TEL AVIV (Aug. 30)
Israeli military sources reported today that a group of military correspondents and several foreign journalists have been shown an American 105-mm howitzer shell fired by Palestinian terrorists into a Christian enclave, contradicting a statement by the United States Embassy in Beirut that the U.S. was not now delivering arms or ammunition of that caliber to any of the parties in conflict in south Lebanon. According to the sources, the serial number on the shell indicates that it was produced in the 1970s.
The Embassy statement contended that several 105-mm howitzer guns were lost by the Lebanese army to various factions during the 1975-76 civil war in Lebanon. Arms of this caliber had last been delivered almost five years ago to Lebanon and these may have fallen into the hands of terrorists, according to the Americans.
(In Washington, State Department spokesman Hodding Carter said yesterday, in response to reporters’ questions as to how some 30 U.S. 105-mm howitzers and ammunition for them got into the hands of terrorists in south Lebanon, that such guns and ammunition have not been delivered “for over four years” to Lebanon.)
CHRISTIAN LEADER DECRIES INDIFFERENCE
Meanwhile, the leader of the Christian militia spoke bitterly in his headquarters in the Marj-Ayoun office of the apparent indifference to the fate of the Lebanese Christians by all the protagonists, except Israel.
Maj. Saad Haddad said to Israeli reporters, “Why don’t they speak of us being bombed and shelled? Are we not human beings? Don’t we have a right to live? Declaring that a family of four Lebanese Christians was killed by Palestinian fire at Mis Ad-Jabel, including a child and an old man, Haddad said “no one raised his voice. Has our life no value? Where is world public opinion?”
He was particularly bitter in noting that there had been no condemnation of the killing of 10 Christian civilians last week in Sidon by terrorists of George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Naif Hawatmeh’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Haddad told the Israeli reporters that “the world serves the terrorists and the reason is Arab oil.”
Haddad handed the reporters a note he said he hoped they would transmit to President Hafez Assad of Syria. Haddad quoted Assad as saying that had it not been for the Israelis in south Lebanon, the Lebanese army would have been able to take control of the area. He said he would tell Assad to drop his speculation about encounters between Lebanese and Lebanese, adding “let him send a Syrian force and we will be ready for it.”
MILITIA ON THE ALERT
Some reporters felt that challenge was an exaggeration but a tour of the Christian enclaves indicated that Haddad’s militia was on the alert. Moreover, while many troops of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) complain they would like to go home, some of the units are beginning to take their assignments — one of which is to keep the Palestinian terrorists away from Israel’s northern border — more seriously. The reporters said this was particularly true of the new Norwegian unit, the Nepalese, the Fijis and even the Dutch.
An Israeli army spokesman said that all UNIFIL casualties — listed by UNIFIL General Emanuel Erskine as 10 dead and 13 injured — have been victims of the terrorists, not of Israeli or Christian militiamen.