Suicide Bomber Targets Israeli Patrol With AM-Israel-Attacks, Bjt
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A woman suicide bomber detonated a handbag packed with explosives near an Israeli patrol in southern Lebanon Sunday. A pro-Syrian group said 12 Israeli soldiers also died but Israel said only two were injured.
The blast occurred hours after an Israeli gunboat sank a dinghy off southern Lebanon, killing five guerrillas, the Israeli army said in Jerusalem. A Palestinian group said four of the guerrillas were missing but that one managed to swim ashore. It said the guerrillas had planned a raid in Israel.
The escalating violence sharpened fears that southern Lebanon is becoming a flashpoint as President Elias Hrawi tries to assert government authority and end Lebanon’s 15-year-old civil war.
The government has no troops in southern Lebanon, where Israel controls a self-designated 440-square-mile security zone. But Hrawi’s government has said it will seek to end Israel’s occupation once it completes plans to get Moslem and Christian militias out of Beirut.
Communiques issued by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party identified the woman as Fadwa Hassan Ghanem.
They said Ms. Ghanem concealed the bag rigged with 55 pounds of TNT under a black chador she wore. The chador is the traditional feminine dress of Shiite Moslem fundamentalists, and covers the woman from head to toe.
Beirut television stations later broadcast a 30-second videotape in which Ms. Ghanem said, ″I am going to give my life for the cause of battling the Zionist enemy out of our land.″
The stations said the poor-quality tape was provided by the group. It showed Ms. Ghanem dressed in camouflage fatigues talking into the camera surrounded by party posters and other paraphernalia.
″I ask all of you to follow my example. Do not shy away from fighting the Zionist usurper,″ she said in a shaky voice.
She then stood up, saluted with her right arm and shouted ″Long Live Syria 3/8″ - her party’s motto.
Ms. Ghanem detonated her bomb-laden handbag as an Israeli patrol of 12 soldiers with two tanks was crossing the road between Arnoun Kfar Tibnit and Arnoun in the Israeli security zone, one communique said.
″All soldiers of the patrol were killed and she was martyred,″ it said.
But an Israeli army spokesman said only two soldiers were on patrol, checking a road near Beaufort castle, when ″a female terrorist ran at them, strapped with an explosive charge. She exploded herself, wounding the two soldiers, one in the neck and one in the feet.″
Beaufort, a crusader castle that was a Palestinian guerrilla stronghold in Israel’s 1982 Lebanon war, is three miles north of the border.
Dr. Mickey Wiener, deputy head of the Rambam Hospital in Haifa where the wounded soldiers were evacuated by helicopter, said they suffered ear injuries from the blast and superficial shrapnel wounds. He described the soldiers’ condition as ″light to moderate.″
The Syrian Social Nationalist Party is part of a coalition of Lebanese leftist and pro-Syrian Palestinian factions engaged in a guerrilla war aimed at dislodging Israel from the border enclave.
The party advocates the creation of a greater Syria by merging Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, pre-Israel Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait and Cyprus.
Ms. Ghanem’s attack was the 23rd suicide bombing in the Israeli security zone since 1985, when Israel carved it out as a buffer against cross-border guerrilla attacks. Eight of the bombings were staged by women.
Meanwhile, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command said Sunday its guerrillas fought a two-hour sea battle with Israeli gunboats overnight off the coastal town of Sadiyat, 12 miles south of Beirut.
A communique read over the Voice of the People radio station said four men were missing and that a fifth managed to swim ashore. Earlier the group had said that three of its fighters were killed.
The Israeli army said in a statement that a navy patrol on routine duty spotted the guerrilla boat. ″Battle ensued whereupon the terrorist boat was destroyed and five terrorists killed,″ it said.