Israeli warplanes struck at five Palestinian targets bordering two refugee camps east of this port city in southern Lebanon today. Guerrilla officials said eight persons were injured.
The planes flew over the shantytowns of Mieh Mieh and Ain Helweh and surrounding hills, scoring direct hits against bases and command posts used by forces of two Palestinian factions, Fatah, which is headed by Yasser Arafat, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
An Israeli military spokesman in Tel Aviv was quoted as saying today's attack was in retaliation for attempts by guerrillas to infiltrate into northern Israel and for the rocketing of towns there. He said the raid targeted guerrilla command posts, training centers and a radio station.
A Fatah commander inspecting the bombed-out sites said that the raid, the third by Israel this year, was "expected," and he said that "such attacks will not deter us."
"We were anticipating a raid in retaliation to guerrilla operations inside Israel," he said.
"We were spared because of standing orders since the last raid to fan out in the countryside at daybreak," one young fighter said.
The few remaining civilian residents of the mostly deserted Christian Lebanese village of Mieh Mieh, however, were angered by the raid, which drove a deeper wedge between them and the guerrillas.
"They have ruined our homes, they keep falling back into this habit," muttered Mahmoud Hannawi, a carpenter in Mieh Mieh, as Palestinian fighters hauled military gear and ammunition pouches from the remains of a guerrilla center near his house.
"Go take your military bases elsewhere, they don't have to be hidden between our houses," snapped Adib Injibar, another angry resident. His comment brought a retort from a Palestinian commander. "You are being provocative," the commander warned.
The commander insisted that there were no civilians in sight when he and his men came to the area and "there were also no residents around when we fought the Israelis alone," he added.
The dense presence of guerrillas in Mieh Mieh demonstrated Palestinian determination to revive activity in southern Lebanon. Arafat declared last month that the Palestinian fighters evacuated from Lebanon in 1982 were back in position to strike at Israel.
One young fighter boasted that the Palestinian camps around Sidon are now "better armed than ever before," and that his comrades are better trained.
"All our weapons come from the Bekaa," which is controlled by Syria, he said in answer to a question.
Security sources here said there were at least four guerrillas among the casualties and two children. The state-run Beirut Radio said two persons were killed in the raid, but hospital officials and guerrillas here said there had been no deaths.
The Fatah commander said the hilltop Beit Maqdass headquarters had been leveled. A Fatah-run radio station used for sending coded messages to guerrillas operating behind enemy lines also was knocked out, a combatant said. The station was not yet fully operational and was being used just for trial messages, he added.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Red Cross staged a 24-hour strike today to protest the kidnaping of three of its Christian workers in Moslem west Beirut.