NEW YORK (Nov. 2)
As many as 7,000 PLO terrorists — almost half the number of those evacuated from Beirut — have filtered back into Lebanon, an Israel official told the national executive committee of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith at its meeting last weekend in Houston.
Benjamin Netanyahu, minister and deputy chief of mission of the Israel Embassy in Washington, said these terrorists are now redeployed in the Bekaa valley. Another 1,000, he said, are in the Tripoli area of Lebanon. Israeli forces which entered Lebanon to end the PLO terrorist threat to the northern border area, Netanyahu said, expected to deal with a total terrorist force in Lebanon of 10,000 to 15,000.
“But we underestimated the threat,” he told the ADL leaders. He said Israeli forces discovered a PLO force estimated at 30,000 with enough weaponry to arm an additional 30,000 terrorists. “In fact,” he declared, “we realized we were dealing with a PLO army or a force in the developmental stage of 60,000 to 70,000 — and it is not improbable to assume that this force could have reached 100,000. That would have meant a complete PLO takeover of Lebanon.”
Referring to Syrian forces still in Lebanon, Netanyahu said all indications are that the troops are “prepared” to evacuate the Bekaa Valley. “When they do so,” he said, “the thousands of PLO infiltrators under Syrian oegis will probably go with them.”