KUWAIT — Palestinian guerrillas who raided the Israeli coast last week planned to attack army officers at a swimming resort, the guerrillas' leader said in remarks published Sunday.
"The main objective of the operation was a resort for senior Israeli army officers," Kuwait's Al Siyassah newspaper quoted Abul Abbas, head of the Iraq-based Palestine Liberation Front, as saying.
"Hostage-taking was not part of the operation's program. It was the storming of specific enemy positions . . . including the private camp for officers where they bathe," he added.
Abbas added that more such operations are in the works.
Criticizing a U.S. charge that the guerrillas were terrorists, Abbas asked: "Where are the limits of terrorism in this operation? Where are the civilian casualties?
"The actual fighting was with naval and air enemy forces," he added.
Israel said it killed four gunmen and captured 12 when a speedboat landed near a beach packed with sunbathers outside Tel Aviv. It said there were no Israeli casualties.
Abbas claimed that the Israelis suffered many casualties, "but it is not in their interest to disclose this." He said that planning for the raid took two years and cost $3 million.
He said the United States, which gives military and other aid to Israel, was as much an enemy of the Palestinian people as the Jewish state.
"This operation is the beginning of our combat efforts against the Israeli enemy, in order to match the upgrading of Arab awareness," the hard-line leader was quoted as saying.
U.S. Administration sources said the attack and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat's reaction to it have jeopardized Washington's dialogue with the PLO, begun in December, 1988, after Arafat renounced terrorism.
Arafat has said the PLO was not involved in the raid, but he did not directly condemn it. The Palestine Liberation Front is a faction of the PLO.