TEL AVIV (Feb. 28)
The Israel Defense Force and the Lebanese regular army exchanged fire briefly in south Lebanon yesterday. The incident, the result of a misunderstanding, was settled by telephone conversations between the local Israeli and Lebanese commanders.
According to military sources, an IDF patrol spotted two men northwest of A-Douer village at noon yesterday. They were carrying Kalachnikov assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades and making for an Israel-controlled area just north of the Litani River. The IDF patrol opened fire.
A Lebanese army post at nearby Kattherert A-Sayyad village, apparently believed the IDF was shooting at them and opened fire on the IDF patrol. An Israeli tank then lobbed a single warning shell in the direction of the Lebanese position and the firing ended. The IDF denied reports from Beirut that it had attempted to send a patrol northwards into Lebanon army controlled territory but was forced to withdraw by Lebanese fire.
SEARCHES OF SHIITE VILLAGES CONTINUE
The IDF, meanwhile, continued its daily searches of Shiite Moslem villages. Military sources said “very large” quantities of arms, ammunition and sabotage material were found at Jibshit, a village east of Tyre known to the base of Shiite extremists influenced by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.
The search yielded Kalachnikov rifles, submachineguns, shoulder-fired missiles, rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, 30 hand grenades, 2,000 electric detonators and large quantities of high explosives.
Two houses in the village were destroyed. The IDF also reported three unsuccessful attacks on its units in the Tyre area yesterday.
ISRAELI CASUALTIES TO DATE
Yesterday marked the one-thousandth day since the IDF invaded Lebanon in June, 1982. According to MK Yossi Sarid of the Citizens Rights Movement (CRM), the IDF’s casualties to date amount to 622 dead and 5,369 soldiers wounded. The latest figure published by the media is 614 dead.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet on Sunday is scheduled to discuss and possibly ratify Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s plans for the second stage IDF withdrawal from south Lebanon, mainly from the eastern sector facing the Syrians.
In outlining his plans today to the “inner Cabinet,” Rabin proposed that no firm dates be fixed for the beginning and the end of the second stage pull-out which, he said, should be undertaken in light of the conditions at the time. But it is generally thought that the IDF will be back on its new line, along the border of the narrow “security zone” some kilometers north of the international border, within eight to 12 weeks.