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5 Palestinians Infiltrators Dead in Skirmish in Southern Lebanon

March 8, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Five Palestinian infiltrators were killed Wednesday in a skirmish with the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army in the southern Lebanon security zone.

The intruders, believed to belong to Nayef Hawatmeh’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were intercepted near Sahin village in the western sector of the security zone, about 2.5 miles from the Israeli settlement Moshav Zar’it.

They were believed to be on a terrorist mission across the Israeli border when they were engaged by the SLA. The SLA sustained no casualties.

The encounter followed a Katyusha rocket attack on the Upper Galilee panhandle Tuesday morning, which caused no casualties or damage.

It was the first Katyusha attack that fell on Israel since Palestinians in southern Lebanon opened up what was described as a symbolic “second front” in the Persian Gulf war. Other Katyusha rockets fired during the war fell in the southern Lebanon security zone.

In recent days, makeshift rocket-launchers with timing devices have been discovered aimed toward Israel.

One was dismantled an hour before it was set to fire, apparently by elements of the Lebanese regular army, which is trying to establish the Beirut government’s authority in southern Lebanon.

Elias Hrawi, the Syrian-backed president of Lebanon, has said he would not permit the Palestinians or any other groups to launch attacks on Israel from Lebanese soil.

He has appealed to President Bush to force Israel to withdraw from the security zone, which Israel established in southern Lebanon in 1985 to protect towns and settlements in northern Israel from terrorist attacks.

The zone, 50 miles long by six miles deep, is patrolled by Israeli army units along with the SLA, which is trained, supplied and financed by the Israel Defense Force.

Israeli sources say the recent activity in the zone and the discovery of the Katyusha launchers prove its importance to Israel’s security.

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