JERUSALEM, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Israel plans to return the bodies of three Lebanese Hizbollah gunmen slain in a fierce border clash, in hope of easing tensions with the guerrilla group and Beirut, Israeli security sources said on Thursday. Four gunmen died during a Hizbollah raid on Monday which Lebanese security sources said aimed, but failed, to seize Israeli soldiers who could be traded for Arabs jailed in Israel.

One of the dead was retrieved by the Lebanese but the rest remained on the Israeli side of Ghajar, a divided border town. Eleven Israeli soldiers were wounded in the clashes, the fiercest since the Jewish state withdrew forces from southern Lebanon in 2000 after a 22-year occupation. Israel retaliated for the Hizbollah raid with shelling and air strikes.
Israeli security sources said the Hizbollah gunmen’s bodies were due to be handed over to Lebanon by Friday afternoon at Rosh Haniqra, a border town known to Lebanese as Naqoura.

"There is hope in Israel, which has been communicated to Beirut, that this gesture will help calm down the frontier," an Israeli security source said.

Tensions had been ratcheted up further on Wednesday when an Israeli civilian paraglider pilot was blown across the border by strong winds. The pro-Syrian Hizbollah and Israeli troops exchanged fire as he dashed back to safety. There were no casualties.