TEL AVIV (Aug. 4)
Three would-be infiltrators from Jordan were killed in the Jordan Valley early Monday morning as they attempted to penetrate into Israel.
They were detected by an Israel Defense Force unit on routine patrol in the area. Two Israeli soldiers were wounded in the ensuing firefight.
The incident was the third such infiltration attempt from Jordan to occur in as many months.
The infiltrators had crossed the Jordan River during the night. They then hid in the thick reeds and undergrowth between the river and the border fence some five miles southeast of Mehola, which is about 10 miles south of Beit She’an.
Armed with automatic weapons, they opened fire at about 7 a.m. on an IDF patrol that was carrying out a routine inspection of the border area. Two of the soldiers were wounded in the first burst of fire, but they did not sustain serious injuries.
Kibbutzim and settlements in the northern section of the Jordan Valley were put on alert as soon as the clash began. Civilian ambulances from the settlements evacuated the wounded, who were then helicoptered to the Hadassah Hospital at Ein Kerem in Jerusalem.
The exchange of fire lasted a short time before the intruders were shot dead.
The commanding officer of the IDF Central Command, who visited the scene of the clash, acknowledged that Jordanian authorities were trying to prevent infiltration into Israel from their territory. But he added that Jordan was nonetheless responsible for any hostile activities originating there and called on Amman to tighten its control of the border.
Monday’s incident was a replay of other infiltration attempts from Jordan that have taken place in recent months.
In June, two men swam across the Gulf of Aqaba to Eilat and shot and killed a night watchman at a Hebrew University research institute on the outskirts of Eilat. One of the infiltrators was killed and the other wounded and captured.
Last month, infiltrators at E1 Hamma — the point where the borders of Jordan, Syria and Israel meet just south of Lake Kinneret — opened up with rocket fire on settlements in the area and then escaped back into Jordan. There were no Israeli casualties.
Mehola had been the scene of another infiltration attempt last Passover, when two intruders approached the settlement fence but were discovered and shot dead.
IDF Chief of Staff Ehud Barak said that during the latest operation Israeli forces had acted “speedily and correctly.”
He noted that in other operations in recent weeks 27 wanted terrorists had surrendered to Israeli forces and 68 had been captured.