TEL AVIV (Sep. 24)
Three heavily armed Palestinian infiltrators were killed by Israel Defense Force soldiers on Monday, in a normally quiet zone on the Israeli-Syrian border patrolled by U.N. troops.
No Israeli casualties were reported in the clash, which took place on the slopes of Mount Hermon.
The dead men were identified as members of Nayef Hawatmeh’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization opposed to peace talks with Israel.
They carried Kalachnikov assault rifles, LAW anti-tank missile-launchers, hand grenades and a pistol with a silencer.
According to Israeli officials, their mission was to stage a “showcase attack” on Israel timed to coincide with the opening Monday of the Palestine National Council meeting in Algiers.
The PNC, the so-called Palestinian parliament-in-exile, is expected to decide whether Palestinians will attend the Middle East peace conference that the United States and Soviet Union are hoping to convene next month.
Defense Minister Moshe Arens said it was not clear whether the intruders came from Lebanon or Syria.
The Democratic Front, which published a map of the terrorists’ alleged route in Beirut newspapers Tuesday, said the men had trained at Ba’albek in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon, which is adjacent to Syria, but that they avoided crossing Syrian soil to enter the border zone.
The zone is patrolled by an Austrian contingent of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon whose assignment is to supervise the 1973 Israel-Syria disengagement agreement, not intercept armed infiltrators.
PRO-ISRAEL SHEIK MISTAKENLY KILLED
The Democratic Front claimed responsibility for an operation in the same area in June, when armed infiltrators managed to break into an IDF outpost, kill the soldier on guard duty and escape.
That incident, in which IDF reserve Sgt. Maj. Ehud Ben-Mordechai died, was the first in the Mount Hermon region since 1973, when Israel and Syria entered their disengagement agreement following the Yom Kippur War.
The IDF, meanwhile, has launched an investigation into the killing of a Druse dignitary Sunday afternoon by Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon, in what appears to have been a case of mistaken identity.
The soldiers, suspecting a car bomb, opened fire on a white Mercedes that continued to approach them after being ordered to pull over.
They discovered that they had killed Sheik Faris Darawi, a leader of the Druse community in the southern Lebanese town of Hatzbiyeh, whose son is an officer in the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army.
Another Druse sheik in the automobile was injured. He was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Haifa.
The IDF expressed its apologies and regrets to family members and to the Druse community. While some Druse leaders were prepared to accept them, there were angry anti-Israel demonstrations Tuesday in Druse areas of Lebanon.