Palestinian Leader Habash Visits West Bank Activists With AM-Israel-Violence, Bjt
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Hardline PLO leader George Habash on Tuesday visited four West Bank activists deported by Israel to southeast Lebanon.
Habash, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, drove from his headquarters in Damascus, Syria, to visit the deportees at a Red Cross center in the Bekaa Valley town of Ksara.
It marked the first trip to the area by a such a ranking official of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization in four years.
Prominent PLO figures have not visited the Bekaa since PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat was driven from the region by Syrian-backed rebels in 1983, a year after Israel invaded Lebanon and forced the guerrillas from Beirut and south Lebanon.
Habash’s organization leads the hardline camp in the PLO. It maintains bases behind Syrian army lines in the Bekaa and took delivery of the four men expelled by Israel on Wednesday on charges on fomenting anti-occupation riots. Daily violence began Dec. 8 in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The four activists on Thursday began a sit-in at Ksara, 24 miles southeast of Beirut and 55 miles north of the Israeli border, demanding to be allowed to return home. They earlier asked that the Red Cross fly them to Geneva if they could not return home - ″so that we can address world public opinion with a louder voice.″
There was no immediate response from the International Committee of the Red Cross in Beirut to the request.
The deportees are Bashir Ahmed Al Kheiri Jabril Mahmoud Rujub, Jamal Mohammed Jibara and Husam Abdul Rahman Khader.
Sources in Habash’s organization said he would meet leftist Lebanese leaders in east Lebanon to discuss support for the rioting in the occupied territories, taken by Israel from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 Middle East war.