INTRODUCTION: In Southern Lebanon, a Christian community is serving as a buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon's Palestinian commandos.
GV Israeli patrol on frontier
GV Building, then peasant with donkey
GV Tank entering square of town (2 shots)
SV Motifs on armoured vehicle, and crew, motif again of Saad Haddad on vehicle (3 shots)
CU Haddad (MUTE) Speaks in English until
GV Children entering school
SV Radio aerial PULL OUT TO GV Radio Free Lebanon building
SV INTERIOR Sign saying "On Air"
CU Radio announcer speaking in English
SHOT CONTINUES MUTE UNTIL
CU Religious message on wall
GV Armoured vehicle leaving town
GVs Civilians in streets
SPEECH ON FILM (TRANSCRIPT)
MUNKTON: "On the Northern frontier, the Israeli patrols feel a little more secure these days. Across the border, with Israeli support, a right-wing Christian militia has carved out a state within a state in Southern Lebanon, providing a buffer zone between Palestinian commando bases and their targets inside Israel.
"Known as "Free Lebanon", its 100,000 residents live a precarious existence between combatants engaged in a 30 year war of attrition. Their own militia received Israeli backing and it's been disowned by the Lebanese government in Beirut. But its leader Major Saad Haddad says he's prepared to rejoin the demoralised Lebanese Army to expel Syrian and PLO forces from Lebanon."
HADDAD (SEQ. 5): "I am ready to co-operate with everybody working for Lebanon: one the Lebanese Army will try to work for Lebanon to re-establish a reasoned authority beginning from the capital. And second, from the occupying forces, I am ready to help them and to co-operate with them and put myself under their disposal."
MUNKTON: "Haddad tried to make life as normal as possible for his "Free Lebanese". There are schools, hospitals and plans for quite a bit more.
"And from his radio station here he can beam his message to all of Lebanon and to most of the rest of the Middle East as well."
ANNOUNCER: "W.O.R.J. and K.I.N.G. dedicated to bringing a little peace to a troubled world. Now back to music here at W.O.R.J. and K.I.N.G."
MUNKTON: "Funded by an American Christian group, Radio Free Lebanon stresses its religious message.
"Unlike the other militia holding sway over their respective areas of Lebanon, Haddad's so-called "Free Lebanon" can only exist with Israeli support. But, as long as that buffer zone makes it more difficult for PLO guerrillas to strike at Israel itself, the Israeli Army is not going to abandon it. Peter Munkton in Southern Lebanon for A.B.C. News."
REPORTER: PETER MUNKTON
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: In Southern Lebanon, a Christian community is serving as a buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon's Palestinian commandos. The Israeli-backed militia has exchanged artillery fire with Palestinian troops on at least one occasion this year, and has survived numerous ground and air attacks. In January alone, about 20 people died in various clashes between the Israeli and Palestinian forces in Southern Lebanon. Despite being caught in the cross-fire of the conflict, the Christian community is consolidating its position as a valuable ally for Israel. This report from Peter Munkton of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.