Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 4, 1983, Page 6
Facts For Your Files: A Chronology of U.S.-Middle East Relations
The Pentagon made public a letter from General Robert Barrow, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, in which General Barrow said that Israeli troops had involved U.S. marines and army personnel in "life-threatening situations" and that he could "no longer remain silent on this continual problem of provocation from the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces)." (For a complete text of the letter, see below.)
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Samuel Lewis presented Israel's Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir with written U.S. proposals on implementing security arrangements in southern Lebanon as part of a plan for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon. The proposals were first given to Mr. Shamir orally when he was in Washington several days before.
The Israeli government denied, in a statement, charges made by U.S. Marine Commandant Robert Barrow that Israeli troops had, among other actions, placed American military officers in "life-threatening situations ... .. No incident whatsoever is known in which IDF soldiers threatened an American officer," the statement said. It added that all jurisdictional disputes between U.S. marines and Israeli forces since January 1 "were in the locations under IDF control and outside the area under marine control."
Col. James Mead, commander of the 1,200 U.S. marines on peacekeeping duty in Lebanon, said in an interview that for the last two months Israeli units in Lebanon were conducting "reconnaissance by fire"—indiscriminately firing into roadside areas—and that as a result "we (the marines) were catching ricochets in our positions." A former head of Lebanon's internal security police, Hisham Shaar, had said in February before leaving office that five Lebanese civilians had been killed by Israeli "reconnaissance by fire."
Israel's Defense Minister, Moshe Arens, said that Israel was willing to share information on Soviet military equipment and other intelligence data gleaned from its war in Lebanon "on the basis of the agreements that have existed for quite a while now between the United States and Israel." Israeli officials would not say publicly whether their offer represented an acceptance of the proposal put forth last February by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger for the exchange of information.
The Pentagon formally notified Congress that it plans to sell the government of Israel 200 Sidewinder missiles at a total cost of approximately $16 million.
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut said in a statement that an agreement had been reached between the contingent of U.S. marines serving with the multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon and the Israeli command "on improved measures" to avoid confrontations. The statement also said that the agreement would "eliminate the possibility of misunderstanding which might lead to future incidents between them."
Col. Arthur Fintel, the head of the U.S. military team which is training the Lebanese army, disputed charges made by Israel and others that it will take several years before Lebanon's army will be able to provide adequate security in southern Lebanon. Col. Fintel said at a news conference in Beirut that four Lebanese army brigades were already performing adequately and "I don't see any indication that they couldn't properly secure the (southern) border" with Israel.