JERUSALEM (Sep. 4)
Two Israeli soldiers died over the weekend of wounds sustained when a lone gunman crossed over the Jordanian border into Israel and ambushed an Israel Defense Force patrol.
The assailant was himself killed in the brief clash Saturday near Kfar Ruppin, in the Beit Shean Valley.
Staff Sgt. David Barzilai, a 25-year-old reservist from Tel Aviv, died at the scene. A native of Brazil who immigrated to Israel with his family in 1972, he was buried Sunday afternoon in the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, with full military honors.
The second soldier, Sgt. Aharon Hannuka, a 28-year-old reservist from Jerusalem, died of his wounds Sunday night at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. He was buried Monday afternoon at the same cemetery.
The attack was the fourth this year involving single infiltrators from Jordan. Two of them were Jordanian soldiers who may have gone berserk.
Saturday’s marauder was evidently a terrorist. The Syrian-backed Tala’at Yacub faction, which opposes Yasir Arafat’s leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, took credit for the attack.
The terrorist, armed with a Kalachnikov assault rifle and a pistol, is believed to have crossed the Jordan River before dawn Saturday.
He lay concealed in thick underbrush about 50 yards inside Israel, waiting for the routine IDF border patrol to pass. The patrol was led by foot soldiers, followed by a command car.
The infiltrator opened fire on the infantrymen, killing one instantly with a bullet in the head and critically wounding another. The driver of the patrol jeep was slightly wounded.
The assailant, wearing civilian clothes, fired methodically, a single shot at a time, indicating that he had been trained as a sniper.
He continued to shoot from a well-concealed position. When his Kalachnikov automatic rifle jammed, he switched to his pistol.
The IDF patrol returned the fire, tended the wounded and summoned reinforcements. The attacker was later killed by a burst of gunfire.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin warned the Jordanians it was their responsibility to prevent Palestinians terrorists from infiltrating into Israel from Jordan. He rejected Jordanian claims that the assailant may have come from the West Bank, instead of across the Jordan River.