TEL AVIV (Feb. 19)
The last Jewish family to reside in the south Lebanon port town of Sidon left with the withdrawing Israel Defense Force and arrived in Israel yesterday. The Levi family consists of a widowed mother, Yaffa, her four children aged 17 – 25, and an aunt. Her husband died eight years ago.
The Jews of Sidon began to leave as long ago as the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. Most of the remaining Jews left when the Lebanese civil war began in 1975.
The IDF liaison unit helped the Levis sell some of their property, including a citrus grove. It also helped sell the property of other Jewish families who left in recent months, including shops.
The Levi family told their neighbors they were going to Brazil but had to travel via Israel because of the dangers of travelling via Beirut. They were issued Israeli immigrant certificates when they arrived at the Nakura border post.
LEFT JUST BEFORE SHIITE RIOTING BEGAN
They left Sidon just before the Shiite extremists began rioting in the town in the wake of the IDF’s departure. Thousands of Shiite fundamentalists, followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, poured through the streets of Sidon, ripping down posters of President Amin Gemayal 24 hours after the Maronite Christian President was given a hero’s welcome there. The rioters demanded his ouster and the establishment of a Moslem state in Lebanon to replace the traditional multi-confessional republic.
Lebanese army troops who took over the town after the Israelis left on Saturday were reported to be powerless to establish order. At one army post outnumbered Lebanese soldiers tried to stop demonstrators who surrounded them and tore down Lebanon’s national flag. Soldiers retrieved the flag but the demonstrators again tore it down.
The Shiite extremists, reported to number 12,000, surged through the streets storming into shops and smashing bottles of liquor. Alcoholic beverages are forbidden by the Moslem faith. They chanted, “God is great. We want a Moslem city and an Islamic Republic. Where was the army when the Israelis were here?”