-Israeli troops surprised a Palestinian guerrilla squad last night near the Lebanese border, killing all six members in a gun battle in which one Israeli soldier died and six were wounded, the military command announced today.
The clash, near the northern farming community of Zarit, was the second in two days in which small Palestinian commando squads have been wiped out by Israeli patrols. Since the first of the year, Israeli soldiers have killed 17 guerrillas attempting to cross into Israel.
The Israeli Army chief of staff, Rafael Eitan, warned today that hundreds of Palestinian guerrillas are concentrated in southern Lebanon below positions controlled by U.N. peacekeeping forces and that they can be expected to continue infiltration attempts.
Last night's clash, coupled with the bombing today of a civilian bus on the outskirts of Jerusalem, fueled a continuing controversy about redeployment of a Lebanese Army Battlelion into southern Lebanon, which is comtrolled by pro-Israeli Christian militias led by Maj. Saad Haddad. There were no casualities in the bus bombing.
The Lebanese battalion, Haddad claims, is sympathetic to Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization.He says its presence in the south will only increase terrorist infiltration across the Israeli border.
Even before the Lebanese battalion left Beirut today in an attempt to move southward, Hoddad's right-wing milittias started shelling U.N. positions below the Litani River to prevent the redeploument.
U.N. officials in Nakura said the headquaters there was not shelled, although Haddad's followers placed artillery and mortars on high ground overlooking it.
The United Nations said that it expects the Lebanese Army battalion to move into the south and that U.N. troops were sent to escort troops. The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to begin a debate Thursday on the role of the United Nations force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Secretary General Kurt Wadheim is said to be eager to report some progress in positioning the Lebanese Army in the southern sector by then.
The United States, through its delegation at the United Nations and through the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, has been arging Israel to exert influence on Haddad to permit movement of the Lebanese units, which are to attached to five U.N. battalions in southern Lebanon.
Israeli officials woukd not say if they were reponding to the urging. Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan have been meeting on the Lebanese situation.
A Foreign Ministry official said, "We wish, of course, to be cooperative with the attempt to implement in full the Security Council's mandate. We are aware . . . that the secretary general would like to be able to report progress the day after tomorrow."
But, he said, Israel's position remains that nothing should compromise Christain enclaves in southern Labanon or allow more PLO units into the border area.
Israeli Army officials said the sixman Palestinian squad was surprised shortly before midnight by a routine patrol just inside Israel, south of the Lebanese border and about 12 miles east of the Nediterranean. In the ensuing fight, a 22 year-old Israeli sergeant was killed and six other Israelis were wounde, they said.
Weapons found with the bodies of the guerrillas included AK 47 assault rifles and hand grenades. On Sunday, an Israeli Army patrol surprised a similar guerrilla squad along the Jordanian border and killed four Palestinians.
In today's bus explosion near Jerusalem, all passengers were able to run to safely moments before the blast when a 12-year-old boy alerted the driver to a suspicious-looking object. CAPTION: Map, no caption, By Dave Cook - The Washington Post;Picture, Israeli soldiers search the inside of a bus near Jerusalem after a bomb apparently planted by the PLO exploded. UPI