It's Sunday (July 7), one week after a schoolyard scene in South Beirut. I've just finished reading the Letters to The Times. Every letter tends toward a black-and-white problem or answer when there is so vast a gray area.
First, a man who boarded the 727 during the second landing at Beirut, eloquent with fluid English, stated he was "the boss." His group had no orders from anyone. They are a part of "Jihad," holy war. They were prepared to die to accomplish their end. He saw no distinction between Israel and the U.S. government--"same thing," he said.
In reply to Mitzi S. Matus' letter, the sailor was beaten, first to get a message to airport ground people that they were desperate. He was killed when a demand for fuel was not being met. Second, he was chosen because he was a serviceman and therefore representative of U.S. government. They consistently separated people from government.
In reply to Bernard Bloom, the 760-odd Lebanese held in Alit have never had charges filed against them or else the release, already started, would not have taken place except for Israeli law, which required filing of charges or release by July 3. My Webster's defines hostage as "a person kept or given as a pledge for the fulfillment of certain agreement." Radio Israel consistently stated that these people would be released when certain Israeli border conditions where achieved, i.e. hostages held to prevent attacks.