An Israeli soldier was shot dead in an ambush after a rare Palestinian infiltration from Jordan, and Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip, the army said Saturday.
An army spokesman announced that an Israeli patrol had been attacked during the night on the usually quiet border with Jordan near Hatzeva, just south of the Dead Sea. A bedouin tracker working with the Israelis spotted footprints near the border, and when the patrol stopped to investigate, it was fired on from front and back in a well-planned ambush, he said.The attackers escaped back across the border into Jordan, the army said. Saturday night Israel radio reported that an unspecified number of attackers had been arrested by the Jordanian army.
The hard line anti-Arafat "Abu Musa" group controlled by Syria claimed responsibility for the raid. It said two of its members launched the attack from a secret base in Jordan, and both were captured.
Unlike Israel's heavily guarded and fortified northern border with Lebanon, most of the Jordanian border, particularly in the south, is protected by a simple barbed wire fence. Rugged, uninhabited mountains mark the Jordanian side, which the Jordanian army has in the past guarded effectively. But Israel has recently been under attack from all sides, primarily by radical Palestinian and Lebanese groups opposed to PLO leader Yasser Arafat's recent acceptance of the existence of an Israeli state.
The deaths of the three Palestinians killed by soldiers in Gaza shattered a relative calm of several weeks that started when the number of Israeli troops was reduced in refugee camps to reduce tension. Military sources said a routine patrol was attacked in the Sheik Radwan district of Gaza City by men throwing stones, cement blocks and iron bars, and was forced to open fire.
But Palestinian sources said the protest was provoked by soldiers putting up posters with a picture of a Palestinian's house destroyed as punishment by the army. "We saw border police putting up posters to make us frustrated and desperate, and we began throwing stones at them to show we are not getting tired," one of the protesters told Reuter News Agency.