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2 Israeli Soldiers Killed and 9 Wounded in Fierce Gun Battle with Terrorists in South Lebanon

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and nine were wounded in a fierce gun battle with terrorist infiltrators who landed by sea in the south Lebanon security zone early Thursday morning. Four terrorists were killed.

The dead Israeli soldiers were identified as Sgt. Major Mansour Rakhel of the El Hed Bedouin tribe in Galilee and Sgt. Guy Bendov of Ramat Efal. The Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by George Habash, took responsibility for the sea-Bourne attack. Their announcement in Damascus said they were joined by the Syrian Nationalist Social Party, a Syrian-backed Lebanese militia which has carried out car bombings in Lebanon.

PLANNED TO ATTACK NAHARIYA

The announcement said the terrorists planned to attack Nahariya, a coastal city north of Haifa to take hostages.

An Israeli military spokesman said a Dabour class Navy patrol boat spotted a motor dinghy at sea just north of the Israel-Lebanon border at 2 a.m. local time and opened fire on it. The terrorists managed to get ashore in the security zone, about a kilometer north of the Rosh Hanikra border checkpoint and took refuge behind rocks.

An Israel Defense Force infantry patrol engaged them in a three-hour grenade and fire-fight. One of the Israeli soldiers was killed instantly and the other died in a hospital. The wounded were hospitalized.

The bodies of the four slain terrorists yielded large quantities of weapons and equipment, the military spokesman said.

Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir used the incident to stress that Israel must direct all of its efforts against the enemy, “not in the quarrel directed against those who fight terrorism.” Shamir, addressing the Yeshiva University convention in Jerusalem, was referring to the bitter controversy gripping Israel over the Shin Bet affair.

Avraham Shalom, former head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security services, has been accused of ordering the deaths of two Arab bus hijackers in custody of security agents on April, 1984 and subsequently engaging in an elaborate cover-up of the case. The government is under orders by the Supreme Court to show cause why it should not launch an investigation into the charges.

Shamir, backed by his Likud party, opposes any inquiry on grounds of State security.

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