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Thousands of PLO Fighters Reported in Beirut Area and Bekaa Valley

Israel’s chief of military intelligence services, Gen. Ehud Barak, estimates that there are at least 1,000 armed Palestinian terrorists in the Beirut area and “thousands of PLO fighters are in the Bekaa valley” of eastern Lebanon.

In an interview published today in the army magazine, “Bamahaneh,” Barak warned that “We do not plan to allow the PLO to renew their infrastructure in the area we have evacuated in the Shouf, and I think that those in control there know this,” he warned but without detailing how it could or would be done.

The intelligence chief said the Palestinians in Beirut comprise small units with personal arms. All Palestinian fighters were supposed to have left Beirut just a year ago when the city was under seige by the Israeli army. The Palestine Liberation Organization was given safe conduct out of the city under the supervision of the first contingent of U.S. marines sent there by President Reagan. They were allowed to carry their personal arms with them.

Israel invaded Lebanon in June, 1982 to destroy the PLO as a military and political force and secure Israel’s northern borders from terrorist attacks. An un-Identified military source was quoted in Maariv today as warning that the PLO, now said to be supporting the Druze offensive against Christian Phalangists in the Shouf mountains, may soon be able to reconstruct the military infrastructure in Lebanon that Israeli forces destroyed 15 months ago.

REDEPLOYMENT WAS LESSER OF TWO EVILS

Barak was quoted as saying that the army was aware of the PLO support of the Druze when it evacuated the Shouf area two weeks ago to redeploy along the safer Awali River line.

The redeployment of the IDF along the Awali River was the lesser of two possible evils, the choice between keeping Israeli soldiers exposed to danger or to withdraw knowing that what might happen in the Shouf area would not be to Israel’s liking, Barak said.

He told Bamahaneh: “The Druze superiority over the Phalangists in Lebanon did not surprise Israel. Their superiority, like Syria’s success in increasing its influence in Lebanon, almost without using its full power, was one of the reasonable possibilities foreseen by Israel in its withdrawal from the Shouf.”

DESCRIBES SYRIA’S AID TO THE DRUZE

Barak said the Syrians were aiding the Druze and their allies by providing them with supplies, ammunition and weapons and even allowing their “satellites” to fire from Syrian-held territory. He said he did not think the Syrians would come to terms with Israel remaining in its presently-held area of Lebanon but would try to get Israel to withdraw completely, possibly by encouraging and allowing terrorists to attack Israeli forces south of the Awali River.

The intelligence chief conceded that the aims of the Lebanon war had not been fully achieved, even though the PLO had been driven out of south Lebanon, and large quantities of their arms had been captured and their headquarters in Beirut was dismantled.

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