Latest News

URGENT APPEAL FOR FUNDS TO KEEP US ONLINE

Your financial support what ever amount helps us sustain our activities as well as grow!





Wednesday, September 19

The Enemy: Israelis Fired at US Marines in Lebanon 1982-83
- 0

Peace by Piece.
In 1977- Nahum Goldmann, founder and president of the World Jewish Congress and a president of  WZO said:
Israel has never presented the Arabs with a single peace plan. She's rejected every settlement plan devised by her friends &  by her enemies. She has seemingly no other object than to preserve the status quo while adding territory piece by piece.

-------- Original Message --------


Because the US is far more significantly tied to israel in so many ways (politically, economically, strategically, ) than  ever before in our history, & because there is So much at stake in the m/e  -- it is essential for citizens to have a much deeper comprehension of  the ways the US has gotten so deeply enmeshed with  israel.  for that reason i urge you to read the following articles and to share them widely with everyone you know./,msa

THE ENEMY OF THE US: ISRAELIS FIRED WEAPONS AT US MARINES IN LEBANON 1982-83



Bombing of Marine barracks, Beirut, 1983


Yesterday I put up a post on the 30th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, specifically in regard to conversations held between US and Israeli officials at the time that are only just now, 30 years later, coming to light. The post quoted from an op-ed piece published this past Sunday in the New York Times, the writer of which was able to obtain a number of revealing documents, including a transcript of a meeting held in Israel between US and Israeli officials on September 17, 1982, as the massacre was then in progress. Present at that meeting were Morris Draper, US envoy to the Middle East; then-Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon; and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, among others. The Israelis at the time were aware that the massacre was taking place; the Americans apparently were not, and Sharon and Shamir did not bother to inform them.

The transcript shows that Draper attempted to persuade Sharon to pull his troops from Beirut, but that the latter refused. The author of the piece, Seth Anziska, expresses the view that Draper and the other Americans present were essentially “browbeaten.” Our entanglement with Israel had disastrous repercussions on Americans in Lebanon at the time. On April 18, 1983 the US embassy in Beirut was bombed, with 63 people killed; and on October 23 that same year 241 Marines were killed in a truck bombing at the Marine barracks at Beirut Airport. Presumably these were not false flag attacks, but were carried out by Lebanese, though with what we now know about Israeli involvement in 9/11 and the attack on the USS Liberty, who really is to say? 

What we do know is that Israelis in a number of instances, while our troops were in Lebanon, actually fired weapons at American soldiers. The documents, at least as of this writing, are archived at the NY Times website here. What you see below is one of them, and coincidentally is one of the ones I ran with yesterday’s post. Read what it says about an Israeli Colonel firing a shot at a US Marine guarding the American embassy:
 


After reading our post and viewing the above document, one of our readers, growing curious to know if there had been other incidents of Israeli military firing upon American soldiers in Lebanon, conducted a search and managed to turn up the following article. Written in 1995 by a former Time Magazine bureau chief, the article is preserved today at the extremely informative website If Americans Knew. What it shows is that there was “a systematic pattern of Israeli attacks and provocations” against American troops, including U.S. officers, who were “singled out for ‘near-miss’ shootings, abuse and detention.” We also read of Americans being insulted and cursed by Israeli military personnel. Ironically—even as all this was going on—US troops increasingly came to be viewed by the Lebanese, not as impartial peacekeepers, but as providing military support to Israel in its occupation of Lebanon—an occupation which had taken a horrendous toll on the local population. And as that perception grew, it was Americans who paid with their lives. In fact, thanks to Israel, the entire US peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in the early 80s was a debacle from start to finish.

Yesterday’s post on the Sabra Shatila massacre closed with a paragraph in which I observed that that the Zionist state, far from being America’s ally, is in reality our enemy, and rightfully should be regarded as such. A well-deserved hat tip goes to our friend, msa, who dug up not only this article, but also the one below it regarding Captain Charles Johnson, the US Marine, who, recognizing this fact about Israel back in 1983, drew his gun and climbed up onto an Israeli tank to stop it from advancing.


Israel Charged with Systematic Harassment of U.S. Marines

By Donald Neff
Former Time Magazine Bureau Chief, Israel
Washington Report , March 1995
Also published in Fifty Years of Israel

It was 12 years ago, on March 14, 1983, that the commandant of the Marine Corps sent a highly unusual letter to the secretary of defense expressing frustration and anger at Israel. General R.H. Barrow charged that Israeli troops were deliberately threatening the lives of Marines serving as peacekeepers in Lebanon. There was, he wrote, a systematic pattern of harassment by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that was resulting in “life-threatening situations, replete with verbal degradation of the officers, their uniform and country.”

Barrow’s letter added: “It is inconceivable to me why Americans serving in peacekeeping roles must be harassed, endangered by an ally...It is evident to me, and the opinion of the U.S. commanders afloat and ashore, that the incidents between the Marines and the IDF are timed, orchestrated, and executed for obtuse Israeli political purposes.”1

I srael’s motives were less obtuse than the diplomatic general pretended. It was widely believed then, and now, that Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, one of Israel’s most Machiavellian politician-generals, was creating the incidents deliberately in an effort to convince Washington that the two forces had to coordinate their actions in order to avoid such tensions. This, of course, would have been taken by the Arabs as proof that the Marines were not really in Lebanon as neutral peacekeepers but as allies of the Israelis, a perception that would have obvious advantages for Israel.2

Barrow’s extraordinary letter was indicative of the frustrations and miseries the Marines suffered during their posting to Lebanon starting on Aug. 25, 1982, as a result of Israel’s invasion 11 weeks earlier. Initially a U.S. unit of 800 men was sent to Beirut harbor aspart of a multinational force to monitor the evacuation of PLO guerrillas from Beirut. The Marines, President Reagan announced, “in no case... would stay longer than 30 days.”3 This turned out to be only partly true. They did withdraw on Sept. 10, but a reinforced unit of 1,200 was rushed back 15 days later after the massacres at the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila that accompanied the Israeli seizure of West Beirut. The U.S. forces remained until Feb. 26, 1984.4

During their year-and-a-half posting in Lebanon, the Marines suffered 268 killed.5 The casualties started within a week of the return of the Marines in September 1982. On the 30th, a U.S.-made cluster bomb left behind by the Israelis exploded, killing Corporal David Reagan and wounding three other Marines.6

Corporal Reagan’s death represented the dangers of the new mission of the Marines in Lebanon. While their first brief stay had been to separate Israeli forces from Palestinian fighters evacuating West Beirut, their new mission was as part of a multinational force sent to prevent Israeli troops from attacking the Palestinian civilians left defenseless there after the withdrawal of PLO forces. As President Reagan said: “For this multinational force to succeed, it is essential that Israel withdraw from Beirut.” 7

“Incidents are timed, orchestrated, and executed for Israeli political purposes.”

Israel’s siege of Beirut during the summer of 1982 had been brutal and bloody, reaching a peak of horror on Aug. 12, quickly known as Black Thursday. On that day, Sharon’s forces launched at dawn a massive artillery barrage that lasted for 11 straight hours and was accompanied by saturation air bombardment.8 As many as 500 persons, mainly Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, were killed.9

On top of the bombardment came the massacres the next month at Sabra and Shatila, where Sharon’s troops allowed Lebanese Maronite killers to enter the camps filled with defenseless civilians. The massacres sickened the international community and pressure from Western capitals finally forced Israel to withdraw from Beirut in late September. Troops from Britain, France, Italy and the United States were interposed between the Israeli army and Beirut, with U.S. Marines deployed in the most sensitive area south of Beirut at the International Airport, directly between Israeli troops and West Beirut.

It was at the airport that the Marines would suffer their Calvary over the next year.Starting in January 1983, small Israeli units began probing the Marine lines. At first the effort appeared aimed at discovering the extent of Marine determination to resist penetration. The lines proved solid and the Marines’ determination strong. Israeli troops were politely but firmly turned away. Soon the incidents escalated, with both sides pointing loaded weapons at each other but no firing taking place. Tensions were high enough by late January that a special meeting between U.S. and Israeli officers was held in Beirut to try to agree on precise boundaries beyond which the IDF would not penetrate.10

No Stranger to the Marines

However, on Feb. 2 a unit of three Israeli tanks, led by Israeli Lt. Col. Rafi Landsberg, tried to pass through Marine/Lebanese Army lines at Rayan University Library in south Lebanon. By this time, Landsberg was no stranger to the Marines. Since the beginning of January he had been leading small Israeli units in probes against the Marine lines,although such units would normally have a commander no higher than a sergeant or lieutenant. The suspicion grew that Sharon’s troops were deliberately provoking the Marines and Landsberg was there to see that things did not get out of hand. The Israeli tactics were aimed more at forcing a joint U.S.-Israeli strategy than merely probing lines.

In the Feb. 2 incident, the checkpoint was commanded by Marine Capt. Charles Johnson, who firmly refused permission for Landsberg to advance. When two of the Israeli tanks ignored his warning to halt, Johnson leaped on Landsberg’s tank with pistol drawn and demanded Landsberg and his tanks withdraw. They did.11

Landsberg and the Israeli embassy in Washington tried to laugh off the incident, implying that Johnson was a trigger-happy John Wayne type and that the media were exaggerating a routine event. Landsberg even went so far as to claim that he smelled alcohol on Johnson’s breath and that drunkenness must have clouded his reason. Marines were infuriated because Johnson was well known as a teetotaler. Americans flocked to Johnson’s side. He received hundreds of letters from school children, former Marines and from Commandant Barrow.12 It was a losing battle for the Israelis and Landsberg soon dropped from sight.

But the incidents did not stop. These now included “helicopter harassment,” by which U.S.-made helicopters with glaring spotlights were flown by the Israelis over Marine positions at night, illuminating Marine outposts and exposing them to potential attack. As reports of these incidents piled up, Gen. Barrow received a letter on March 12 from a U.S. Army major stationed in Lebanon with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO). The letter described a systematic pattern of Israeli attacks and provocations against UNTSO troops, including instances in which U.S. officers were singled out for “near-miss” shootings, abuse and detention. 13 That same day two Marine patrols were challenged and cursed by Israeli soldiers.14

Two days later Barrow wrote his letter to Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, who endorsed it and sent it along to the State Department. High-level meetings were arranged and the incidents abated, perhaps largely because by this time Ariel Sharon had been fired as defense minister. He had been found by an Israeli commission to have had “personal responsibility” for the Sabra and Shatila massacres.15

Despite the bad taste left from the clashes with the Israelis, in fact no Marines had been killed in the incidents and their lines had been secure up to the end of winter in 1983. Then Islamic guerrillas, backed by Iran, became active. On the night of April 17, 1983, an unknown sniper fired a shot that went through the trousers of a Marine sentry but did not harm him. For the first time, the Marines returned fire. 16

The next day, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was blown up by a massive bomb, with the loss of 63 lives. Among the 17 Americans killed were CIA Mideast specialists, including Robert C. Ames, the agency’s top Middle East expert. 17 Disaffected former Israeli Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky later claimed that Israel had advance information about the bombing plan but had decided not to inform the United States, a claim denied by Israel.18 The Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. Veteran correspondent John Cooley considered the attack “the day [Iranian leader Ayatollah] Khomeini’s offensive against America in Lebanon began in earnest.”19

Still, it was not until four months later, on Aug. 28, that Marines came under direct fire by rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at International Airport.They returned fire with M-16 rifles and M-60 machine guns. The firefight resumed the next day with Marines firing 155mm artillery, 81mm mortars and rockets from Cobra helicopter gunships against Shi’i Muslim positions. Two Marines were killed and 14 wounded in the exchange, the first casualties in actual combat since the Marines had landed the previous year.20

From this time on, t he combat involvement of the Marines grew. Their actions were generally seen as siding with Israel against Muslims, slowly changing the status of the Marines as neutral peacekeepers to opponents of the Muslims.21 Israel could hardly have wished for more. The polarization meant that increasingly the conflict was being perceived in terms of the U.S., Israel and Lebanon’s Christians against Iran, Islam and Lebanon’s Shi’i Muslims.

Accelerating the Conflict

Israel accelerated the building conflict on Sept. 3, 1983 by unilaterally withdrawing its troops southward, leaving the Marines exposed behind their thin lines at the airport. The United States had asked the Israeli government to delay its withdrawal until the Marines could be replaced by units of the Lebanese army, but Israel refused.22 The result was as feared. Heavy fighting immediately broke out between theChristian Lebanese Forces and the pro-Syrian Druze units, both seeking to occupy positions evacuated by Israel, while the Marines were left in the crossfire.23 On Sept. 5, two Marines were killed and three wounded as fighting escalated between Christian and Muslim militias.24

In an ill-considered effort to subdue the combat, the Sixth Fleet frigate Bowen fired several five-inch naval guns, hitting Druze artillery positions in the Chouf Mountains that were firing into the Marine compound at Beirut airport.25 It was the first time U.S. ships had fired into Lebanon, dramatically raising the level of combat. But the Marines’ exposed location on the flat terrain of the airport left them in an impossible position. On Sept. 12, three more Marines were wounded.26

On Sept. 13, President Reagan authorized what was called aggressive self-defense for the Marines, including air and naval strikes.27 Five days later the United States essentially joined the war against the Muslims when four U.S. warships unleashed the heaviest naval bombardment since Vietnam into Syrian and Druze positions in eastern Lebanon in support of the Lebanese Christians.28 The bombardment lasted for three days and was personally ordered by National Security Council director Robert McFarlane, a Marine Corps officer detailed to the White House who was in Lebanon at the time and was also a strong supporter of Israel and its Lebanese Maronite Christian allies. McFarlane issued the order despite the fact that the Marine commander at the airport, Colonel Timothy Geraghty, strenuously argued against it because, in the words of correspondent Thomas L. Friedman, “he knew that it would make his soldiers party to what was now clearly an intra-Lebanese fight, and that the Lebanese Muslims would not retaliate against the Navy’s ships at sea but against the Marines on shore.”29

By now, the Marines were under daily attack and Muslims were charging they were no longer neutral.30 At the same time the battleship USS New Jersey, with 16-inch guns, arrived off Lebanon, increasing the number of U.S. warships offshore to 14. Similarly, the Marine contingent at Beirut airport was increased from 1,200 to 1,600.31

A Tragic Climax

The fight now was truly joined between the Shi’i Muslims and the Marines, who were essentially pinned down in their airport bunkers and under orders not to take offensive actions. The tragic climax of their predicament came on Oct. 23, when a Muslim guerrilla drove a truck past guards at the Marine airport compound and detonated an explosive with the force of 12,000 pounds of dynamite under a building housing Marines and other U.S. personnel. Almost simultaneously, a car-bomb exploded at the French compound in Beirut. Casualties were 241 Americans and 58 French troops killed. The bombings were the work of Hezbollah, made up of Shi’i Muslim guerrillas supported by Iran.;32

America’s agony increased on Dec. 3, when two carrier planes were downed by Syrian missiles during heavy U.S. air raids on eastern Lebanon.;33 On the same day, eight Marines were killed in fighting with Muslim militiamen around the Beirut airport.;34



By the start of 1984, an all-out Shi’i Muslim campaign to rid Lebanon of all Americans was underway. The highly respected president of the American University of Beirut, Dr. Malcolm Kerr, a distinguished scholar of the Arab world, was gunned down on Jan. 18 outside his office by Islamic militants aligned with Iran.;35 On Feb. 5, Reagan made one of his stand-tall speeches by saying that “the situation in Lebanon is difficult, frustrating and dangerous. But this is no reason to turn our backs on friends and to cut and run.”;36

The next day Professor Frank Regier, a U.S. citizen teaching at AUB, was kidnapped by Muslim radicals.; 37 Regier’s kidnapping was the beginning of a series of kidnappings of Americans in Beirut that would hound  Reagan and later the Bush administrations for years and lead to the eventual expulsion of nearly all Americans from Lebanon where they had prospered for more than a century. Even today Americans still are prohibited from traveling to Lebanon.

The day after Regier’s kidnapping, on Feb. 7, 1984, Reagan suddenly reversed himself and announced that all U.S. Marines would shortly be “redeployed.” The next day the battleship USS New Jersey fired 290 rounds of one-ton shells from its 16-inch guns into Lebanon as a final act of U.S. frustration.; 38 Reagan’s “redeployment” was completed by Feb. 26, when the last of the Marines retreated from Lebanon.

The mission of the Marines had been a humiliating failure not because they failed in their duty but because the political backbone in Washington was lacking. The Marines had arrived in 1982 with all sides welcoming them. They left in 1984 despised by many and the object of attacks by Muslims. Even relations with Israel were strained, if not in Washington where a sympathetic Congress granted increased aid to the Jewish state to compensate it for the costs of its bungled invasion, then between the Marines and Israeli troops who had confronted each other in a realpolitik battlefield that was beyond their competence or understanding. The Marine experience in Lebanon did not contribute toward a favorable impression of Israel among many Americans, especially since the Marines would not have been in Lebanon except for Israel’s unprovoked invasion.

This negative result is perhaps one reason a number of Israelis and their supporters today oppose sending U.S. peacekeepers to the Golan Heights as part of a possible Israeli-Syrian peace treaty. A repeat of the 1982-84 experience would certainly not be in Israel’s interests at a time when its supporters are seeking to have a budget-conscious Congress continue unprecedented amounts of aid to Israel.

RECOMMENDED READING:

  • Ball, George, Error and Betrayal in Lebanon, Washington, DC, Foundation for Middle East Peace, 1984.

  • Cockburn, Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship, New York, Harper Collins, 1991.

  • Cooley, John K., Payback: America’s Long War in the Middle East, New York, Brassey’s U.S., Inc., 1991.

  • Findley, Paul, Deliberate Deceptions: Facing the Facts About the U.S.-Israeli Relationship, Brooklyn, NY, Lawrence Hill Books, 1993.

  • Fisk, Robert, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon, New York, Atheneum, 1990.

  • Frank, Benis M., U.S. Marines in Lebanon: 1982-1984, History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, DC, 1987.

  • Friedman, Thomas L., From Beirut to Jerusalem, New York, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1989.

  • Green, Stephen, Living by the Sword, Amana, 1988.

  • Jansen, Michael, The Battle of Beirut: Why Israel Invaded Lebanon, London, Zed Press, 1982.

  • MacBride, Sean, Israel in Lebanon: The Report of the International Commission to enquire into reported violations of international law by Israel during its invasion of Lebanon, London, Ithaca Press, 1983.

  • Ostrovsky, Victor and Claire Hoy, By Way of Deception, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

  • Peck, Juliana S., The Reagan Administration and the Palestinian Question: The First Thousand Days, Washington, DC, Institute for Palestine Studies, 1984.

  • Randal, Jonathan, Going all the Way, New York, The Viking Press, 1983.

  • Schechla, Joseph, The Iron Fist: Israel’s Occupation of South Lebanon, 1982-1985, Washington, D.C.: ADC Research Institute, Issue Paper No. 17, 1985.

  • Schiff, Ze’ev and Ehud Ya’ari, Israel’s Lebanon War, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1984.

  • Timerman, Jacobo, The Longest War: Israel in Lebanon, New York, Vantage Books, 1982.

  • Woodward, Bob, Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1987.


  1. New York Times, 3/18/83. For a detailed review of these clashes, see Green, Living by the Sword, pp. 177-92, and Clyde Mark, “The Multinational Force in Lebanon,” Congressional Research Service, 5/19/83.

  1. See “NBC Nightly News,” 6:30 PM EST, 3/17/86; also, George C. Wilson, Washington Post, 2/5/83.

  1. Ball, Error and Betrayal in Lebanon, p. 51; Cooley, Payback, pp. 69-71.

  1. Frank, U.S Marines in Lebanon: 1982-1984, p. 137.

  1. Frank, U.S. Marines in Lebanon: 1982-1984, Appendix F.

  1. New York Times, 10/1/82. Also see Cooley, Payback, p. 71; Green,Living by the Sword, pp. 175-77

  1. The text is in New York Times, 9/30/82. Also see Peck, The Reagan Administration and the Palestinian Question, p. 76.

  1. Schiff & Ya’ari, Israel’s Lebanon War, p. 225.

  1. “Chronology of the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Summer/Fall 1982, p. 189.

  1. Green, Living by the Sword, pp. 178-80.

  1. Frank, U.S Marines in Lebanon: 1982-1984, pp. 45-46.

  1. Ibid.

  1. Green, Living by the Sword, p. 182.

  1. Frank, U.S Marines in Lebanon: 1982-1984, p. 56.

  1. New York Times, 2/9/83; “Final Report of the Israeli Commission of Inquiry,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring 1983, pp. 89-116.

  1. Frank, U.S Marines in Lebanon: 1982-1984, p. 56.

  1. New York Times, 4/22/83 and 4/26/83. For more detail on CIA victims, see Charles R Babcock, Washington Post, 8/5/86, and Woodward, Veil, pp. 244-45.

  1. Ostrovsky, By Way of Deception, p. 321.

  1. Cooley, Payback, p. 76.

  1. New York Times, 8/30/83.

  1. Ball, Error and Betrayal in Lebanon, pp. 75-77.

  1. New York Times, 9/5/83.

  1. Fisk, Pity the Nation, pp. 489-91; Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem, p. 179.

  1. New York Times, 9/6/83.

  1. Fisk, Pity the Nation, p. 505.

  1. New York Times, 9/14/83.

  1. New York Times, 9/13/83.

  1. Philip Taubman and Joel Brinkley, New York Times, 12/11/83. Also see Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison, p. 335; Fisk, Pity the Nation, p. 505; Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem, p. 210.

  1. Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem, pp. 200-01. Also see Green,Living by the Sword, pp. 190-92.

  1. New York Times, 9/29/83.

  1. New York Times, 9/25/83; David Koff, “Chronology of the War in Lebanon, Sept.-November, 1983,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Winter 1984, pp. 133-35.

  1. Philip Taubman and Joel Brinkley, New York Times, 12/11/83. Also see Cooley, Payback, pp. 80-91; Fisk, Pity the Nation, pp. 511-22; Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem, pp. 201-4; Woodward, Veil, pp. 285-87.

  1. New York Times, 1/4/84; Cooley, Payback, pp. 95-97.

  1. New York Times, 12/4/83.

  1. New York Times, 1/19/84. Also see New York Times, 1/29/84, and Cooley, Payback, p. 75. For a chronology of attacks against Americans in this period, see the Atlanta Journal, 1/31/85.

  1. Fisk, Pity the Nation, p. 533.

  1. New York Times, 4/16/84. Also see Cooley, Payback, p. 111; Fisk,Pity the Nation, p. 565.

  1. Cooley, Payback, p. 102; Fisk, Pity the Nation, p. 533; Friedman,From Beirut to Jerusalem, p. 220.


The above article of course makes mention of the incident of the US Marine, Captain Charles Johnson, who drew a pistol and climbed up onto an Israeli tank, forcing the Israeli commander of the tank to withdraw. Below is an account of that very incident published by the New York Times on February 3, 1983. Notice the blatant lies told by the Israel embassy.


A Marine, Pistol Drawn, Stops 3 Israeli Tanks

By Richard Halloran

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2— A United States Marine Corps captain drew and loaded his pistol, then climbed aboard an Israeli tank near the Lebanese University Library in Beirut and ordered an Israeli lieutenant colonel to remove his three tanks, the Defense Department reported today.

It said the lead tank in the Israeli formation stopped a foot in front of the captain, Charles B. Johnson of Company L, at his checkpoint in Beirut at 9 A.M. today. Captain Johnson told the Israelis that they would pass only ''over my dead body.''

The confrontation, the sixth incident between United States and Israeli forces in recent weeks, prompted Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth W. Dam to summon the Israeli charge d'affaires here, Benjamin Netanyahu, to lodge a protest.

The State Department spokesman, Alan D. Romberg, said, ''These recurring challenges by the Israeli forces are unacceptable.'' He said Mr. Dam had expressed to Mr. Netanyahu ''the gravity with which we view'' the incident.

The Israeli Embassy here rejected the allegation in a statement this afternoon. The embassy denied that ''there was any attempt to cross the American lines or to challenge the Marines.'' It said ''there was no such attempt.''

The Israeli statement said the three tanks were patrolling in an area that had been agreed upon by the Israeli forces and the Marines after an ambush last Sunday in which an Israeli soldier was killed. It said: ''After completion of the patrol, a U.S. Marine officer approached the Israeli unit and claimed that it should not be in this area. The Israeli commander explained that he was operating in the territory previously agreed upon and left.''

In a statement this evening, the embassy said the Marine captain had told the Israeli tank commander that he was not familiar with details of the agreement on a demarcation line. The embassy asserted that the Marine officer had failed to follow communications procedures intended to prevent misunderstandings and that the Marines had failed to take part in joint reconnaissance to set demarcation lines between American and Israeli areas of operations.

On Capitol Hill, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger told the House Armed Services Committee that Captain Johnson, who is from Rock Island, Ill., would be commended for his ''courageous action'' when confronting the ''threatening moves'' by the Israeli tanks.

In an apparently unrelated incident, the Defense Department said a mortar round exploded about 50 yards from a Marine tent south of the Beirut airport. Military officers said they did not know who had fired the round. No casualties were reported.

In another incident, three French soldiers in the peacekeeping force were wounded by unknown assailants who fired on them while they were jogging. Mr. Romberg said the incident ''concerns us and underscores the importance of a withdrawal of all foreign forces as soon as possible.''

Mr. Weinberger and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were reluctant to commit the Marines to Lebanon because they did not want to risk clashes between United States military forces and Arab or Israeli forces in Lebanon or to get bogged down in a long stay.

The Marines went to Lebanon initially for 16 days in June, then returned after the massacre in the Beirut refugee camps in September. The Administration hoped to pull the Marines out by the end of 1982 but was unable to do so because other foreign troops had not left.

According to the Pentagon account, the confrontation began when the three British-built Centurion tanks moved north on a path toward the Marine company headquarters. They were about 300 yards from the Marine position when Captain Johnson stepped out to halt them.

''The lead Israeli tank stopped within a foot of him,'' the account said. Captain Johnson asked to speak to the senior Israeli, who dismounted after five minutes. Neither the Pentagon nor the Israeli Embassy made public the name of that officer, a lieutenant colonel reported to have been involved in two earlier incidents.

Captain Johnson told the Israeli officer that he had orders not to permit the tanks to pass. The Israeli said that he intended to proceed through the Marine position to a railroad track and that he also wanted to speak to a Marine general.

When Captain Johnson repeated his orders, the Israeli said he would pass through anyway and mounted his tank. ''At this point,'' the Pentagon statement said, ''the company commander drew and loaded his weapon and stated that the tanks would have to go over him to pass.''

Mr. Weinberger, in relating the incident on Capitol Hill, said Captain Johnson ''climbed on the lead tank and said if they were coming through they would have to go over his dead body.''

The Pentagon said the lead Israeli Defense Force tank turned west, as if to go around Captain Johnson, and moved forward several yards. The other two tanks also began to move forward.

''The Marine company commander then mounted the first I.D.F. tank with his weapon drawn and told the senior Israeli officer to stop his tanks,'' the Pentagon statement said. ''The I.D.F. lieutenant colonel, after speaking on the radio, stopped his tanks. At approximately 9:50 A.M., all of the Israeli tanks departed southward to the old Sidon Road.'
« PREV
NEXT »

No comments

Post a Comment