Palestinian Camps Bombarded as Gemayel, Assad Seek Truce
Shia Muslim gunners bombarded Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut with 155-millimeter howitzers and tank cannon Thursday but made no attempt to mount an anticipated ground assault.
In Damascus, President Amin Gemayel of Lebanon met with Syrian officials in an effort to work out a truce to halt the 11-day-old battle for the besieged camps. Lebanese government sources said that Gemayel and President Hafez Assad met for the fourth time in 24 hours, but results of the talks were kept secret.
In New York, the U.N. Security Council, acting on a request by Egypt, called an urgent meeting to discuss the fighting despite the opposition of the Lebanese government, United Press International reported.
Lebanese Ambassador Rashid Fakhoury said, “We are totally opposed to a Security Council meeting on this question. It is an internal matter. A Security Council meeting would jeopardize efforts to resolve our own problems ourselves.”
The Shia gunners Thursday lay down a two-hour barrage on the embattled camps of Sabra, Chatilla and Borj el Brajne. Despite Palestinian claims that the Shia forces were massing for “a final assault,” no ground attacks were made.
There was no precise report on the full extent of new casualties in the ramshackle, battle-weary camps, where hundreds of wounded guerrillas and civilians have been virtually without medical aid for days.
106 More Casualties
Police said at least 14 people have been killed and 92 wounded since Wednesday night. Those figures raised the known casualty toll since May 19 to at least 422 dead and 1,894 wounded.
Palestinian forces in the hills east of Beirut retaliated for the Shia barrage with fire from Soviet-made rockets and long-range artillery on several Shia neighborhoods around the camps.
One shell exploded near the sandbagged home of Justice Minister Nabih Berri, leader of the Shia Amal militia. Police said one man was killed and two were wounded. It was not known if Berri was at home at the time.
The Shia militia first attacked the camps in an effort to prevent them from again becoming a stronghold of Palestinian guerrillas. There have been reports that hundreds of theguerrillas have filtered back into the camps since they were driven out by Israeli troops during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
Palestinian spokesmen in Beirut said that any proposal for ending the fighting around the camps based on disarming the guerrillas is non-negotiable.
Lebanese newspapers have reported that a cease-fire deal for the camps is likely to emerge from the Damascus talks. They said the main points are expected to include disarming the Palestinians, Amal pulling back 500 yards from the camp perimeters and setting up Lebanese police stations in the camps with troops guarding the entrances.