TEL AVIV (Jul. 8)
Four Israeli soldiers were killed in the Beirut sector yesterday when their half-track sustained a direct hit during an artillery duel with Palestine Liberation Organization forces, a military spokesman announced today. Another soldier was wounded by sniper fire today.
The latest casualties in the month-long war were disclosed as newspaper and radio reports made it clear that Israeli forces are preparing for a long stay in Lebanon and are consolidating positions in the areas of the country they control. Commanders of camps and installations have been ordered to move to flatter terrain and prepare an infrastructure, including water pipelines from wells declared safe by the Army Medical Corps.
Officers in command of reserve units have been ordered to prepare to rotate their men so that the burden of service in Lebanon will be more evenly distributed among reservists. The army engineers and military police are completing the construction of a detention camp in the Nabatiya area of south Lebanon for the internment of Palestinian terrorists captured during the fighting.
Israel classifies these prisoners as detainees rather than prisoners of war. The PLO has asked that its men be accorded POW status but the Israelis refuse on grounds that this would imply recognition of the PLO as a national organization with its own regular army.
Several dozen prisoners have already been installed in the new facility following interrogation inside Israel. The camp consists of tents surrounded by high barbed wire fences with watch towers. The entire perimeter of the camp is encircled by high earth dikes which shield it from outside viewers. The camp is supplied with water, electricity and a kitchen manned by the detainees.