Israeli and rightist Christian militia gunners shelled 26 southern Lebanese villages today, Lebanese authorities said.
The state run Beirut Radio, describing what it called an escalation in Israel's "war of attrition," against Palestinian guerrillas, said 11 persons were killed and more than 30 wounded. That would make it one of the heaviest artillery attacks in southers Lebanon since fighting broke out there in the aftermath of the 1975-76 Lebanese civil war.
Eyewitnesses in the area reported that an additional eight persons were killed and 19 wounded when Israeli commandos crossed three miles into Lebanon and raided a Palestinian guerrilla stronghold in the village of Alhamam.
Military sources in Tel Aviv denied the reports of a commando raid. The Israelis also said that the artillery strikes were made by the Lebanese Christians.
In Tel Aviv, meanwhile, two bombs exploded in a crowded amusement park, wounding four persons, police said. Israeli police officials blamed the blasts on "Palestinian terrorists" and said they feared more bombs were hidden in the park.
In Jordan, Palestinian guerrilla chief Yasser Arafat conferred with King Hussein, reportedly to advance a budding reconcillation between the king and the guerrillas. It was their third meeting since King Hussein expelled Arafat's forces form Jordan following bloody battles there in 1970.
Arafat said afterward that he and the king discussed "the best ways of confronting" the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the "autonomy conspiracy," a reference to negotiations among the United States, Egypt and Israel on a form of autonomy for Palestinians on the West Bank and the Gaza strip.
Reporting on the shelling in south Lebanon, Beirut Radio said, "Israel has intensified its war of attrition, spreading death and destruction."
Provincial officials said shells were falling indiscriminately, hitting Palestinian and Lebanese leftist camps as well as village homes, churches and archeological ruins.
Reports from the south said a monastery 14 miles from Alhamam and a convent in Nabatiyeh came under heavy shelling.
It was not immediately clear how many of the casualties were Palestinian guerrillas and how many were Lebanese civilians.
The shelling began late Monday and continued through the night, intensifying after dawn, local officials said. Thousands of people were reported fleeing toward the north, chased out of their homes by the artillery fire and Israeli air strikes the day before.
In Washington, the State Department said it hoped the air strikes would not signal a new round of violence in south Lebanon. Spokesman Thomas Reston said he did not know whether the aircraft used were U.S. made.
Washington is concerned that Israel's use of American-supplied weapons outside its borders may break an agreement that the arms be used only for self-defense.