The Lebanese Army stationed about 30 soldiers in this mountain village torn by Christian-Moslem fighting in a symbolic display today of the army's declared intention eventually to replace Israeli troops here as peace-keepers.
The action was seen in part as an effort by President Amin Gemayel to demonstrate during his current U.S. visit that he is determined to restore central government authority in Lebanon.
But the Israeli presence, bolstered in Kfar Matta by two tanks and three armored personnel carriers, overshadowed that of the Lebanese. The Israelis also remain in three other villages in this district about 15 miles southeast of Beirut, where they moved in Friday to end four days of combat between Moslem Druze and Christian Phalangist militias.
It was unclear how eager the Lebanese Army was to enter the area in force and take positions in other villages. It has not sent a full contingent despite several days of forecasts in the Lebanese press that such deployment was imminent. The Lebanese commander here, who did not give his name, said his men were testing whether it was safe for more to come.
In addition, the Israelis apparently were not making it particularly easy for the Lebanese to move in. The Lebanese government is reluctant to send army troops before the Israelis have pulled out, but an Israeli military spokesman said Israel insisted on a period of overlap between Lebanese deployment and Israeli withdrawal to ensure that the Lebanese were able to enforce the cease-fire. An Israeli source said Israel might ask an overlap of 48 hours or more.
Senior Lebanese officials and local Druze leaders have accused the Israelis of deliberately stirring up trouble in the area in order to justify the need for their presence as peace-makers. Druze officials charge that the Israelis have encouraged their Phalangist allies to set up roadblocks and attack Druze militiamen.
The Lebanese Army would take on a major new responsibility if it were to enforce the truce here. It has been largely ineffectual since it split along Moslem-Christian lines during the 1975-76 civil war.
Gemayel presided over a meeting yesterday of Druze and Phalangist leaders that agreed that the army ultimately should move in. The Beirut press reported that Gemayel was eager to bring about positive results before his departure for the United States.
The Lebanese Army soldiers here stood with automatic rifles behind two walls of sandbags in the village square separating the Druze from the Christian sector of town. About five yards away, Israeli soldiers also stood guard next to their tanks and armored vehicles.