TEL AVIV (Feb. 24)
Nine Shiite guerrillas were killed and some local residents were wounded during Israel Defense Force and South Lebanon Army (SLA) searches of Shiite Moslem villages in south Lebanon over the weekend. An undisclosed number of villagers were detained for further questioning.
As the searches of the villages east of Tyre continued, 10 attacks against IDF and SLA units were reported, including two attacks against SLA units this morning, but there were no casualties.
In the village of Dir Arabiye, 10 men tried to escape during the search. Eight of them were killed by IDF fire and two were wounded and captured. Rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and antitank missiles were reportedly found in the village, as well as two cars containing explosives, which were blown up by IDF sappers. A number of villagers were detained for further questioning.
In Burj Rahal, the scene of searches and arrests last week, one guerrilla was killed and several buildings were demolished by the IDF. Searches were also conducted in Kefar Tura, where arms were found.
The weekend attacks on IDF and SLA units included RPGs and light arms fire in the villages of Bidyas, Hasbaya el-Ein and Hamus. The body of an unidentified man was found beside a roadside bomb near Bidyas.
In today’s attacks, fire from a speeding car was directed at an SLA roadblock in Tyre, and automatic fire was directed at an SLA patrol near Hasbaya.
NEED TO MAINTAIN IDF MORALITY
In weekend Israel Radio interviews former Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan and Col. (Res.) Meir Pail, a leftwing military historian and former Knesset member, both of whom are at opposite ends of the political spectrum and almost invariably disagree on any issue, were in rare agreement on the need to maintain the morality of the IDF.
They were commenting on soldiers’ statements on radio and television reports that the IDF should take tougher action, even against women and children, to protect themselves “as this is the only language the Lebanese know.” The soldiers complained that guerrillas and terrorists in Lebanon frequently use women and children as screens to protect themselves from IDF units. They said the SLA shot at women and children, and “maybe in Lebanon we have to do as the Lebanese do.”
Pail said that revenge was a natural response when soldiers were killed and injured, “but we should use our brains, not our instincts.” He said that Soviet and Syrian tactics against rebels and opponents, aside from their moral reprehensibility, are simply inefficient and don’t get results.
Eitan agreed that destroying villages does not solve the problem. He noted that in the past, he ordered home IDF planes which were on attack missions when they did not have a military target and wanted to hit “anything.”
In another radio interview, Shlomo Ilya, head of the IDF liaison unit in south Lebanon, said the only weapon against terrorism was terrorism, and that Israel had options beyond those already used for “speaking the language the terrorists understood.” He did not specify the nature of the options.
JUSTIFIES STEPS AGAINST ATTACKS ON THE IDF
Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir told reporters during a visit to wounded soldiers in Rambam Hospital in Haifa that the steps taken by the IDF in Lebanon to prevent attacks on its units were justified. “We must do everything we can to stop the attacks, or at least to reduce them to a minimum” he said. He added that the IDF, under the present conditions of withdrawal, was being forced to defend itself with all means at its disposal.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet today head reports by Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and heads of the security establishment regarding the situation in south Lebanon, but made no decisions. However, the Cabinet is expected to discuss at its next meeting next Sunday proposals to speed up the IDF withdrawal from Lebanon.
As the Cabinet was in session, a group called Parents Against Silence staged a quiet protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office demanding that the IDF withdrawal be speeded up. The group, a non-political organization which has been active in recent months demanding an Israeli pull-out from Lebanon, argued that the rise in the number of attacks against IDF soldiers in Lebanon was a result of the decision to withdraw in stages. The demonstration was joined by members of the Citizen Rights Movement. At the same time, Mapam MK Chaika Grossman urged the government to beware of the way it treats the Shiites in southern Lebanon. She warned that the tough measures exercised in the last few days against the Shiite villages suspected of terrorism could lead the entire Shiite community to a deep, irreversible hatred of Israel. She, too, urged the government to speed up the withdrawal process.