SIDON, Lebanon — Three Lebanese civilians were reported killed and 13 injured Wednesday after Israeli warplanes attacked a Palestinian arms depot on the edge of this city, apparently in response to an attempt by Palestinian guerrillas to land on the Israeli coast.
The attack also destroyed more than 90 shops in an industrial district on the edge of this port city.
Shortly before the raid, an Israeli gunboat intercepted a rubber dinghy carrying Palestinian guerrillas on a mission to attack Israel, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.
It was Israel's eighth air raid in Lebanon this year. Israeli officials said it was not linked to Saturday's terrorist killing of 21 Jews in a synagogue in Istanbul, Turkey. Israel has vowed to avenge that attack. Turkish officials have said they do not know who was responsible but reported that the two terrorists, who blew themselves up with their own grenades, were believed to be Arabs.
Were Ammo Dumps Hit?
The Israeli command in Tel Aviv said the pilots who carried out the Sidon raid reported accurate hits on a warehouse used by the Popular Struggle Front to store weapons.
But police and witnesses in Sidon said Israeli rockets missed the front's two ammunition depots.
"It would have been a disaster if the ammunition dump blew up," a police spokesman said on condition of anonymity.
Another guerrilla group, the Palestine Liberation Front, issued a communique saying the raid came after four of its fighters tried to carry out a seaborne attack on the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya.
Both the Palestinians and Israelis said that one of the four guerrillas was wounded during an exchange of gunfire at sea, and the Palestinians said he died later on shore.
Gunboat Intercepts Dinghy
The Palestine Liberation Front said an Israeli gunboat intercepted the guerrillas' rubber dinghy off the southern Lebanese town of Sarafand, about 25 miles north of Israel.
In Tel Aviv, an Israeli military official confirmed the infiltration attempt and shoot-out. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the air raid was in retaliation for the attempted guerrilla attack.
A Palestine Liberation Front source said that after the gunboat intercepted the dinghy, the Israelis "called in helicopter gunships, which dropped flares all over Sidon and Sarafand. Our guerrillas then came under fire from the gunboat. They fired back and changed course to return to Sarafand."
Sidon police said the Israeli jets swooped in from the Mediterranean and struck three times at the ammunition depots and other Palestinian targets in the industrial district.
2 Sisters Among Dead
Hospitals said that two sisters, aged 32 and 40, and a 16-year-old boy were killed. All were civilians, the hospitals said.
Sources in Sidon, southern Lebanon's provincial capital 37 miles north of the Israeli border, estimated the damage at more than $280,000. Power lines dangled across the rubble-strewn streets.
On July 10, there was another Palestinian attempt to infiltrate Nahariya from the sea, but the four guerrillas were killed in a shoot-out with Israeli troops at the border. Two Israeli soldiers also were killed and nine were wounded.
In a separate attack, several rockets were fired Tuesday night from southern Lebanon into northern Israel, Israel radio said. Israeli military sources said the rockets damaged several buildings and an electric line in the Arab Druze village of Hurfeish. The radio said several people were suffering from shock.