TEL AVIV (Aug. 1)
An Israeli navy gunboat sank a motorized rubber dinghy off the southern Lebanon coast Wednesday morning, killing its two occupants, who are believed to have been terrorists planning to attack targets in Israel.
A military spokesman said there were no Israeli casualties in the brief encounter, which occurred about 10 miles north of Rosh Hanikra.
A Dabour-class gunboat intercepted the tiny craft, which was on course to Israel, and opened fire after determining it was on a terrorist mission, according to a spokesman for the Israel Defense Force. The dinghy sank without returning the fire.
The spokesman could not say at this time which terrorist organization sent the dinghy.
It was at least the fourth attempt this year by Lebanon-based terrorists to launch seaborne attacks on Israel. All have been repulsed by the navy.
The last previous incident occurred the night of June 23, when a Devora-class navy gunboat sank an armed terrorist craft after a high-speed chase off the Lebanese coast. At least two terrorists were killed.
The most spectacular occurrence was on May 30, when two speedboats outraced navy craft to land armed terrorists on beaches near Tel Aviv packed with a Shavuot holiday crowd.
Four of the terrorists were killed and 12 were captured by Israeli security forces.
Responsibility for that attack was claimed by the Palestine Liberation Front, a terrorist group headed by Mohammed (Abul) Abbas, who is a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Council.
Israel cited that incident as proof that the PLO chief Yasir Arafat’s still engages in terrorist activities despite the public renunciation of terrorism by Arafat in December 1988.
As a result, the U.S. administration suspended its 18-month-old dialogue with the PLO on June 20.