Last Israeli Army Units Leave Lebanon, 4 Days After Target Date; Some Officers Stay As Advisors

The last units of the Israel Defense Force were pulled out of Lebanon today, Israel Radio reported this afternoon. The units crossed the international border during the day, ending Israel’s three year presence in Lebanon which began with the IDF invasion on June 6, 1982.

It had been generally believed here that last Thursday, June 6, the third anniversary of the invasion, saw the last IDF soldiers leave Lebanon, save for a small cadre of officers who will serve as liaison and advisers to the Israel-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA) in the security belt which parallels the Israel border.

That, in fact, had been the target date. But neither the government nor the IDF made any official announcement. It was learned today however that an undisclosed, though reportedly small, number of Israeli soldiers have been active in Lebanon over the weekend. Yesterday they destroyed eight houses said to belong to hostile guerrillas. This morning they were searching for the site where two Katyusha rockets were fired into western Galilee yesterday from inside the security belt. They caused no casualties or damage.

Seven of the houses destroyed by the IDF yesterday were in Einata village and one was in the nearby township of Bint Jbail. Their owners and occupants are believed to have been responsible for recent attacks on IDF and SLA units.

The IDF also rounded up 30 residents of Ya’atron village and expelled them from the security zone. The expellees are relatives of 28 Shiite soldiers who deserted from the SLA earlier this month and defected to Amal, the Shiite militia.

UN COMMITTEE BEGINS WORK

Meanwhile, the committee appointed by United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to investigate the detention by the SLA of 20 Finnish soldiers attached to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), began its task today. The committee chairman, UNIFIL Deputy Commander Gen. Jean Fonse of France, visited the SLA-held village of Kantara and talked to the Finnish soldiers.

At the same time, the Foreign Minister of Finland has requested a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, presently in Copenhagen, to discuss the incident. Israel is involved because of its relationship with the SLA. The Finnish soldiers were seized by the SLA for allegedly disarming II SLA soldiers and handing them over to Amal which holds them prisoner.

Shamir is expected to meet with his Finnish counterpart in Copenhagen or in Helsinki. The Finnish capital is not on his itinerary.

Meanwhile, Israel has barred local and American journalists from entering Lebanon from Israeli territory on grounds that their safety cannot be guaranteed. The journalists have been reporting on Israeli activities in south Lebanon and the SLA-UNIFIL confrontation.

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