JERUSALEM — Israel, defying repeated appeals from the United States and a resolution of the U.N. Security Council, on Wednesday expelled four Palestinians accused of masterminding demonstrations against Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The four Palestinians were flown in an army helicopter from a prison at Nablus to Israel's self-proclaimed security zone inside Lebanon. From there, they were taken by truck to a village north of Hasbaya, where, Israel Radio said, they were released to an unidentified "group of waiting men." It said the four men offered no resistance.
Once inside Lebanon, the four Palestinians were briefly handed over to Syrian forces in the Bekaa Valley. However, wire services, citing eyewitnesses, said the four men were later handed over to the Lebanese army and were spending the night at a Lebanese army camp near the Israeli border.
It was not immediately known where the four men will go next. Syria, like Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, had announced that it would not accept any Palestinians deported by Israel.
The Israeli action drew immediate protests from abroad. The International Committee of the Red Cross, in a statement issued in Geneva, called Israel's action "a grave violation" of the 1949 Geneva Convention on treatment of civilians in a war zone and said that "the forcible transfer of groups or individuals from the occupied territories is forbidden by international humanitarian law."
The response from the United States was more muted. In Washington, State Department spokesman Charles Redman said of the expulsions, "That's an action we deeply regret." He said Washington will continue to discuss such expulsions with Israel, but he offered no further comment.
That was interpreted as a sign that the Reagan Administration, which had repeatedly argued that the deportations were illegal and would incite further unrest, does not wish to further antagonize Israel.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said: "We oppose the process of deportations and we believe these means will increase tension."
U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar expressed "deep regret" at the move, and the Security Council scheduled a public debate on the issue for today. On Jan. 5, the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on Israel to "refrain" from exiling Palestinians living in the occupied territories.
Israeli defended its right to expel the four. An army spokesman said those expelled were West Bank Palestinians and "among the leaders of the instigators and organizers of the disturbances."
Meanwhile, Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators in at least four places in the occupied territories, killing two people, including a 10-year-old boy, and wounding three others as army reinforcements and tightened security measures failed to curb the unrest.
And a meeting of senior Israeli government ministers, called to explore means of restoring order, reportedly degenerated into a shouting match between Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of the centrist Labor Alignment and Minister of Industry and Commerce Ariel Sharon of the rightist Likud Bloc.
According to Israel Radio, Peres accused Sharon of provoking Palestinians by moving ostentatiously last month into an apartment in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's walled Old City. Sharon, the broadcast said, shot back that he had acted to prevent Peres from ceding East Jerusalem to Jordan. It said the two men called each other a liar.
The tension reflects the fact that the unprecedented wave of violence in the occupied territories, which began on Dec. 9, is more widespread and persistent than officials had thought.
The disturbances appeared to be subsiding in late December, when 11 days passed without any shooting deaths except for a man who died from wounds received earlier in the month. But then the government announced plans to expel nine Palestinians, and on the same day an Israeli paratrooper killed a woman near Jerusalem, apparently by accident.
The two Palestinians shot to death Wednesday brought to 13 the number killed by Israeli gunfire in the last 10 days and to 35 the total since the unrest began.
An army spokesman said that Hassan Mustafa Muali, 19, was killed in the village of Kafr Nama, about six miles northwest of Ramallah, on the West Bank, when an army unit on patrol was surrounded and attacked by a crowd throwing stones. The soldiers tried unsuccessfully to disperse the demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets, the spokesman said.
An unidentified boy of 13 was seriously wounded in the chest in a second West Bank shooting incident, the army said.
In the Gaza Strip, U.N. officials said a 10-year-old boy from Jabaliya was shot and killed. He was dead on arrival at a U.N. clinic. A second resident was wounded, the officials said.