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2 Israelis Wounded, One Arab Killed As Israel, Syria Face off on Lebanon

July 19, 1993
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Two Israeli soldiers were wounded and a guerrilla killed during a clash in southern Lebanon over the weekend, as Israel and Syria exchanged harsh warnings about the increasingly tense atmosphere on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin confirmed that the Israel Defense Force had sent reinforcements into the border security zone in southern Lebanon following the deaths of five Israeli soldiers earlier this month.

He said Israel would retaliate for attacks against its soldiers.

At its weekly meeting Sunday, Israel’s Cabinet issued an indirect warning to Lebanon and to Syria, whose deputy foreign minister said over the weekend that any Israeli attack on Lebanon would be regarded by Damascus as an attack on Syria.

The Syrian official said his country accepted responsibility for Lebanon, regarded in Damascus as a protectorate.

In the latest border clash Saturday, guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb inside the security zone near Bint Jbail as an armored IDF patrol passed by.

Gunmen then opened fire on the IDF unit with assault rifles and anti-tank rockets, according to Lebanese security sources.

Responding to the attack, the soldiers opened fire on the gunmen, killing one of them. Other gunmen then returned fire, injured two Israelis and fled.

One of the wounded Israeli soldiers was reported to be in good condition, while the other suffered light to moderate injuries, the IDF spokesman said.

Reacting to the border clashes, the Israeli Cabinet issued a statement Sunday that the IDF was prepared to reinforce its troops in the security zone.

It warned that the IDF was in a position to take action against any attempts to disrupt life in border villages and settlements in Israel or against Israeli forces in the security zone.

Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Gur explained later that “it was not exactly a warning. It was rather a restatement of the situation on the ground.

“We are not ready to allow the situation to degenerate again into a series of clashes and counterclashes. The Syrians should know that we are not prepared to remain without a response to attacks on us,” he said.

But Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, in a cryptic statement on which he would not elaborate, said, “This is much more than just a warning.”

Some media reports hinted that a major military action was in the works.

Later Sunday, Lebanese President Elias Hrawi announced that attacks against the IDF would continue in the security zone until all Israeli forces had left Lebanese territory.

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