WASHINGTON (Jun. 22)
The State Department criticized Israel sharply today for what it called Israel’s “attack” on Lebanon yesterday. Reading from a prepared statement, Department spokesman Charles Bray said,”We deeply regret the loss of life in Israel’s attack on Lebanon June 21. It is particularly tragic when innocent civilians become the victim of events growing out of the continued Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Asked why they did not react to the report of attacks on Israel from Lebanon earlier this week, State Department sources said Lebanon had contended that the attack was not from Lebanon and that the terrorist group responsible, the Palestine Liberation Organization, was from Syria. The State Department sources explained, in reply to another question, that there was no comment on the presence of high ranking Syrian military officers who were captured by the Israelis in Lebanon on grounds that one can anticipate that the Arab governments exchange observers. The sources added that it was a “mystery” what the Syrian officers were doing in Lebanon.
Israel reported yesterday that its planes and artillery attacked terrorist concentrations in the “Fatahland” region of southeastern Lebanon in the wake of a recent upsurge of terrorist activity there. Two Israeli civilians were injured in a bazooka attack on a tourist bus Tuesday and four Israeli soldiers were wounded, two by a land mine and two by sniper fire since Monday. There were no reports of any civilian casualties in Lebanon.