Israeli warplanes bombed and strafted Palistinian guerrilla encampments near the coast of central Lebanon yesterday after a terrorist bomb explosion killed one person and wounded 49 others in a crowded Tel Aviv marketplace.
The government, in announcing the retaliatory air strike, said that in the future, the "murderers" organizations will be hit wherever they may be."
In yesterday's explosion of a nail bomb in Tel Aviv's Carmel market, a 72-year-old man was fatally injured. Four persons were seriously wounded.
Shortly after the explosion, the Palestine Liberation Organization in Beirut claimed responsibility. [In Washington, the State Department condemned the Tel Aviv bombings.]
It was the first reprisal raid acknowledged by Israel since its troops invaded southern Lebanon March 15. Palestinians had attacked a tourist bus near Tel Aviv three days earlier leaving 32 persons dead and 85 wounded.
The decision to launch air strike inside Lebanon reportedly was made immediately after the explosion, in a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman.
The government said the Israeli warplane struck at Dahar el Tutah, on the Saharni River, about nine miles south of Sidon. It is north of the Litani River.
Officials said the raid was completed in minutes and all planes returned to their base. The number of planes was not disclosed.
The site is near Dahar el Burj, which Israeli paratroopers and naval commandos attacked June 9, killing at least eight Fatah Patestinian guerrillas. Although that raid followed by a week a terrorist bombing of a civilian bus in downtown Jerusalem, the government said it was not a retaliatory strike but was ordered because of intelligence information that a terrorist attack on an Israeli target was to be conducted within a matter of days.
After the air strike by the Israeli Air Force, an official of the PLO news agency WAFA said, "The terrorist Prime Minister Menachem Begin was unable to do anything against our revolution in Tel Aviv, so he sent out his planes to hit innocent Palestinian refugees."
Later, the PLO was quoted by Israel's state-controlled radio as modifying the allegation to say that the attack had occurred on a virtually deserted hillside hamlet and that one person had been killed.
The Israeli government said that the target area included Fatah training camps and caches of arms and equipment, including artillery and other heavy weapons. The government said the area "is under the sole control of the terrorist organizations who maintain these camps."
The central target, according to army officials, was a "terrorist training camp which also serves as a starting point for murder gangs against targets in Israel." The government said the base is "in an isolated region, not near any civilian population."
Israel was criticized sharply after the March Lebanon invasion for the destruction of civilian towns and a high rate of civilian casualties stemming from the use of American-made cluster bombs.
The swiftness of yesterday's raid underscored the Begin government's growing concern over the frequency of terrorist bombings within Israel's borders and reports that European and Japanese terrorist organizations are being enlisted to assist Palestinians in launching raids.
In late June, the day before Vice President Walter Mondale's visit to Israel, a bomb exploded in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, killing two persons and injuring scores.
Police said the bomb that exploded at the Carmel market, in the heart of Tel Aviv, was hidden in a black handbag that terrorists placed under a clothing stand. It splintered flimsy wooden frames of the vendor stalls and sent shards of metal flying into the crowded marketplace as shoppers ran to safety.
According to United Press International, some of the stall owners chased after Palestinian Arabs who were in the area and, catching a few, beat them until police and army officers intervended.
Witnesses said that as dozens of Arab suspects were rounded up, shopkeepers and passerby shouted, "Death to the Arabs. Let us have them! You only put them in rest houses. We'll kill them!"
Authorities said several policemen were beaten and slightly injured in the melee, and that a few Israelis burst into a nearby police laboratory building and caused some damage before being apprehended.
One policeman, interviewed on television, complained that the Israeli shopkeepers "employ them (the Arabs) and then they beat them up."
Authorities questioned about 100 suspects, giving them chemical tests to determine if they had been near explosive powder, and then released all but a few.
According to Reuter news agency, two of the arrested Arabs who were released then returned to the market, where one of them owns a stall. One of the Palestinian Arabs, a resident of the occupied West Bank, was quoted as saying, "This is our fate until peace comes. The jews suffer. We suffer. Everyone does until peace comes."
Several shopkeepers complained that only one police unit arrived at the scene during the first 15 minutes, and that some emergency crews did not arrive for an hour. Dov Shalasky, a member of the parliament, said he had submitted an urgent message to the police to maintain a permanent emergency station at the market.
The Carmel market was the scene of a terrorist bomb blast a year ago, in which 11 persons were injured.
Israeli Interior Minister Josef Burg, who visited the scene, said: "This is a vile act. Instead of increasing understanding it brings only hatred. We'll do our best to find those responsible and bring them to justice."