Israeli planes bombed and strafed Palestinian guerrilla positions in southern Lebanon today in apparent retaliation for Palestinian artillery shelling of the western Galille in Israel.
Easter today, the southern Lebanese coastal city of Tyre was heavily damaged by shelling, apparently by the Israeli-supported southern Lebanese Christian forces of Maj. Saad Haddad. The shelling came a day after a similar shelling of nearby port city of Sidon killed 16 persons.
[The State Department in Washington condemned the Sidon shelling as "particularly abhorrent" because it his public places frequented by holiday crowds.]
As the shelling intensified in southern Lebanon, the commander of Israeli Army forces along the border sharply criticized government policy on the region, calling for all-out Israeli support to the northern Lebanese Christians to enable them to drive Syrian and Palestinian forces out of Lebanon.
Defense sources said Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who is also defense minister, has been restraining the Israeli Amry northern commander, Lt. Gen. Avigdor Gen-Gal, from increasing direct assistance to the main Christian militia in northern Lebanon, the Phalangists.
Ben-Gal, in an interview published in the Hebrew daily Davar, was sharply critical of the government for what he said was failure to adopt a consistent policy on Lebanon. Ben-Gal said he would like to see "all-out Israeli he would like to see "all-out Israeli support for the Christians now fighting with their backs to the wall, to enable them to liberate Lebanon from the Syrian conquerer."
He added, "It is in Israel's interest to have a Christian Lebanon free of the Syrain Army."
Once the Israeli Army and the Christian forces crush the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon, Ben-Gal said, "Out of its ruins will rise something else which we can reach agreement."
The advocates of a more aggressive Israeli policy in Lebanon argue that Syria is so isolated in the Arab world that Israeli intervention be restricted to one front. The net effect would be to weaken Sria's Army, while at the same time widening areas of Christian dominance and weakening Palestinian and leftist Moslem Lebanese forces, they say.
However, Cabinet sources said a majority of the Isreali ministers are in accord with Begin's view that Israeli intervention in northern Lebanon would not guarantee a withdrawal by the Syrian peacekeeping forces, and could prompt renewed violence in the occupied West Bank and among Arabs in Israel proper.
Haddad, the rebel Lebanese officer who runs an Israeli-sponsored secessionist enclave, was reported to be recovering rapidly in a Haifa hospital where he was taken yesterday after complaining of chest pains. Authorities said he was suffering from "exhaustion and fatiguwe."
The Palestinian guerrilla shelling today included several shells fired from southern Lebanon into the western Galilee, apparently in retaliation for the shelling of Sidon and Tyre. The Israeli Army said there were no casualties and no damage was reported.
United Press International reported from Beirut:
Syrian peacekeeping troops hit crowded apartment blocks in Christian East Beirut with rocket fire as President Elias Sarkis and Prime Minister Chefik Wazzan tried to contact the warring patries to restore a cease-fire supposedly in effect since April 8.
Police sources said the Syrian peacekeeping troops fired artillery, Soviet-made missiles and rockets on Phalangist-controlled quarters of Beirut and on the port of Jounieh, 13 miles north of the capital. Villages in the mountainous Keserwan region northeast of Beirut also came under fire, they said.
The Syrians launched their barrage against the Christian areas after three of their soldiers were killed in artillery and machine-gun exchanges between them and the Phalangists along the line dividing prediminantly Moslem west Beirut from the eastern half of the capital.
A U.S. vice consul indentified as Steve Patterson was slightly injured when a stray bullet smashed through a window of his apartment in western Beirut, according to the U.S. Embassy spokesman, Boulos Malek.