TEL AVIV (Apr. 9)
A military spokesman confirmed this evening that Israeli army units are patrolling an area of south Lebanon in what he described as preventive action to forestall terrorist incursions into Israel. The move into Lebanon followed by two days the terrorist attack on Kibbutz Misgav Am in upper Galilee in which three Israelis were killed and 16 wounded.
News reports from Lebanon today said Israeli forces, estimated at between 60-100 troops, though possibly more, had set up positions and encampments at at least four sites 3-4 miles inside Lebanese territory. The Israeli force was said to include a number of troop carriers and one bulldozer. It was reported to have surrounded the villages of Tiri, Taibeh, Shokra and El Bar, in the region controlled by the kish units of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The Israeli troops apparently entered Lebanon early this morning. Reports of their presence there, from Beirut and UNIFIL headquarters initially drew no comment from Israeli authorities. The reports said the Israelis were setting up tents and erecting barbed wire fences. Beirut radio said they also set up rood blocks in the area.
There were no indications whether any further moves were planned in south Lebanon or retaliatory action For the Misgav Am outrage. But MK Moshe Arens, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, said during a visit to Misgav Am today that the terrorist raid was made possible by the inaction of the Israeli army. He said on offensive policy was needed to keep the terrorists off balance and prevent them from organizing attacks on Israel.
Some Knesset members were sharply critical of UNIFIL because the terrorists had managed to infiltrate its links. They charged that the UN force not only allows the terrorists to operate and pass through the areas under its control but constitutes a problem for Israel should it decide to retaliate for terrorist assaults.
Meanwhile, a team of army experts and civilian engineers investigating why the electronic alarm system failed when the terrorists penetrated the security fences surrounding Misgav Am, concluded that the failure was mechanical and not due to human error.