TEL AVIV (Jul. 3)
A 26-years-old Israel Defense Force reservist was killed Wednesday morning by Palestinian guerrillas who attacked an IDF position on the slopes of Mount Hermon, in the eastern sector of the security zone Israel patrols in southern Lebanon.
The attackers then fled toward Syrian lines.
The soldier was identified as Sgt. Maj. Ehud Ben-Mordechai, a married man with one son.
The Palestinians reportedly approached the Israeli outpost through Syrian positions in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon.
They launched a surprise attack with small arms and rockets. When Israeli soldiers returned the fire, they fled across the rocky terrain.
The fatality was the first suffered by the IDF since guerrilla and terrorist bands began retreating toward the southern Lebanon security zone last month under pressure from the advancing Lebanese regular army.
The Lebanese regulars, protected by Syria, are attempting to disarm all factional militias and terrorist gangs in southern Lebanon to restore the authority of the Beirut government after 16 years of civil war.
The have engaged in full-scale battles with heavily armed units of the Palestine Liberation Organization around Sidon near the western end of the security zone.
Mount Hermon is at the eastern end of the 6-mile-wide buffer zone that extends some 50 miles along the Israeli-Lebanese border.
GOVERNMENT FORCES PREVAILING
Israeli soldiers killed two more fighters in the western sector Tuesday and wounded a third, while suffering no casualties.
On Monday, an IDF patrol killed three members of the Shi’ite fundamentalist Hezbollah militia at the western end of the security zone. Two soldiers were wounded slightly in that encounter.
The Lebanese Defense Ministry in Beirut claimed Wednesday that government forces have prevailed against the PLO in fighting around the Ein Hilweh and Mieh Mieh refugee camps east of Sidon and neighboring villages.
But intermittent tank and artillery fire continued during the night and heavy exchanges erupted Wednesday morning, resulting in casualties on both sides, Israeli sources reported.
On Tuesday, the IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the IDF would continue to operate inside the security zone and north of it as required.
He said the IDF would also operate against Syrian forces if they attempt to extend their positions south of the unofficial “red lie” separating them from the IDF.