TEL AVIV (Mar. 21)
A Palestinian guerrilla was killed and a Shi’ite gunman captured by the Israeli-allied South Lebanon Army in the southern Lebanon security zone over the weekend.
Three SLA soldiers were also slightly wounded during separate clashes.
Friday night, an SLA patrol spotted a squad of guerrillas near Barasheet village in the western sector of the security zone. The SLA patrol opened fire, killing one gunman and capturing a second man.
The SLA’s Voice of the South radio reported that the slain man was a member of Nayef Ha-watmeh’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, while the captured gunman was a member of the Amal Shi’ite movement.
The two had apparently been planning to plant roadside bombs along routes used by the SLA and the Israeli army. The men were found to be carrying a large quantity of explosives, along with their guns.
Despite the Democratic Front’s apparent involvement in this latest attack, the SLA commander, Gen. Antoine Lehad, described the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah militia as the most powerful terrorist organization in Lebanon and the biggest threat to Israel’s northern border.
Lehad said that “Palestine operations” were on a “low flame.”
In another incident last Friday, SLA troops near Alman village, in the eastern sector of the zone, came under attack, with Amal claiming its men detonated a roadside bomb in the area.
The incident sparked a heavy retaliatory artillery barrage from IDF and SLA gunners against suspected terrorist targets north of the zone.
The attacks against SLA and Israeli positions were said to have been a response to Iran’s call to mark Jerusalem Day, which Iran, following its 1979 Islamic Revolution, declared to be the last Friday of the Moslem month of Ramadan.
Lehad’s remarks about the dangers of Hezbollah and its Iranian masters were made as he addressed Israeli military correspondents during a parade by SLA officers at the Majediyeh base, in the eastern sector of the zone.
“Iran is the base for the (Hezbollah) organization both in terms of ideology and funding, although the Syrians also help in terms of supplying arms and equipment,” Lehad said.
“There is coordination between the Iranians and the Syrians in everything that is connected with Hezbollah.
“Hezbollah is the biggest hostile organization now, with around 2,000 fighters. Hezbollah has support from a part of the (south Lebanon) population, but this support is mainly because Hezbollah fighters have weapons and the force to oblige people to cooperate with them,” he added.