Panamanian strongman Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega authorized arms shipments to leftist Sandinista rebels during the Nicaraguan revolution and to guerrillas fighting the U.S.-backed government in El Salvador, a convicted drug smuggler told a Senate panel yesterday.

Floyd Carlton-Cacerez, who became a government witness after his drug conviction, testified that he and another close Noriega associate flew weapons to the Sandinistas from 1977 until Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza was overthrown in 1979. Carlton said that in 1980 Noriega approved new arms shipments to the Salvadoran guerrillas.

The shipments took place when Noriega was chief of Panamanian military intelligence, Carlton said. Current and former U.S. officials have said that in 13 years as intelligence chief and later as Panama's military commander and de facto ruler, Noriega had a close working relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Sen. Alphonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) said Noriega's alleged tie to the arms shipments is a further example of how he played the CIA and leftist movements in Latin America, including the Cubans, against each other.

"He used us more than we ever got from him," D'Amato said, "and we paid a dreadful price."

D'Amato and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on terrorism, narcotics and international terrorism, said the hearings show a definite link between political instability in Latin America and the corrupting influence of Latin America drug traffickers, especially the notorious Medellin Colombian drug cartel.

Last week a federal grand jury in Miami indicted Noriega on charges that he took more than $4.6 million in bribes to convert Panama into a safe haven for the Colombian cartel, a group U.S. investigators say is responsible for most of the cocaine smuggled into the United States.

Carlton, who allegedly served as Noriega's chief link with the cartel and who now participates in the U.S. witness protection program and wore a black hood over his head yesterday, testified that Noriega first agreed in 1982 to provide protection for cartel cocaine shipments through Panama to the United States.

Carlton said Noriega laughed at the cartel's initial bribe offer of $30,000 per shipment. "He told me that if these people thought he was begging, they were wrong," Carlton said. Then, according to Carlton, Noriega allegedly said: "I won't take less than $100,000 for the first shipment, and I want that in advance."

In a related development yesterday, Radio Israel reported that several American Jewish leaders are concerned about the presence in Panama of an Israeli named Michael Harari, who is a close associate of Noriega, according to congressional testimony.

The radio report, broadcast by its Washington-based correspondent, Shimon Schiffer, said Morris Abram, a prominent American Jewish leader, and D'Amato have asked the Israeli government to press Harari to leave Panama.

The report said that Abraham Tamir, director general of the Israeli foreign minister's office, plans to visit Panama this week to urge Harari to leave the country, but that the Israeli ambassador in Washington, Moshe Arad, had attempted to block Tamir's trip. But, according to the report, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres had overruled Arad and authorized Tamir's visit.

Jose I. Blandon, a former top Noriega political adviser, in earlier testimony to the Senate panel, described Harari as a "very interesting character in Panamanian politics."

"He's an Israeli general who retired and worked for 10 years with the Israel intelligence services, and he now works for Noriega," Blandon said. "He trains and directs {Noriega's} own personal guards and negotiated with Noriega in weapons trafficking operations."

Harari's alleged relationship with Noriega also has prompted previous inquiries to Israeli officials from the State Department, a department official said. The official said that Israeli government officials have assured U.S. officials that Harari is a private citizen working on his own.

Blandon testified that Harari also arranged for Noriega to receive protection from Israeli intelligence when he travels to Europe.

Blandon said that on one such trip in 1984, the Israeli intelligence service uncovered an alleged plot by the Colombian drug cartel to assassinate Noriega after the Panamanian military had seized a cartel cocaine processing plant located in Panama.

Blandon and others have testified that the cartel paid Noriega about $5 million to allow it to set up the plant and became upset when it was shut down.

Carlton testified that he was told by a Noriega associate that Noriega was forced to act after U.S. officials learned of the plant and pressured the general to shut it down.

The U.S. indictment in Miami of Noriega last week alleges that Cuban leader Fidel Castro mediated the cartel dispute at a June 1984 meeting in Havana with Noriega.

Blandon said Noriega summoned him to the meeting with Castro, and at Castro's suggestion Noriega agreed to refund the bribe, and take other steps to appease the cartel. Blandon gave the senators copies of photos he said show him and Noriega at the meetings with Castro. Blandon said the Cuban intelligence service gave him the photos.

Ending two days of testimony yesterday, Blandon reaffirmed his Tuesday testimony that Noriega had received CIA and National Security Council "intelligence reports" on the political and personal views of U.S. senators and their aides.

The CIA has denied providing such information to Noriega.

Sen. David L. Boren (D-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, said he has "no reason to believe" Blandon's allegation is true. Boren, who is traveling abroad, said through an aide that he based his statement on information he received from the CIA before Blandon made his allegation. A Boren aide said the intelligence panel is continuing to review Blandon's allegation.

Blandon also testified yesterday that Noriega told him Vice President Bush used Noriega to warn Castro of the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada hours before it took place. Blandon said Noriega asked him to arrange the telephone call to Castro.

Through a spokesman yesterday, Bush called Blandon's claim "absolutely untrue -- hogwash." A Bush aide said a check would be made to determine if any Bush adviser made such a phone call to Noriega.

Noriega cited the alleged Bush call in an interview published by The Washington Post last October.

Staff writers David Hoffman and David B. Ottaway contributed to this report.