JERUSALEM (Mar. 11)
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said today that the suicide truck bombing that took the lives of 12 Israeli soldiers and wounded 14 in south Lebanon yesterday would not precipitate the Israel Defense Force into speeding up its phased withdrawal from Lebanon.
The IDF will continue to withdraw from south Lebanon in an orderly fashion while maintaining a security belt to protect Israel’s northern border settlements, Rabin said.
Several Likud Knesset members insisted today that Israel maintain a permanent security belt in south Lebanon, beyond the international border, as suggested recently by Gen. (res.) Yehoshua Saguy, former chief of military intelligence.
MKS URGE IMMEDIATE PULLOUT
But six other MKs presented urgent agenda motions today calling for an immediate pull-out of of the IDF from Lebanon instead of the gradual three stage withdrawal presently underway. The first stage was completed on February 16. The second stage, begun last week, is now in progress. The third and final stage, which as originally envisaged would bring the IDF to the international border, is not expected to be completed until some time next summer.
Amnon Rubinstein, of the Shinui faction suggested that the second and third stages be completed in succession, without pausing for Cabinet review and approval. The MKs who called for an immediate, total pull-out are Haika Grossman and Victor Shem-Tov of Mapam; Shulamit Aloni of the Citizens Rights Movement (CRM); Mordechai Virshubsky of Shinui; Meir Wilner of the Hadash Communist Party; and Gen.(res.) Matityahu Peled of the Progressive Movement for Peace.
Meanwhile, President Chaim Herzog, who sent condolences today to the families of the 12 fallen soldiers (see separate story) lashed out at mindless terrorism.
“We are witnessing a terrifying phenomenon which threatens the peace of the world, ” he said. “This new terrorist dimension, based on extreme religious fanaticism, augers ill for civilized society. This expression of bitter, uncompromising and inhuman hatred, bereft of all reason, has already caused casualties to the citizens of other nations, and the civilized world must awake to the realities and mobilize to face this danger and eradicate it, ” Herzog said.
He was referring to the extremist elements of the Shiite Moslem community in south Lebanon, believed to be influenced by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran. A minority among the Shiites, they are held responsible for most of the attacks on IDF units.
SHIITES NOT ENEMY
Herzog stressed that Israel has never been and is not now an enemy of the Shia sect in Lebanon. “Israel had nothing to do with the cruel and murderous events which have taken place lately in Lebanon,” he said. He was referring to last Friday’s car-bomb attack on an apartment house in a Shiite suburb of Beirut which killed at least 75 persons. The immediate reaction of the Shiite population was to blame Israel and the United States.
Israel’s sole purpose, Herzog declared, is to secure the lives of its citizens “and we shall continue with determination to do everything compatible with our civilized principles in order to remove any threat to our borders and eliminate any hand raised to strike us. That is our sole purpose.”