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Israelis Debate Policy on Lebanon as They Bury Latest Bomb Victims

March 12, 1985|DAN FISHER | Times Staff Writer

JERUSALEM — Israel buried the 12 latest Israeli victims of its war in Lebanon on Monday as a debate raged between those who cite the deaths as reason to speed the military withdrawal and those who call for an even tougher response to guerrilla resistance to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon.

"Your blood and the blood of your friends are crying to us to . . . strike the murderers wherever they are," said Chaim Druckman, a member of Parliament from the rightist Morasha (Heritage) Party, in a eulogy for Staff Sgt. Chaim Avner, one of the victims of Sunday's suicide truck bombing.

However, six other members of the Knesset, Israel's Parliament, submitted motions Monday calling for an immediate troop withdrawal from Lebanon.

"It is obvious that so long as the Israeli army occupies Lebanese land, it is a target for such ghastly attacks," said lawmaker Victor Shemtov of the Sunday incident, in which a suicide bomber in a small truck loaded with explosives rammed an Israeli troop convoy just north of the Lebanese border.

"We have become part of the Lebanese hell . . . ," Shemtov added. "There is no justification, militarily or politically, for remaining in Lebanon."

Given the delicate balance between right and left in Israel's national-unity government, few here expect the debate to bring any major change in the three-stage withdrawal plan approved by the Israeli Cabinet on Jan. 14. The withdrawal has reached the second stage, with the details of the final pullback to the international border yet to be approved.

"Terrorism will not dictate the defense policy of Israel," pledged Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who heads the Labor Party half of the coalition government. "Israel will not relent in its war against terror and will strike at its perpetrators."

Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who leads the right-wing Likud bloc in the coalition, condemned the bombing as a "sick, totally irrational attack," but then added, "Such attacks should not influence the Israel government's moves."

The Israeli soldiers were buried in 11 different towns and cities. The Jerusalem ceremony for Avner, a 27-year-old reservist, was typical. The son of Holocaust survivors from Czechoslovakia, Avner was driving the troop transport struck by the truck bomber on Sunday.

He was buried at Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl military cemetery.

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