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Army Saves Wayward Paraglider

November 24, 2005|From Reuters

MEISS EL JABAL, Lebanon — Israeli troops exchanged fire with Hezbollah guerrillas Wednesday to provide cover for an Israeli who accidentally drifted into Lebanon on a paraglider.

Hezbollah and Israeli military sources said the civilian on the paraglider took off from the cliffs of the Israeli border town of Menara and was blown across the frontier to land near this Lebanese village.

Witnesses said Hezbollah guerrillas tried to advance toward the landing site to capture him but were thwarted by heavy machinegun fire from the Israeli side of the border.

"The fighters could not reach him because of the heavy firing. The Israeli quickly went back," one villager said.

Israeli troops helped the pilot, who later gave his name as Adam Wechsler, make it back across the border.

"Were it not for the army, I would be in Lebanon right now, and I don't know what would have become of me," Wechsler told reporters in Menara before being taken away in handcuffs by police, who said he may be charged with crossing the border illegally.

The clash came two days after the most violent fighting between the guerrilla group and Israeli forces along the tense border since Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000.

Lebanese sources said Hezbollah's raid Monday, in which four guerrillas were killed and 11 Israelis wounded, was a failed attempt to capture Israeli soldiers in a bid to exchange them for Arab prisoners.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli planes dropped leaflets over Beirut, urging Lebanese citizens to act against Hezbollah.

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