TEL AVIV (Oct. 31)
An explosive-laden fishing boat blew up off the southern Lebanese coast Monday night, injuring an Israeli navy seaman nearby and killing a Palestinian terrorist aboard.
Two other Israeli seamen suffered minor scratches.
The incident appears to have been the first suicide bombing at sea. It emulated the frequent car-bomb attacks on Israeli troops in southern Lebanon in recent years.
In Beirut, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a hard-line Palestine Liberation Organization faction headed by George Habash, claimed credit for the incident Tuesday.
It said one of its units on a mission against Israel had a “major encounter” with a large number of Israeli warships and helicopters.
Residents of Tyre spoke of a “massive blast” that shattered windowpanes.
The navy said one of its Devora-class patrol boats encountered the fishing boat in Lebanese waters opposite the Rashidiya refugee camp, on the coast south of Tyre.
The boat was in an area barred to fishermen and was behaving in a suspicious manner, the navy said. A boarding party sent to investigate was a few yards away from the craft when it exploded.
The wounded seaman was taken by helicopter to Rambam Hospital in Haifa for treatment of an eye injury. Doctors said he would not lose sight in his damaged eye.