TEL AVIV (Jul. 12)
Two Israeli soldiers were killed and 16 were wounded in south Lebanon yesterday when a heavy explosive charge was detonated in a concealed roadside position as their convoy drove by. Four of the wounded soldiers were reported in serious condition.
The soldiers, returning to their posts in eastern Lebanon after a weekend leave, were travelling in four trucks escorted by two jeeps. The explosive charge, estimated at 60 kilos, was detonated by remote control by terrorists hiding in the hills overlooking the road.
Army patrols immediately began combing the area. Four nearby Druze villages were placed under curfew and their headmen were warned by the army that if they failed to keep terrorists out of their area, orange groves and fruit orchards on both sides of the road would be destroyed to deny cover to attackers.
The casualties were the first sustained by Israeli forces in Lebanon in several weeks. The respite had been attributed to the recent fighting between Palestine Liberation Organization elements loyal to Yasir Arafat and Syrian-backed PLO dissidents seeking Arafat’s ouster.
ISRAEL PLANS TO REDEPLOY ITS FORCES
Israel is planning to redeploy its forces in Lebanon to shorter, more defensible lines in order to reduce casualties. The Cabinet has endorsed the plan but it is not expected to take effect before Premier Menachem Begin’s meeting with President Reagan in Washington on July 27.
Israel’s ally in south Lebanon, Maj. Saad Haddad, urged the Israelis today to begin the redeployment immediately “without worrying too much about what the Americans or anybody else wants.”
The army disclosed, meanwhile, that terrorists attempted to shoot down an Israel Air Force cargo plane south of Beirut last week with a rocket fired from a shoulder-mounted Strella launcher. The rocket missed the plane which was taking off from an airfield in Damur at the time. The abandoned launcher was found nearby.