TEL AVIV (Sep. 4)
Two Israeli soldiers were killed this morning, two others were wounded and two terrorists were slain in a brief, fierce gun battle in an olive grove in Western Galilee south of the Lebanese border. Leaflets found on the terrorists’ bodies indicated that their mission was to capture Israeli hostages whose lives would be exchanged for the release of 20 terrorists in Israeli prisons and the release of the Greek Catholic Archbishop Hillarion Capucci who was indicted in Jerusalem yesterday on charges of smuggling arms to terrorists inside Israel.
One of the Israeli soldiers killed was identified as Hamid Rashan Kashani, 21, of Jerusalem. The name of the other soldier was not immediately disclosed but his family has been notified.
Israeli authorities flatly denied this morning a claim by the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Damascus that its men were holding a number of Israelis hostage in northern Israel. The authorities said that two terrorists involved in today’s clash were killed and one was captured. The gang, which infiltrated from Lebanon, was confronted by an Israeli patrol at about 3 a.m. local time in the olive grove outside Fassuta, an Arab Catholic village. A curfew was clamped on Fassuta after the clash as Israeli forces combed the area for more infiltrators. It was lifted at noon.
CONFIRMS LARGE-SCALE SABOTAGE EFFORTS
The incident was the second in two days involving terrorists from Lebanon. Two terrorists were killed yesterday by an Israeli patrol only a few hundred yards from the Lebanese border. The two incidents confirmed recent indications that terrorists based in Lebanon were about to embark on a large-scale sabotage assault on Israel with the objective of seizing as many hostages as possible.
The terrorists killed yesterday and today were carrying large quantities of ammunition, hand grenades, explosive devices, small arms and Kalachnikof rifles and transistor radios. In addition they carried quantities of pamphlets in Hebrew, English and Arabic containing demands for the release of imprisoned terrorists and detailed instructions as to how their exchange for Israeli hostages was to be effected.
The terrorist pamphlets found yesterday named the ambassadors of France, Switzerland and Rumania as possible go-betweens in the exchange. The leaflets found today contained blank spaces which the terrorists presumably would have filled in with their choice of go-between. Instructions demanded that the diplomats selected were to approach the terrorists wearing no jackets and with a stretched out hand holding their passport. The terrorists demanded not only the release of 20 of their comrades but return of the bodies of the terrorists slain by Israeli forces at Maalot and Nahariya last spring.
AIMS OF THE TERRORISTS
The two soldiers killed today were the first Israeli fatalities since the Nahariya episode in June when a soldier was killed storming a house where a terrorist gang had barricaded itself after murdering a mother and her two children.
Israeli security authorities have been anticipating increased activity by terrorist organizations. They say the terrorists have two aims: to demonstrate that they are active; and to gain political recognition by the U.S. and the United Nations when the Middle East peace conference Is resumed at Geneva.
In response, Israeli authorities have increased security measures along the borders. It was disclosed that in recent weeks a number of terrorists have been captured or killed trying to enter Israeli territory from Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.