TEL AVIV (Dec. 30)
Three heavily armed gunmen broke through Israel’s northern border early Thursday morning, only to be killed by Israeli soldiers who rushed to the scene.
At least a dozen Palestinian terrorists have been killed in infiltration attempts since Israel signed its accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization in September. This was the first attack to have breached the fence lining the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Several Palestinian groups opposed to the deal claimed responsibility for the attack, with Fatah Uprising saying its men had stormed Kibbutz Dan and inflicted casualties before they were killed.
According to Israeli sources, the three gunmen crossed the border near the kibbutz, located in the foothills of Mount Hermon.
Israeli troops detected the breach, and located the infiltrators before they had gone more than a few yards.
The gunmen opened fire with shoulder-held rockets and the Israelis returned the fire from about 15 feet away.
The sharp firefight was over within seven minutes. The Israeli paratroopers overcame the infiltrators with a volley of grenades, killing them all. There were no Israeli casualties.
Later in the day, an Israeli soldier was lightly injured in a rocket and mortar attack on the security zone north of the border with Lebanon.
Two Israeli helicopters reportedly struck back north of the zone. One reportedly fired air-to-ground missiles at a vehicle towing a power generator, killing the driver.
The pilots may have thought it was a rocket launcher.
Another helicopter was said to have fired at a three-story building in a village in the zone’s central sector, damaging the building and killing an occupant.
After visiting the site of the predawn infiltration, Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Mordechai, commander of the northern region, said that there was no doubt that the terrorists had planned to attack an Israeli settlement close to the border area.
Towns and settlements in the north had been put on alert as soon as the breach in the border fence was discovered.
Wide sweeps on both sides of the border found no further infiltrators in the area.