TEL AVIV (Jan. 28)
Five Israeli soldiers were wounded in south Lebanon today as attacks on the Israel Defense Force and the South Lebanon Army (SLA) escalated sharply over the weekend.
Three of the soldiers were wounded when their vehicle hit a land mine south of the Hardali Bridge over the Litani River, not far from the Christian town of Marjayoun. Two others sustained slight injuries when an explosive charge detonated as their convoy crossed the Kasmiya Bridge in the western sector of the front.
Two other attacks on the IDF today, five last night and five yesterday caused neither casualties nor damage. They included a bomb explosion yesterday as an IDF patrol passed north of Tyre and an attack on an SLA position inside Sidon with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.
SIX TERRORISTS KILLED
Six terrorists were killed last Thursday in a clash with an IDF unit south of the Awali River. The terrorists had infiltrated across the river into Israel-held territory from an area under Druze control.
They were spotted just before dawn northeast of Jezzine. A military spokesman said a search of the bodies yielded six Kalatchnikov assault rifles with magazines, six rocket-propelled grenade launchers, maps and handguns.
ATTEMPTS TO HARASS THE IDF
The rising incidence of attacks appears to be aimed at harassing the IDF as it proceeds with the first stage of a three-stage withdrawal from south Lebanon, approved by the Cabinet a week ago. The first stage is a pullback from the Awali River line and Sidon to a new temporary line on the Litani River.
United Nations Undersecretary General Brian Urquhart, meanwhile, is trying to organize an orderly take-over of the Sidon area by troops of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to replace the departing Israelis. He is asking France to deploy its UNIFIL contingent to guard the Palestinian refugee camps in Sidon.
Urquhart was in Tel Aviv Saturday to discuss the matter with the French Ambassador. He left for Paris yesterday to take it up with the French government. The UN official was reported to have approached the French when it became clear from his recent talks in Beirut and Damascus that neither Lebanon nor Syria was about to request the Security Council to extend the operational area of UNIFIL to the regions being evacuated by the IDF. He discussed his plans with the Israeli Foreign Ministry.