INTRODUCTION: Relations between Israel and Syria were further strained on Thursday (14 May) when Syrian and Lebanese sources said the Syrians had shot down an Israeli reconnaissance plane over central Lebanon.
GV Habib's car arriving and guard of honour presents arms. Habib walks past them and greets official
SV INTERIOR Habib talking to Sarkis
SV INTERIOR U.S. Ambassador Dean seated next to Habib. GV reporters and cameramen (2 shots)
SV Habib. GV Habib, Sarkis and Dean (2 shots)
GV Habib leaving, refusing to comment to reporters
GV Habib's motorcade leaving Presidential Palace
SYRIA: (MUTE) GVs In Damascus: wreckage of pilotless Israeli reconnaissance plane (4 shots)
JERUSALEM. SV PAN Begin gets out of car and talks to reporter
Tel Aviv. GVs Habib's aircraft arrives and Habib disembarks and greets officials (3 shots)
GV Habib's car driving away
SPEECH ON FILM (TRANSCRIPT) (SEQ 9)
NEWSMAN: "Mr. Begin, sir, can we get your statement about the Israeli plane that was shot down"?
BEGIN: "It was a pilotless plane for purpose of reconnaissance, and it was shot down by the Syrians with SAM-6, which they concentrated in Lebanon. It's a very serious event, because it proves how dangerous those missiles are for our over-flights. And, therefore, it is our duty to inform Mr. Habib, who is coming now; he is already in Jerusalem...to inform him about this development. It proves our thesis: that these missiles are dangerous to our national security."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Relations between Israel and Syria were further strained on Thursday (14 May) when Syrian and Lebanese sources said the Syrians had shot down an Israeli reconnaissance plane over central Lebanon. Reuters news agency said the Syrian had apparently used SAM-6 missiles, forcing the aircraft to crash in a field in the Bekaa Valley. In Jerusalem, the Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin admitted the loss, saying the incident proved how dangerous Syrian missiles were to Israel security. Meanwhile, the United States special envoy to the Middle East, Mr. Philip Habib, flew back unexpectedly early to Israel following talks with leaders in Damascus and Beirut. Mr. Habib had left Israel on Wednesday (13 May) carrying a compromise plan for settlement of the Lebanon missile crisis, and had not been expected back until Friday (15 May).
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Habib arriving in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, where shelling and shooting had been intensive in the days before his visit. He had flown in here from Damascus with what was called a new American plan to avoid a conflict between Syria and Israel. Official sources in Jerusalem said the plan called for withdrawal of the anti-aircraft missiles that Syria had installed in east Lebanon last month (April) after Israeli jets had shot down two Syrian helicopters there. The plan would also involve Israel reducing air activity over Lebanon, and Syrian withdrawal from hilltops surroundings the besieged Lebanese Christian township of Zahle. In Beirut, Mr. Habib was to have two hours of talks with Lebanese President Elias Arkis, but the envoy later refused to disclosed any details of what they had discussed. American Ambassador Dean was at their talks.
As they were talking, Syria's official Press was predicting that Mr. Habib's mission was headed for failure because of what it called Israeli aggression and threats against Lebanon. As he left, Mr. Habib said to newsmen: "I'm not talking these days." Premeditated violence coincided with his visit to Beirut, with new clashes along the dividing the Christian and Moslem of the capital.
The wreckage of the pilotless Israeli reconnaissance plane, which is called a "drone". Reuters said the official Syrian announcement of the incident did not disclose whether SAM-6 missiles had struck it. The agency quoted local farm workers as saying there has been three missiles, two of them coming from the village of Deir Zanou, where the Syrians had installed a Soviet-supplied SAM-6 battery. Later on Thursday (14 May), Mr. Begin was questioned about the plane in Jerusalem.
Mr. Habib's own aircraft touched down in Tel Aviv. Before his abrupt return, he had three hours of talks in Damascus with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. As he had done in Beirut, Mr. Habib would say nothing about these talks, but informed Syrian sources, quoted by Reuters, said President Assad would have made clear there was no question of missiles being withdrawn in Lebanon. The right-wing Phalangist radio there reported that a Syrian missile had failed to hit a second Israeli aircraft flying high over the Bekaa Valley. The radio said the missile had exploded over Zahle.