terrorists to infiltrate the UNIFIL buffer zone. “I think we have between 200 and 250armed, uniformed (Palestinians or Lebanese leftist) individuals in the area that we ourselves can identify”