TEL AVIV (May. 28)
An Israel Defense Force soldier was killed and two others were wounded when their convoy was ambushed in the southern Lebanon security zone Wednesday night.
The ambush occurred near Arnoun village on the northern edge of the zone, not far from the Israeli town of Metulla in Upper Galilee.
Staff Sgt. Yisrael Ma’atouf, 21, from Moshav Gimzo, near Lod, was killed by light weapons fire and a rocket-propelled grenade.
The wounded are Sgt. Maj. Haim Manis, a tank-transport driver, and Cpl. Tamir Mazari. They were evacuated by helicopter to Rambam Hospital in Haifa.
Two groups have claimed credit for the ambush. One is the Syrian Nationalist Party, a militia of pro-Syrian Palestinian socialists. The other is George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
According to the IDF, the ambush party was hidden in a house at the side of a road frequently taken by convoys. IDF tanks promptly pounded the building to rubble, burying three guerrillas inside.
The incident was unconnected to the recent sequence of attacks in the zone by the pro-Iranian Hezbollah and retaliation by the Israeli air force and artillery, the IDF said.
Nevertheless, after the ambush, Israeli artillery laid down a heavy barrage on Lebanese villages north of the security zone known to be occupied by Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, one Hezbollah guerrilla was killed and another was wounded in an encounter with a patrol of the Israeli-allied South Lebanon Army in the security zone Thursday.