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Israeli Aircraft Blast Refugee Camp After Clash in S. Lebanon

July 10, 1986|From Associated Press

Four Israeli helicopter gunships today rocketed a Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, hours after two Israeli soldiers and four Arab guerrillas were killed in a clash in southern Lebanon, Lebanese police reported.

At least four people died in the refugee camp raid, a hospital source said, and several were wounded.

Israel's military command confirmed the raid but said planes, not helicopters, were involved. It said the targets were several buildings in the Ein el Hilwa refugee camp on Sidon's southern edge.

Israeli military sources claimed the buildings were used as command centers by various Palestinian groups, including the mainstream Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the pro-Syrian Abu Moussa group, the Popular Struggle Front and the Syrian-based Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Police said a guerrilla ammunition dump was hit and burst into a huge ball of flame as rocket barrages shook the camp just before sundown.

Guerrillas in Dinghy

The attack in Sidon, a port city 25 miles south of Beirut, came 17 hours after Israeli soldiers fought a two-hour gun battle with Arab guerrillas who landed in south Lebanon in a rubber dinghy.

Besides the two Israeli soldiers and four guerrillas killed, Israel's military command said nine other Israelis were wounded.

The battle began about 2 a.m. when an Israeli navy vessel intercepted a rubber dinghy and forced it to land in southern Lebanon across the border from Rosh Haniqra, a kibbutz on the Mediterranean Sea.

Some guerrillas hid behind a large rock and fired automatic weapons, while others hurled grenades, Israel's armed forces radio reported. Israeli military sources said that helicopters were called in to illuminate the scene and that the guerrillas' boat, weapons and explosives were blown up.

Picture of Che Guevara

Photographers who arrived after dawn saw four guerrillas' bodies sprawled on the white, limestone cliffs, with ammunition clips scattered nearby. The guerrillas were dressed in dark jeans and carried gear on webbed belts.

One wore a T-shirt with the picture of Che Guevara.

An official of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party in Lebanon said that seven guerrillas were aboard the vessel and that three escaped to Sidon.

The Voice of the South, a Lebanese radio station controlled by the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army militia, said the guerrillas were trying to infiltrate near a U.N. camp at Naqoura when they were attacked by the Israeli patrol.

Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said the target of the attack was the civilian population of northern Israel.

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