Israelis accused of encroaching on Lebanon
An Israeli Kibbutz (collective farm) is reported to have fenced off about 60 acres of southern Lebanese land for its own use, and other serious Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty are occurring daily.
Beirut's prestigious independent daily, An-Nahar, says that the fenced-off land is near the Lebanese village of Adeisseh, and has been taken over by residents of the Israeli border Kibbutz of Misgavam.
The Israelis also are said to have plowed up land and planted trees near two other south Lebanese villages, Aita al-Shaab and Alma al-Shaab.
And United Nations sources report that the Israelis have established a permanent military position for their forces at Rhajar, not far from the northernmost Israeli settlement of Metullah, at a position some 540 yards inside Lebanese territory.
Such apparently long-term measures have caused great concern in those Lebanese circles that have long warned of historical Zionist designs to incorporate land up to the Litani River into the Jewish state. But the acquisitions could at some stage backfire on the Israelis, especially since most of the victims to date are members of southern Lebanon's large Shiite Muslim community.
Shiites in the border strip controlled by the Israeli-backed militias have a stormy relationship with the militias' Christian leaders.
Hundreds of Shiites have joined these militias, but many of them have only done so as a way of placating the dominant force in the region, namely Israel.
With Israel now apparently seizing Shiite lands, the fragile balance in the border strip could again be upset. And internal armed clashes have been reported recently in villages near the United Nations position in Naquora.
But one United Nations official here remained relatively sanguine about the latest reported Israeli encroachments.
"The important issue," he stressed, "is not one little field or military position here or there. It's the whole existence of the border enclave controlled by the militias, and the fact that United Nations forces are not allowed to fulfill their mandate there.
"That is the primary issue to which our attention should be devoted.And if the United Nations rather than the militias were in control of the enclave, then there would be no opportunity for these incursions to occur.
"Even without permanent Israeli posts in the enclave," the official added, "nearly 300 Israeli border violations were reported in the last secretary-general's report. The Israelis come and go there as they please."
It is partly in an attempt to deal with such problems that United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim is reported to be trying to reconvene the Israeli-Lebanese Mixed Armistice Commission (ILMAC), which formerly brought Army officers from the two sides together to discuss common border problems.
But now, apparently, Israel is demanding tha ILMAC meetings be held at the level of Army commanders. Or at least the chiefs of staff.
This would have grave implications, for Lebanon is still committed to the resolutions of the Baghdad Arab summit in late 1978, which opposed bilateral dealings with Israel.
Israel's formal game of trying to influence official Lebanese policy continues while Israeli air and sea attacks on Palestinian and leftist positions in Lebanon are almost nightly events. But a more sinister Israeli hand is seen behind some of the increased unrest throughout the country.
Several enormous car bombs have exploded here recently in locations with a heavy concentration of Palestinian or Syrian population. At least two of the explosions were "claimed" by a group calling itself "Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners."
This front had not been heard of previously. But its nomenclature and means of action seem to indicate the influence of some Israeli extremist groups, such as those considered the most likely perpetrators of recent car-bomb attacks against municipal leaders in the occupied territories.
One embittered Palestinian scholar has compared the current wave of car bombs here to the terror-bombings launched against Palestinian villages by Mr. Begin's own Irgun extremist group on the eve of the 1948 Arab-Jewish war.
"Then, the aim was to drive us out of Palestine," he said, "and they largely succeeded. Now they want to drive us out of Lebanon. Where can we go? The Israelis are going mad, but this time round, the world cannot support their terror. Or can it?"