TEL AVIV (Oct. 6)
Defense Minister Ariel Sharon has been accused of uttering “public lies” by the military affairs correspondent for Israel’s State-owned television. He is also under fire from members of a crack paratroop reservist brigade who say he slandered them and demand an apology.
The slander charge stems from a remark attributed to Sharon during the war in Lebanon that he had to keep the brigade out of action because of “morale problems arising from internal opposition to the war.” The members of the brigade, which has not been identified, say they were in fact called twice during the war. In a 25-day period at the early stages they suffered II men dead and about 70 wounded in fighting in Tyre, Sidon and along the Lebanese coast.
After a brief release from service they were called up again and participated for 21 days in the siege of Beirut, the soldiers say. Their commander informed the Chief of Staff that his men would obey orders to fight in the city, but with serious reservations that such battle was justified.
NO APOLOGY FORTHCOMING
Sharon’s spokesman said yesterday that the Defense Minister would not apologize. But he amended Sharon’s earlier remarks. According to the spokesman, Sharon said he had “at one time” hesitated to call up the brigade in question and did not “mobilize the brigade at the time.” But the soldiers are not satisfied and insist on an apology.
The TV military correspondent said yesterday that Sharon’s explanation was “the latest in four recent public lies uttered by the Defense Minister.” According to the correspondent, Sharon had lied when he told Italian journalist Oriana Falacci in an interview that he had recently spoken by phone to former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger immediately denied that statement and Sharon subsequently admitted to “an error.”
According to the correspondent, Sharon also lied about the chronology of events before and during the massacre of Palestinians in west Beirut last month and when he implied, in the course, of a Knesset speech, that Israeli officers were involved at least as by standers in the massacre of Palestinians by Lebanese Christians of Tel E-Zaatar in 1976 when Shimon Peres, now leader of the opposition Labor Alignment, was Israel’s Defense Minister.