HELICOPTER-BORNE Israeli commandos abducted a pro-Iranian guerrilla leader in a raid on his home in Syrian-controlled eastern Lebanon early Saturday.
Israel said it hoped its capture of Mustapha al-Dirani would provide a clue to the whereabouts of an Israeli airman seized in Lebanon nearly eight years ago after his plane was shot down.
The pro-Iranian Hizbullah (Party of God) vowed to step up the war against Israel in response to Mr. Dirani's abduction.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the operation proved that Israel was intent on securing the release of Ron Arad, whose plane was shot down over Lebanon.
Pro-Iranian sources in Lebanon said Dirani handed Mr. Arad over to the Syrians in 1988. Israel says he is held by the Hizbullah group or Iran, but Tehran has denied this. Dirani is the leader of the pro-Iranian Faithful Resistance guerrilla group. He commanded a pro-Syrian guerrilla unit that captured Arad. @HEADBRIEF = More Israeli-PLO strife
ISRAELI Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said the Gaza Strip, sealed off by Israel after Muslim militants killed two Israelis on Friday, would remain closed until the Palestinians set up tight border security.
Mr. Rabin told reporters in Tel Aviv on Saturday that Israel would not continue to implement the autonomy agreement unless Palestinians prove they are capable of establishing order in Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho.
Israel handed over Jericho and most of Gaza to Palestinians this month under an agreement signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization in Cairo. Under the deal, Israel and the PLO agreed to negotiate within five years a permanent settlement for self-rule in the remainder of the West Bank and Gaza.
The PLO said Friday's shooting harmed Palestinian security and the implementation of the self-rule accord. The comment was the first clear signal from the PLO that it was willing to act against Palestinian guerrillas.
Two militant Muslim groups opposed to peace with Israel claimed responsibility for the attack in which gunmen shot dead two Israeli soldiers on the edge of the Gaza Strip before fleeing into the self-rule area. Yesterday, a suspected Palestinian guerrilla was killed when Israeli troops demolished a house in the West Bank with anti-tank rockets and a bulldozer, Israel Radio and security sources said. The radio said two guerrillas were captured in the operation near Hebron. It identified the three as members of the militant Islamic Hamas movement.