Tel Aviv (Jul. 20)
An Israeli army officer was killed and six soldiers were slightly wounded in a helicopter-borne commando raid on terrorist positions near the Zaharani River estuary in south Lebanon last night.
A number of Palestinians were killed in the attack which was supported by fire from Israeli naval craft off the Lebanese coast. Israel Air Force planes later bombed the site and also hit terrorist positions in the Beaufort Castle area.
Meanwhile, Palestinian rocket fire claimed a fifth victim this morning. A 40-year old mother of three children, Zipora Yesod, was killed in Kibbutz Misgav Am and several other settlers were injured slightly when shells burst in the center of the kibbutz. According to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) the Palestinians fired about 350 artillery shells and about 50 Katyusha rockets into northern Israel during the night. Three Israelis were killed in Nahariya last Wednesday and a fourth was killed Friday in Kiryat Shemona by terrorist rocket fire after a massive Israeli air raid on Beirut Friday. About 30 Israeli settlers have been wounded since the latest escalation of warfare began across the Israeli Lebanese border.
Premier Menachem Begin was reported, meanwhile, to have flatly rejected U.S. special envoy Philip Habib’s appeal for an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon. The two met twice yesterday. Begin reportedly said he would call for a cease-fire only if there is a total freeze on terrorist activities against Israel. Habib is going to Lebanon today and is expected to return here tomorrow.
Begin will convene his Cabinet in special session tomorrow to discuss the situation and the American demand for a cease-fire. He is also expected to send a personal letter to President Reagan explaining the reasons for Israel’s offensive against Lebanon.
Sources here said Begin believes there is no more room for compromise and that the current crisis should be used to reach a final solution with the Palestinians in Lebanon. Israel is said to be unlikely to agree to a cease-fire that would allow the terrorists time to prepare for future hostile actions against Israel.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office indicated that Israeli air strikes on terrorist bases would continue even if they are located in civilian-populated areas. The sources said Begin rejected American criticism of Israel’s air attack on Beirut last Friday in which there were heavy civilian casualties on grounds that the terrorists have been shelling Israeli civilians over a long period.
According to the Israeli argument, the government is exercising its duty “to protect the citizens of Israel.” But the local media reported today that there has been criticism within the government of the hard line advocated by Chief of Staff Gen. Rafael Eitan which Begin fully supports.
TERRORISTS SHELL UPPER GALILEE
Salvoes of Katyusha rockets were fired into the Upper Galilee panhandle last night and at Nahariya without causing casualties. There was also rocket fire yesterday at Jordan Valley settlements from Syrian territory. Gen. Yehoshua Saguy, chief of military intelligence, and other military sources said the attacks must have been carried out with the full knowledge of the Syrian authorities and that they were studying
the implications of these latest developments. Until now the Syrians have rarely permitted Palestinians to fire at Israel from their territory.
Explaining Israel’s raid on Beirut last Friday, Saguy told foreign correspondents at a press conference yesterday that the action followed delivery of large numbers of 130 mm. cannons and 40-barrel Katyusha rocket launchers to the Palestinians as well as T-34, T-55 and T-54 tanks, and SAM-9 anti-aircraft missiles from Syria and Libya. He said these mainly Soviet-made weapons were difficult to spot in search-and-destroy missions. Therefore, it was decided to attack terrorist headquarters in Beirut “to give them something to think about,” Saguy said.
He said all of the targets in Friday’s raid were located within a triangle in the Lebanese capital that has been taken over completely by the terrorists to which Lebanese authorities and civilians have only limited access. He said the principal targets were two buildings which housed the main headquarters of El Fatah and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine on the third to fifth floors with the families of Palestinian officers housed on the upper and lower floors.