Israelis Bomb Palestinian Bases Near Refugee Camps

Associated Press

Israeli warplanes streaked through a barrage of ground fire today and bombed Palestinian guerrilla strongholds near refugee camps around this southern port.

It was the third Israeli air raid this year on the Sidon area, where guerrillas have been rebuilding bases destroyed by Israel’s 1982 invasion.

Police said five Palestinians and a 21-year-old Lebanese woman were injured. A 10-year-old boy suffered a serious head wound, they said.

State-run Beirut radio said two people were killed and 22 wounded in the 45-minute air strike on bases near the teeming Ein el Hilwa and Mieh-Mieh refugee camps, and at the hilltop village of Siroubieh. There was no confirmation of the radio report.

A guerrilla spokesman said there were no casualties among Palestinian fighters because they evacuated most of the military centers after the last Israeli air strike March 27, which killed 10 people and wounded 22.

Sidon, the provincial capital of south Lebanon, is 25 miles south of Beirut.

“Tell Ariel Sharon there were no losses in lives!” guerrilla Mohammed Faris shouted to reporters who approached Mieh-Mieh after the raid. Sharon was Israel’s defense minister in 1982 and planned the invasion.

At least one 10-plane formation carried out seven dive-bombing attacks. Six planes provided top cover while the other four hit the camps, witnesses said.

The Israeli jets swooped in from the sea through machine-gun and missile fire at 11:45 a.m., releasing hot-air balloons to deflect the heat-seeking missiles.

Israel’s military command said all planes returned safely. It said the pilots reported accurate hits on a communications center and several buildings used by guerrillas planning attacks on Israel’s border.

Targets included four bases of PLO chief Yasser Arafat’s mainstream Fatah guerrilla faction and two used by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist group led by George Habash.