TEL AVIV (Nov. 13)
An Israel Defense Force soldier was fatally shot by a teenage Arab infiltrator from Jordan shortly after midnight Tuesday, the third infiltration of Israel from Jordan in three weeks and the second in six days to cause an IDF fatality.
The victim, 1st Sgt. Pinhas Levy, 37, a reservist from Givon, was buried at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon.
His assailant, who was captured, reportedly admitted under questioning that he was a member of the extremist Islamic Jihad.
Giving his age as 17, the assailant said he was trained by Force 17, the special assault unit of Yasir Arafat’s mainstream Palestine Liberation Organization.
Levy, in charge of an IDF outpost in the Jordan Valley, was shot several times at point-blank range while investigating a noise at a perimeter fence, according to a military spokesman. He died before he could be taken to a hospital.
The young gunman who seized Levy’s M-16 rifle was approaching a hut where other soldiers were asleep when he was overpowered by a guard.
GROWING CONCERN IN ISRAEL
In addition to the rifle, he reportedly carried an automatic pistol with extra magazines and a knife. He wore civilian clothing.
The sharp increase of infiltrations across the long-quiescent Jordanian border is a source of growing concern in Israel.
It indicates that King Hussein may be losing control in his own kingdom to Palestinian nationalists influenced by Islamic extremists and by Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
The last incident occurred on Nov. 8, when soldiers clashed north of Jericho with five infiltrators from Jordan armed with pistols and knives. Four of the infiltrators were Jordanian policemen.
An IDF reserve officer and one of the intruders were killed.
The IDF disclosed Monday that three weeks ago, soldiers captured three unarmed Palestinian youths, each about 14, who had crossed from Jordan to avenge the Oct. 8 killings of Arabs during riots on the Temple Mount.
The IDF did not explain why that infiltration was not made public earlier.
Tuesday’s pre-dawn infiltration occurred near the Damya Bridge, which spans the Jordan River.
Because of the topography, the Israeli perimeter fence and electronic surveillance devices are located in places several hundred yards from the reed-lined river bank.
Searchlights at the military post are generally trained on the river and the approaches to the bridge.
The infiltrator reportedly waited 30 hours on the Jordanian side observing Israeli troop movements before he crossed the river concealed by the shadow of the bridge.
Although he acted alone, he had companions who remained in Jordan, the IDF said.
According to published accounts, Sgt. Levy and other soldiers on guard detected noise from the river bank. Levy turned the searchlight in that direction.
The noise turned out to be from the wind. But the light made Levy a target. The infiltrator, who was approaching the IDF post from the rear concealed by underbrush, fired three shots at close range, hitting Levy in the head and chest.
Before he died, Levy was able to alert another soldier that an intruder had entered the camp. A third soldier saw the man but did not open fire for fear of hitting a fellow soldier.
Instead, he felled him with his rifle butt.
Levy, who died before he could receive medical attention, was doing his annual stint of reserve duty, which he might have avoided because of a heart condition.
He had planned to have a medical checkup Monday but postponed it because he did not want to leave the small unit of which he was in charge.