TEL AVIV (Jun. 23)
The Israel Air Force went into action today for the second time in 24 hours against Syrian artillery and tanks which tried to advance on Israeli positions south of the Beirut-Damascus highway, a military spokesman said.
He said the aerial sorties began at noon in support of an Israeli counter-attack which repulsed the Syrian advance east of Lake Karoun. He said two Syrian soldiers were killed and several wounded with no Israeli casualties. Israel Radio said today that the Syrians were re-enforced by volunteers from Iran whose presence spurred the Syrians to renew the fighting.
Two Israeli soldiers were wounded this morning when their vehicle struck a land mine in the Rashaya area of the eastern front close to the cease-fire line, a military spokesman said. He disclosed that 47 Israeli soldiers were wounded in fire exchanges yesterday, three of them seriously. The rest sustained light to moderate wounds, he said.
Israel offered to accept a cease-fire yesterday after an escalation of fighting with Syrians east of the city and with Syrians and Palestinians in west Beirut. Beirut was reported quiet today except for several explosions of undetermined origin. Israel resumed its air attacks on Syrian positions yesterday after a nine-day hiatus in order to silence Syrian artillery.
LABOR URGES MAINTAINING CEASE-FIRE
The Labor Party’s Knesset faction adopted a resolution last night calling for strict observance of the cease-fire in Lebanon and warned against any attempt by Israeli forces to capture Beirut or advance against Palestinian forces holding out in the western districts of the city. The faction reversed an earlier decision not to debate the government’s handling of the war in Lebanon until Premier Menachem. Begin returned from the U.S. and reported to the Cabinet.
Labor’s position is that it supported the original objectives of the government in Lebanon but will not support the subsequent widening of the fighting which took Israeli troops to the outskirts of Beirut with heavy casualties. When Israel invaded Lebanon on June 5, Begin insisted that its sole objective was to establish a 40 kilometer (25 mile) buffer zone in south Lebanon to protect northern Israel from further rocket and artillery attacks by Palestinian terrorists.
The Labor Party stated further that while the Palestine Liberation Organization has been dealt a heavy blow, it has not been destroyed and the danger it poses to Israel can be removed only by diplomatic action.