TEL AVIV (Jul. 19)
A South Lebanon Army soldier and a Palestinian gunman were killed in a clash in the central sector of the Israeli-controlled security zone in south Lebanon on Friday.
SLA troops were on routine patrol when they came under fire.
A Kalashnikov rifle and a case of ammunition, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and a case of grenades were discovered near the body of the gunman killed in the exchange.
In a statement issued in Beirut, Nayef Hawatmeh’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the incident which, it said, was in retaliation for the Israel Defense Force’s siege of A-Najah University in Nablus.
The IDF had cordoned off the university last week in an effort to capture suspected Palestinian terrorists. The siege ended Friday with six Palestinians being expelled from Israel.
Also on Friday, a roadside bomb was detonated near an SLA patrol near Ishiyeh village in the eastern sector of the zone, but caused neither casualties nor damage.
And Sunday, several shells were fired from north of the zone at SLA positions inside it. SLA gunners replied to the fire.
IDF and SLA troops are said to have readied themselves for a possible escalation of terrorist activities against them before and during U.S. Secretary of States James Baker’s visit to Israel, which began today, as part of an effort to disrupt the Middle East peace process.