• Short Summary

    In Lebanon, rescue workers have reported at least 40 people died when Israeli jets bombed the crowded settlement of Ouzai'i beside Beirut airport on Wednesday (15 March).

  • Description

    GVs OF: Israeli air strike in Southern Lebanon. (3 SHOTS)

    GV & SV: People walking through bomb-damaged buildings in Ouzai'i. (4 SHOTS)

    SV: People weeping around body lying on bed. (2 shots)

    SCU AT TYRE: Palestinian speaking in English.

    CAIRO: SV & CU: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat standing in doorway talking to newsmen.

    SCU CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel speaking in English.

    SV & GV SOUTHERN LEBANON: Israeli troops driving in convoy. (2 SHOTS)

    CU: Southern Lebanese Christians welcoming Israeli soldiers in village. (2 SHOTS)

    The Ouzai'i area is a narrow strip of low-cost houses, restaurants and shops running parallel to the main runway of Beirut airport, just south of the Lebanese capital. Residents here had not expected an Israeli attack. They contended the area had no military value, though Israeli military spokesman said the planes bombed there to destroy a jetty used by Palestinian commandos.

    Local people denied the existence of a jetty, and western correspondents said they could find no traces of one among the ruins. Phantom jets were reported to have made several bombing runs on the suburb. Most of the seafront was destroyed. The attacks levelled an area of about 1,000 square metres (1196 square yards). Many of the dead were buried beneath the rubble. Rescue workers believe the death toll could rise, because the Ouzai'i area is usually crowded with people.

    While the dead were mourned, the Syrian-dominated peace force of the Arab League has asked Syria to bring in more air defence material. At Tyre, a Palestinian commando was asked his predictions.

    REPORTER: "What do you think the Israelis will do now?"

    PALESTINIAN: "They want to stay here, to occupy all the, er, this area. Maybe they will stop at (INDISTINCT)."

    REPORTER: "Will they come to Tyre?"

    PALESTINIAN: "Maybe."

    REPORTER: "If they come to Tyre, what will you do?"

    PALESTINIAN: "Me? I will fight them."

    REPORTER: "Officials here were stunned at the extent of the Israeli attack, and Sadat appeared shaken, his peace initiative a shambles. His Foreign Ministry described the raid as organised genocide, and the Foreign Minister himself, tonight at a state reception, voiced the biggest concern in the Arab world."

    KAMEL: "The Israelis are thinking of establishing a security belt within Lebanese territory which would further complicate a very complicated situation."

    On Thursday (16 March) Israeli troops were reported, by independent sources, to have taken control of an unbroken belt of land inside the Lebanon-Israel frontier. This strip was said to be four-to eight kilometres (2.5-to-five miles) wide and stretching east from the Mediterranean coast to the town of Bint Jbeil, and north to Khiam and Ibl as-Saqi. Estimates put the number of dead at 300, including at least 130 Lebanese civilians. Israel said her toll was 14 dead and 57 wounded.

    Reports on Friday (17 March) said Israeli troops, backed by tanks, were advancing from two directions on one of the remaining Palestinian strongholds in southern Lebanon, the hilltop town of Tebnine, dominated by a Crusader fortes. An officer of al-Fatah, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's largest guerrilla force, said his men were digging in and preparing for a long defensive struggle. At the United Nations, Arab delegates agreed in principle on Thursday to request an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council to consider the Israeli invasion. In Washington, government officials said the United States would seek the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon, and the despatch of United Nations peacekeeping forces to the area. Israeli officials in Washington said their government was willing to accept Lebanese army forces, a strengthening of local Christian militia, or a United Nations force.

    Initials JS/0340


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: In Lebanon, rescue workers have reported at least 40 people died when Israeli jets bombed the crowded settlement of Ouzai'i beside Beirut airport on Wednesday (15 March). The raid was part of Israel's huge assault on Palestinian commando positions in Lebanon. The numbers of casualties was expected to rise as workers kept digging through the rubble. Meanwhile, in Egypt, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel said that, if Israel planned to set up a 'security belt' in southern Lebanon, she would complicate an already complicated issue the quest for peace in the Middle East.

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