ISRAEL CONFIRMS SECRET SQUAD Associated Press, December 4, 1996 JERUSALEM (AP) -- The Israeli army confirmed Wednesday that an elite commando squad has been tracking Shiite Muslim guerrillas in southern Lebanon for two years. The acknowledgement followed foreign reports that Israeli commandos were deployed behind the lines in southern Lebanon and dozens of Hezbollah guerrillas had been killed in hand-to-hand combat with the unit, known as Egoz. The London newspaper The Observer reported in May that the squad was indirectly responsible for triggering the April shelling of a U.N. base in the southern Lebanese town of Qana in which at least 91 civilians died. Egoz fighters had been scouting the Qana area to spot Hezbollah guerrillas firing rockets at Israel, when, fearing they had been detected, they radioed for help and were ordered to withdraw, the newspaper said. It said army commanders then ordered artillery to shell the area. Egoz, which means "walnut" in Hebrew, was also the name of a well-known Israeli commando unit in the 1960s. In an announcement Wednesday, the Israeli army said Egoz was established two years ago. The unit has been specially trained to combat the guerrilla group Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, the army said. The Israeli army commander for northern Israel and southern Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Amiram Levine, presented the unit to Israeli military correspondents Wednesday. Speaking on Israel radio, Levine said two members of the unit have been killed since it was created. "What is special about this unit is that it concentrates exclusively on the fighting in Lebanon," Levine said. "Consequently, its professional level is much higher. It knows the area much better. It is capable of fighting in hill country, in thick undergrowth and in populated areas. It is also much more familiar with what kind of enemy the Hezbollah is and the way it fights."