Israeli jets and helicopters pounded Palestinian and pro-Iranian militia bases in Lebanon on Friday in apparent retaliation for a deadly car-bomb attack on an Israeli jeep convoy, and Shia Muslim extremists threatened to harm two American hostages in retaliation.
Several ammunition dumps and a Palestine Liberation Organization training camp in Sidon were hit in a wave of attacks by a dozen Israeli warplanes, including six U.S.-made F-16 jets. At least 15 people were killed and 35 were wounded.
Hours later, typewritten statements signed by Islamic Jihad, the pro-Iranian group believed holding Associated Press correspondent Terry A. Anderson and educator Thomas A. Sutherland, were delivered to the offices of a Western news agency and an independent newspaper in Beirut. A Polaroid photo of a haggard and bearded Anderson, 40, accompanied the statement received by the news agency.
“Committing this stupidity and this attack shall not pass without a punishment,” the identical statements, written in Arabic, declared.
Blaming the United States for the raids, it added, “The criminal America must realize it will not get away with what it has done, especially in connection with the hostages we hold, so that will be a lesson to whoever strikes at the dignity and glory of our people and moujahedeen (resistance fighters).”
Anderson, 40, has been held hostage since March, 1985, while Sutherland, the 57-year-old acting dean of agriculture at American University of Beirut, was abducted three months later.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Charles Redman said: “We deplore the loss of life and the needless suffering of people on both sides, Lebanese and Israeli alike. We remain deeply concerned about the tragic pattern of action and reaction in Lebanon.”
At least one of the ammunition dumps destroyed Friday purportedly supplied members of the Hezbollah, or Party of God, the main force behind the Islamic Resistance Movement, a pro-Iranian guerrilla group that took responsibility for the car bombing Wednesday, in which seven Israeli soldiers died.
Israeli planes also attacked targets in the Ein el Hilwa Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon and reputed Hezbollah bases in Mashgharah in the eastern Bekaa Valley, according to Lebanese radio reports.
Smoke From Raids
Columns of smoke from the smoldering ammunition dumps in both Sidon and Mashgharah could be seen for miles following the raids, Israeli army spokesmen said. Helicopter gunships also attacked the village of Al Luwayzeh near the Lebanese border, the Israelis added. There was no explanation for the attack, but reports circulated that the bomb used in the suicide attack Wednesday may have been put together at the village.
Five Shia Muslim suspects have been detained by Israeli authorities in Lebanon on charges of preparing the bomb, Israel Radio reported. The Islamic Resistance Movement had described the car bombing as a “gift” to the 10-month Arab uprising against Israel in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel customarily has retaliated in force following such harm to its own soldiers or civilians. The bomber Wednesday drove a car into the midst of the jeep convoy just across the border from the Israeli town of Metulla and detonated hundreds of pounds of explosives.
The attack occurred within a security zone that Israel operates with the help of an allied Arab militia called the South Lebanese Army. Control of the zone is meant to deter guerrilla assaults on Israel itself.
Although the Islamic Resistance Movement claimed the car bombing as its own, Israel contends that the PLO cooperates with such groups, thus justifying the assault Friday on PLO positions.