Palestinian infiltrators die in ambush on Israeli patrol

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The Independent Online

Two Palestinians and an Israeli soldier died yesterday when Palestinian infiltrators ambushed an Israeli patrol on the Jordanian border.

Two Palestinians and an Israeli soldier died yesterday when Palestinian infiltrators ambushed an Israeli patrol on the Jordanian border.

The Palestinians crossed the river about 10 miles south of the Sea of Galilee into an area leased from Jordan by Israeli farmers. They were thought to have been shot during a heavy exchange of fire immediately after the ambush. Israel and Jordan both denied that Israeli troops had crossed the normally peaceful border.

Arab television stations reported that the Jordanian army sealed the border zone. Israeli sources said they had no reason to think Jordanian frontier guards had connived in the raid.

The ambush followed a holiday weekend in which Israel arrested six Islamic militants on the West Bank and the ceasefire ordered by Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, appeared to be crumbling. Mr Arafat was barred by Israel from attending midnight mass in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. Israeli forces invaded Palestinian-controlled territory on the West Bank on Monday and detained three Hamas and three Islamic Jihad activists near Jenin.

Earlier on Monday, three Palestinian gunmen seriously wounded an Israeli settler driving between the West Bank Arab towns of Tulkarm and Nablus. The settler returned fire, killing one of his assailants.

Israel said its security services had arrested a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who was planning a terror attack in the northern port city of Haifa. Shin Bet,Israel's internal security service, said the attacker had been sent by the same two men responsible for the assassination of Israel's Tourism Minister two months ago.

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