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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Marine Barack Beirut Bombing 1983 - rescue efforts from Israel thwarted?

Jack Kemp

Since Tea Party Nation and Atlas Shrugs are writing about the Marines killed in the 1983 Beirut truck bombings and their attempts to freeze Iranian bank accounts in the US is back in the news, one may want to consider a different angle. Although I cannot find the documentation for what I'm about to say, few of the following facts are in doubt. No Marines were taken to Israeli hospitals (the closest) at the time of the Beirut bombing. So this becomes an opinion piece as for now. Whether the Israelis actually offered help is undocumented by me and is open to speculation.

When the bomb went off at the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, wounded Marines were taken first to the USS Iwo Jima offshore and later to a British military hospital on Cyprus (1/2 hr. to 1 hr. flight) and to a US military hospital in Ramstein, Germany (6 hour flight).

I believe I read in some news magazine at that time - and cannot document now - that Israel supposedly offered its military hospital at Bat Galim, located on a peninsula just south of Haifa and 15 minutes helicopter flying time from Beirut. The US didn't want to be seen as being too "one sided friendly" with Israel and they declined the offer. The additional flying times to Cyprus and, of course, Germany, may well have lead to additional deaths and increased the severity of longer untreated injuries. As good as the care was on the USS Iwo Jima, it is a realistic assumption that they may well have had more injured Marines than they had surgeons to treat them.

I also believe - and cannot prove - that Israel offered search dogs and a type of huge rubber bag that could be inflated to lift the ceiling/roof of a bombed Marine base building, easing the removal of the wounded. All these offers were declined for political reasons by the Reagan Administration and Sec. of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

About a month ago, I was looking for this old story on the internet but could not find anything with a free search engine. Some journalist with the paid Lexis/Nexis service - or contacts among longtime US Marine and Navy officers might be able to confirm - or disprove - what I have have said here. Right now this story remains unconfirmed.

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