Palestinian guerrillas intended to attack the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv when they were intercepted off the Israeli coast this week, an Israeli official said Friday.

The high-ranking source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said maps seized from the guerrillas indicated they were headed for the densely populated beachfront hotel district of Tel Aviv. The American Embassy is in the district."During the debriefing we conducted . . . it was established that the U.S. Embassy was one of the targets in the vicinity of the hotel district," said the source.

An army spokesman said he was not authorized to comment.

There was no immediate comment from the United States. In condemning the abortive raid Wednesday, the State Department left open the possibility the incident could affect U.S. dialogue with the PLO. That dialogue began after PLO leader Yasser Arafat denounced terrorism in 1988.

Israeli forces in helicopter gunships and patrol boats foiled the attempted raid Wednesday as 16 guerrillas headed for the coast in speedboats. The Palestine Liberation Front, a faction of the PLO, claimed responsibility for the attempted attack.

The day of the incident, Israel's beaches and hotels were crowded with Israelis celebrating the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

Locations circled on maps found in the guerrillas' possession indicated a large Tel Aviv department store as another potential target in addition to the hotel district.