TEL AVIV (Dec. 28)
The Israel Defense Force is getting high praise for the swift, efficient way it dealt last Friday night with the first terrorist infiltration of Israel from Jordan in 10 years.
Especially pleased are the residents of Bet Shean township and the surrounding villages and kibbutzim south of the Sea of Galilee, who were alerted to the infiltration minutes after a breach was discovered in the electronic border fence. The alert enabled them to take immediate security measures.
An IDF reserve unit is credited with capturing the three heavily armed infiltrators without loss of life. One of the terrorists was wounded in a brief shoot-out in a cornfield. There were no Israeli casualties.
The hole in the fence was discovered along the banks of the Jordan River, some 650 yards from Kibbutz Maoz Haim. A Bedouin tracker led the IDF patrol to the spot where the infiltrators were hiding.
The terrorists opened fire with automatic rifles and threw five hand grenades at the soldiers before they were overcome. The three were dressed in civilian clothes under which they wore IDF uniforms. Had they managed to evade detection, they could have caused serious damage and casualties.
The terrorists were carrying steel spikes, which they apparently intended to scatter on roadways to halt vehicles that would come under fire. According to military sources, the terrorists are members of the Palestine Liberation Front, which is based in Iraq and headed by Mohammed (Abul) Abbas.
The terrorists entered Jordan from Iraq four days earlier and crossed the country to the Israel border without being halted by Jordanian authorities. Nevertheless, Israeli officials still believe Jordan is doing its best to prevent terrorist acts against Israel from Jordanian soil.
The speedy capture of the terrorists has done much to restore confidence in the IDF. It suffered gravely after a single Palestinian entered Israel from Lebanon by hang glider on the night of Nov. 25 and, even though detected, managed to infiltrate a military base and kill 6 soldiers and wound 7 before he was shot to death.