TEL AVIV (Jul. 2)
An Israel Defense Force patrol killed three Shi’ite guerrillas in the southern Lebanon security zone Monday afternoon.
Two soldiers were slightly wounded in an exchange of fire with the Shi’ites, who were allegedly planning to infiltrate Israel.
The heavily armed guerrillas, identified as members of the pro-Iranian fundamentalist Hezbollah, had taken refuge in a house on the outskirts of Bleida village, in the western part of the security zone.
Their target may have been Kibbutz Malkiya opposite Bleida. The two communities, located a few hundred yards from the border, face each other and have had good relations.
Meanwhile, tank and artillery exchanges began at dawn Tuesday between the Lebanese regular army and units of the Palestine Liberation Organization east of the port city of Sidon.
Heavy battles with high casualties were reported by midday.
The Lebanese regulars, protected by Syria, are attempting to extend the authority of the Beirut government into southern Lebanon for the first time after 16 years of civil war.
The PLO, said to number about 10,000 heavily armed men, evacuated Sidon but refused to hand over weapons.
They massed east of the city to protect their strongholds in the Ein Hilweh and Mieh Mieh refugees camps.
The fighting so far has not involved Israel or its allied South Lebanon Army, which polices the security zone.
The SLA discovered and dismantled a large remote-controlled bomb at a crossroads near the northern edge of the zone Monday. It would have caused high casualties had it exploded.
Many residents of Sidon are fleeing toward the security zone to escape fighting between the Lebanon army and the PLO.
Their abandoned homes are being taken over by Palestinians fleeing the refugee camps, which they expect will become battlegrounds.