Menu JTA Search

Fighting in Lebanon at Standstill

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

An Israel Defense Force spokesman denied today reports of gun battles in Beirut between the IDF and the Palestinian terrorists.

The spokesman said that the entire front had been quiet since the early morning hours.

The situation on the battle front in the Lebanese capital seemed to have reached a standstill, with all the parties facing each other, at some places within a distance of only several hundred meters, waiting for developments.

The Israelis will not enter Beirut to wipe out the 6,000 terrorists still in the city, the Cabinet decided yesterday. IDF units were present in the eastern, Christian quarters of the city but according to the Cabinet decision, no attempt will be made by Israeli forces to enter the Moslem, western section, where the terrorist headquarters are located.

2 FOREIGN ENVOYS IN BEIRUT

Two foreign envoys are in Beirut trying to defuse the situation; U.S. Presidential envoy Philip Habib, and the envoy sent by French President Francois Mitterrand, Francis Guttmann. Both were reportedly trying to work out a formula which would restore control in the city to the Lebanese government. Habib reportedly refused to make any contacts with the PLO–but the French envoy did.

Israel is watching the situation, and apparently waiting for the outcome of these diplomatic efforts, made under the shadow of Israeli guns.

According to estimates here, it is still not clear whether these efforts will succeed. Alternatively, the Israelis hope for two other possible developments; that the terrorists will give up, because of their encirclement, or that the Christian Phalangist forces will confront them.

CHRISTIAN, PLO CONFRONTATION SEEN

According to Arab sources, the situation in Beirut is still very unstable, and renewed fighting is feared. The main concern is that renewed fighting would not be limited to the Israelis and the PLO, but would involve the various factions in the Lebanese capital itself — notably a major confrontation between the Christian forces and the PLO. According to these sources, Syrian forces and units of the PLO’s Palestine Liberation army are fortifying themselves on the eastern section of the Beirut-Damascus road and in the southeastern suburbs of the city.

The commander of the Christian Phalangists, Sheikh Bashir Jemayel, told Habib yesterday that the eight-year old fighting in Lebanon is coming to an end, and all the parties concerned must make the difficult decisions needed to save the country.

NEXT STORY