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14 Wounded Rescued by Red Cross Before Truce at Palestinian Camp Fails

May 28, 1985|From Times Wire Services

BEIRUT — As sporadic fighting continued at Beirut's three shattered Palestinian refugee camps Monday, an International Red Cross team rescued 14 wounded Palestinians from the Borj el Brajne camp but raced out under fire 30 minutes later when a cease-fire broke down.

Palestinian spokesmen issued a statement saying that fighters of Amal, the main Shia Muslim militia, stopped ambulances leaving the camp and "beat up some of the wounded at a checkpoint near the Grand Prophet mosque" at the camp entrance.

Reporters and photographers were kept away from the Red Cross vehicles. But from a distance one photographer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, saw militiamen cocking their rifles and pounding on the ambulances with weapons and fists. He could not tell if any of the wounded were assaulted.

'They Beat Them Up'

A Lebanese gunman present at the scene later told Associated Press: "Yes. It's true. They beat them up. I can say no more."

Scores of wounded had to be left behind at the camp for a second day.

In Tunis, meanwhile, Palestinian Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat and other senior PLO officials charged that the Shia militiamen and their allies have slain scores of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra camp and elsewhere in West Beirut.

Arafat told Reuters news agency that Amal militiamen and Lebanese army soldiers had "entered a part of Sabra . . . and they killed 60 of our people, including women and children."

The truce called by Shias and Palestinian guerrillas to aid the Red Cross mercy mission lasted only long enough for six ambulances out of a 17-vehicle convoy to get into the shell-battered camp.

The Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatilla, in the mainly Muslim West Beirut area, along with Borj el Brajne, were besieged by Amal and Lebanese army troops May 19. The Shias want to prevent the Palestinians from rebuilding the power base in Beirut that was destroyed in the 1982 Israeli invasion.

8 Killed, 35 Wounded

Police said eight people were killed and 35 wounded Monday in the camps, raising the known toll to 369 dead and 1,693 wounded in the eight-day war for the refugee camps.

Sophie Martin, chief delegate of the International Red Cross in Beirut, said the team at Borj el Brajne brought out 14 Palestinians on Monday. The evacuees were bound for hospitals in the Shouf mountains east of the capital, which are controlled by the Druze sect, an offshoot of Islam. Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt arranged Monday's brief cease-fire.

The Red Cross chief said the rescue operation, the second in two days, was abandoned because "there were some security problems." She said another attempt will be made today to rescue "hundreds of civilians, including wounded" trapped in Borj el Brajne's Haifa Hospital.

Palestinian sources have said there were about 250 wounded lying in the camp on Beirut's southern outskirts. They said many of their casualties bled to death in the camps because of the lack of medical facilities and medicine.

Fighting Eases at Camps

The battles around the three camps eased Monday. The heaviest fighting was around Sabra, where a handful of Palestinians have fought off repeated Shia attacks.

There were reports that Syria might send its army to end the fighting by disarming encircled Palestinians and separating warring Christian and Muslim militias in central Beirut.

The reports said that Syrian intervention could only come after Israel completes its troop withdrawal from Lebanon, expected by next week. Radio stations said this possibility was strengthened by the failure of Arab diplomatic mediation to end the war of the camps.

The leftist Beirut newspaper As Safir said Monday that a Syrian proposal calls for a cease-fire in and around the three camps and for government police and the Lebanese army's predominantly Shia 6th Brigade to take over security.

They would also oversee the surrender of guerrilla weapons to Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party militia--which has remained neutral in the fighting--and the withdrawal of Shia militiamen from the camps.

Up to 25,000 Palestinians have fled the camps and homes elsewhere in the city.

'Now I Must Go'

"I've lived here 40 years but now I must go," a 67-year-old candy seller in Sabra said as he loaded his belongings into a car outside an apartment building, scarred by bullets and shells.

"The Lebanese and Palestinians cannot live together after this. It's all finished between us."

Meanwhile, the Israeli army killed 10 guerrillas who tried to infiltrate its self-declared security zone in southern Lebanon, Israel state radio said.

In another incident, four Israeli soldiers were slightly wounded by a roadside bomb explosion near the village of Majdel Selm, according to a military spokesman.

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