JERUSALEM (Jul. 13)
An Israeli paratrooper was killed Wednesday afternoon in a brief skirmish with three Palestinian gunmen just north of the security zone in southern Lebanon. The three gunmen were also killed.
The name and age of the soldier was not immediately disclosed.
An Israel Defense Force spokesman said the clash occurred while an IDF patrol was searching for a Katyusha rocket launcher in the eastern sector of southern Lebanon, just beyond the security zone.
The IDF force subsequently withdrew into the security zone, the spokesman said.
The Itim news agency located the incident near Kaukaba village in southern Lebanon. It said the soldier was seriously wounded in an initial hail of gunfire from the Palestinians, who were hidden in bushes.
An air force helicopter carrying a medical team rescued the soldier, but he died on the way to the hospital.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, speaking at Rosh Ha’ayin Wednesday, said thousands of servicemen are engaged in continuous efforts to keep the northern border area peaceful.
“Their operations sometimes take them across the northern edge of the security zone, and there is sometimes a bitter price to pay in this relentless defensive effort,” he said.