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Israel Will Punish 9 Over Hang Glider Attack

December 22, 1987|United Press International

JERUSALEM — Three army officers and six enlisted men will be punished for allowing an Arab guerrilla flying a hang glider to attack an army base in northern Israel last month, killing six soldiers, military officials said Monday.

Gen. Dan Shomron, the army chief of staff, ordered the courts-martial, dishonorable discharges and other disciplinary measures recommended by an investigator studying security lapses on what has become known as "the Night of the Glider."

On Nov. 25, a lone Arab guerrilla sailed over the border from Lebanon on a motorized hang glider, sneaked inside an army base and went on a shooting spree, killing six soldiers and wounding seven others before he was gunned down by one of the wounded soldiers.

The attack stunned Israelis, and Shomron appointed Maj. Gen. Matan Vilnai to investigate the incident.

Courts-Martial Recommended

Vilnai recommended that the officer on duty at the base and the guard at the front gate on the night of the attack be court-martialed.

In addition, he called for the dismissal of an officer and three noncommissioned officers for "not meeting reasonable standards under fire." Vilnai also recommended reprimands for another officer and two other soldiers "whose behavior was found to be deficient."

Shomron accepted the recommendations, a military spokesman said.

The military said that despite advance warnings of infiltrations, soldiers at the base failed to go on alert. The guard at the gate apparently withdrew without firing a shot, violating regulations by not confronting the guerrilla, officials said.

The announcement of the disciplinary measures Monday followed an initial military shake-up in which a brigade commander was removed from his post.

Vilnai recommended that "the lessons of the incident be implemented in the appropriate training frameworks." The military declined comment on what type of training might be involved.

Vilnai's inquiry also recognized the "exemplary" behavior of two soldiers--one who "engaged in an exchange of fire with the terrorist and killed him" and a medic who rushed to treat the wounded, disregarding his own wounds until he collapsed.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a Syrian-based splinter group of the Palestine Liberation Organization, claimed responsibility for the raid--the bloodiest attack inside Israel since 1978.

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