TEL AVIV (Mar. 11)
Six heavily armed infiltrators from Jordan were killed early Monday morning in a running battle with Israel Defense Force soldiers in the Beit She’an Valley.
Three soldiers were wounded, two slightly and one moderately.
The encounter, the second in less than a month with infiltrators from Jordan, began about 1.5 miles southeast of Kibbutz Tirat Zvi.
IDF commanders said it appeared to be an attempt to stage a “showcase attack” on an Israeli settlement to coincide with the visit here of U.S. Secretary of State James Baker.
The intruders penetrated the border security fence under cover of darkness, after crossing the Jordan River on a makeshift rope bridge. They were confronted by an IDF patrol, and a brief exchange of fire ensued, during which three soldiers were wounded.
Reinforcements rushed to the scene engaged the infiltrators in a shooting chase that lasted until dawn, after all six members of the gang had been killed. Jewish settlements and villages in a wide area were put on alert during the battle.
The bearded intruders were armed with Kalachnikov assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and launchers and hand grenades. Each carried a copy of the Koran and scraps of paper with quotations from the Islamic holy book.
Two of the dead men carried certificates of discharge from the Jordanian army. Gen. Yitzhak Mordechai, the IDF commander of the central region, said all six fought “like well-trained soldiers.”
One carried a photograph of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader of Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement in the Gaza Strip, which has taken an aggressive role in the intifada.