Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat called for increased guerrilla operations against Israel when he addressed about 10,000 Palestinians at a Beirut rally on Sunday (1 January 1978).
Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat called for increased guerrilla operations against Israel when he addressed about 10,000 Palestinians at a Beirut rally on Sunday (1 January 1978). With George Habash, leader of the Marxist Popular Front for The Liberation of Palestine by his side, Mr Arafat also condemned the United States' Middle East policy.
SYNOPSIS: According to observers the rally was the biggest display of Palestinian military strength since the civil war in Lebanon ended over a year ago. Mr Arafat arrived at the rally in a Beirut sports stadium surrounded by bodyguards. The parade was held to mark the 13th anniversary of the first Palestinian raid against Israel, and among the crowd were about 3,000 guerrilla fighters, some of them armed.
It was Mr Arafat's second speech to a mass rally within 24 hours. At the first, on the outskirts of a seaside town 10 miles (16 kilometres) south of Beirut, he said that revolution 'was the only way'. In the stadium he made a defiant speech against United States President Jimmy Carter -- who is due to have talks with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Saudi Arabian leaders later this week.
To the cheers of young children the Palestinian leader reviewed the troops.
The procession around the stadium was led by guerrillas carrying rocket launchers and riding in vehicles mounted with heavy machine guns. They were followed by soldiers who had graduated from a military training centre at a Palestinian camp in Beirut. One of the units was led by an armed woman who had lost a husband and several sons during the war. Also there were a number of Palestinian university students who had arrived from the United States specially for the occasion.
Apparently reconciled with his former Marxist rival George Habash, Mr Arafat said "when Carter says no to a Palestinian State, he says no peace in the Middle East".