From the Israeli resort town of Metulla, looking across the valley into Lebanon, about the only thing you can see of the Palestinian-held town of Khiam is the white United Nations observer post with the large letters UN written in black.
Khiam has been shelled and mortared by Israeli and Labanese Christian forces trying to dislodge the Palestinians since PLO forces recaptured it from the Christians in April, but the ordeal of U.S. Air Force Capt. Neil Hartschuh and Lucien Le Page of the French army, both U.S. observers, did not begin in earnest until Sept. 16, when the Israeli army crossed the border with about 300 men supported by tanks and armored personnel carriers in order to support a Lebanese Christian assault on the town.
Until then the Christians and Israelis had been careful not to bombard the UN post although the Palestinians were dug in around it. A week after the Israeli force crossed over mortar rounds, artillery and tank shells began bursting in on the U.N. post. The gunners blew away the radio antennae but Hartschuh and Le Page, deep in their bunker with plenty of food and water, had a secondary radio and were able to report that they were holding out.
Despite the bombardment, the assault forces were unable to take Khiam.
Then, under intense American diplomatic pressure, the Israelis were persuaded to take their force back across the border and a cease-fire was reached on Sept. 26. Still, the Christian forces refused to allow the U.S. to relieve the embattled observer post through their lines from Israel. Harschuh and Le Page remained in their bunker until a U.N. relief force arrived from the north, through Palestinian lines, on Sept. 28.
The two U.N. officers were commended and given a two-week rest.
According to Washington Post reporter Thomas W. Lippman, who recently visited the town, Khiam is a shattered ruin with most of the civilian population gone, but two new U.N. observers are back in their observation post.