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Terrorist Rockets Kill Teenager, Injure 23 in Kiryat Shemona and Nahariya As Begin, Habib Confer on

July 20, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

U.S. special envoy Philip Habib, seeking to end the fiercely escalating warfare across the Israeli-Lebanese border, conferred with Premier Menachem Begin and other Israeli leaders as terrorist rockets claimed another life and injured 23 persons in renewed attacks today on Kiryat Shemona and Nahariya.

The latest victim was 16-year-old Shimon Dayan, killed in the streets of Kiryat Shemona as he and his family were leaving on a trip. His mother, Miriam, was severely wounded. Another of the 23 injured in Kiryat Shemona was reported in serious condition. Two women were slightly injured in Nahariya.

The rocket attacks, which wounded nine people in northern Israel Friday and six more yesterday, were launched in the aftermath of a massive Israeli air raid on Palestine Liberation Organization headquarters in Beirut Friday which caused heavy civilian casualties. That raid in turn was Israel’s response to Katyusha rocket attacks last Wednesday which killed three people in Nahariya and wounded 25 there and in Kiryat Shemona.


Habib, whose mission, begun in May, was aimed at persuading Syria to remove the SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles it has placed in Lebanon, which Israel threatens to destroy, was ordered by President Reagan Friday to return to Israel to try to affect a cease-fire over Lebanon. The American diplomat had been in Saudi Arabia, a country the U.S. has enlisted in its efforts to restore peace in Lebanon.

He met with Begin for 75 minutes today, a meeting attended by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Gen. Yehoshua Saguy, chief of military intelligence. He was expected to have a second meeting with Begin later in the day. Habib reportedly demanded that Israel call for an immediate cease-fire in the north but political circles here doubt this is feasible under the present circumstances. (See late story P. 3).

Habib is said to have encountered an angry Begin who strongly justified Israel’s continuing air raids over Lebanon as legitimate self-defense and expressed displeasure over the delay in delivering 10 F-16 fighter planes which the U.S. had bee expected to ship to Israel on Friday.


Four of the aircraft were embargoed by the Reagan Administration after Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor on June 7, an act the U.S. officially condemned. The six others, presumably not affected by the embargo, had been scheduled for shipment Friday. According to reports from Washington, a decision will be made this Tuesday.

Questioned about this as he left for a Western nations’ summit meeting in Ottawa which begins Monday, Reagan would say only that “There’s no decision yet.” Asked about Israel’s mass air raid on Beirut, the President replied, “I don’t think violence is ever helpful to the peace process.” He offered no further comment.

Begin was reportedly irritated with comments attributed to Reagan after the bombing of Beirut that were critical of him personally. He told leaders of the National Religious Party, with which he is trying to form a coalition government, that he couldn’t understand the President’s complaint. “If President Reagan had faced a similar problem to the one we are facing in the north … would he have acted differently?” Begin asked.


At his meeting with Begin and his aides today, Habib reportedly was told that Syria was the key to the terrorist attacks on Israel from Lebanon and was urged to convey the message to Damascus that Israel reserved the right to take whatever action it thought necessary to protect the lives of its citizens and that it was up to Syria to keep the terrorists under firm control. The Israelis also reportedly told Habib that the terrorists were constantly being supplied with more and better weapons from Libya, Syria and the Communist bloc countries.

Israel held all those countries that supplied the terrorists responsible for the attacks on its northern border towns, the American envoy was told. Israel demanded that the Lebanese government end terrorist activity from its territory but recognized that the Beirut government lacked the authority and power and was susceptible to Syrian influence.

According to the Israeli view, it was therefore Syria and the other countries supplying the terrorists with weapons that were responsible for the civilian casualties in Beirut.


Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zipori said in a radio interview yesterday that Israel would welcome diplomatic efforts to restore calm to the Israeli-Lebanese border. But he warned that if the Palestinians continued their shelling of Israeli towns, the Israel army would escalate its counter-measures.

“Even the presence of good friends in the area (an apparent reference to Habib) will not halt Israel army action if the shelling continues or if preparations for further attacks continue,” Zipori said. “We will certainly help the U.S. in its efforts to restore quiet, but we will not sit idly by if the attacks on us continue.”

Meanwhile, former Premier Yitzhak Rabin, a leader of the opposition Labor Party sharply criticized the Begin government’s military policy in Lebanon in an article today in Yediot Achronot. Terrorist operations from Lebanon cannot be stopped by military means, he said.

“Even if the Israeli air force were to operate in Lebanon for a whole month … the terrorists would not cease to act against us. There is no military solution to this problem because there is no intention to occupy Lebanon,” Rabin wrote. He also maintained that passive defense measures against terrorists

were more effective than the preemptive raids that have been the policy of the Begin regime for many months. He suggested that this policy was counter-productive inasmuch as the terrorists have been strengthened militarily despite the raids and, if anything, have rallied more Arab support than they enjoyed originally. “The solution of the terrorist problem is not military but rather political,” Rabin wrote.

Moshe Arens, a Herut hardliner and chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, defended the air raid on Beirut as necessary but agreed with Rabin that there was no effective way to stop the terrorist attacks. He contended that it was difficult to speak of a political solution because the terrorists would never stop fighting Israel. “If they did they would lose their raison d’ etre,” he said on a Kol Israel Radio interview today.

Former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan also appeared to have reservations about Israel’s air raid on Beirut. Nevertheless, he said on a radio interview yesterday that Israel was confronted with the choice of halting the attacks to allow diplomatic efforts to work, knowing that the terrorists would utilize the hiatus to regroup and prepare for future assaults, or to continue the attacks while the former guerrilla forces of the PLO gradually attain the status of an army with their acquisition of tanks and heavy artillery.


A military spokesman said on Friday that the attack on Beirut was aimed at PLO installations throughout the city. The targets included PLO camps and concentrations, among them the Beirut sports stadium. The spokesman said offices of the El Fatah and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine were destroyed. The attack was the first heavy Israeli raid on the Lebanese capital.

It was followed by a special announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office that the terrorists can no longer expect to hide amid civilian population centers in Lebanon. The statement said: “We will not intentionally direct our fire against the civilian population. We shall, however, continue to attack terrorist bases and headquarters, even if they are purposefully located in the vicinity of or within civilian concentrations. Responsibility shall fall on those who seek immunity for themselves by knowingly endangering civilians.”

Zipori said Friday on Israel Radio: “We decided to attack the problem by attacking the head, which is situated in Beirut. And so we attacked the commands of the two well-known organizations of murderers (El Fatah and the Democratic Front). We have decided to attack them whereever they are until they decide to change their ways.”


The attack failed to halt the Katyusha rocket barrages from Lebanon. Seven persons were injured in Nahariya and two in Kiryat Shemona Friday. Residents of Kiryat Shemona recalled Friday that Begin had promised them during his election campaign in May that “No more rockets would fall on Kiryat Shemona.” They complained that the government failed to provide adequate protection for the townspeople before undertaking heavy air raids which they knew would invite terrorist retaliation.

Former Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur said Friday that the government should not have let itself be dragged into a situation it could have avoided. He suggested that efforts should be made through diplomatic channels to get the Syrians to curb the Palestinians.


United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim condemned Israel for the Beirut bombing Friday. He expressed shock and dismay at the “heavy escalation of violence” in the region. His statement was issued following Lebanon’s request for an urgent meeting of the Security Council to discuss the “deteriorating situation in south Lebanon” and Israel’s attacks on civilian targets in Beirut.

The Council met for a few hours Friday and is expected to resume its debate tomorrow. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Yehuda Blum, told the Council that Israel had acted in self-defense to stop the massive buildup by the PLO. He said Israel had “reliable information” that the PLO was planning to “step up its operations against Israel.” He also drew attention to the “indiscriminate shelling of civilian centers in the north of Israel on July 15 and 16 by PLO terrorists operating from Lebanon” during which three Israelis were killed and 25 were wounded.

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