The Israeli army announced Tuesday that 10 of the 415 Palestinians deported into Lebanon Dec. 17 as suspected leaders and activists of militant Muslim groups were expelled by mistake.

"A check carried out by the Israel Defense Forces showed that 10 of the expelled Hamas activists had security-related information against them which indicated hostile activity on their part, but (were) without a legal decision to deport them," said an official army statement. Army officials declined to divulge the names of the 10.It was the first official confirmation of press reports that soldiers had made mistakes in their round-up of the deportees, who Israel says are active in the Hamas Islamic Resistance Movement and the Islamic Jihad organization.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio said officials were considering allowing for the first time Red Cross medical staff and personnel to reach the deportees through Israeli-held territory in Lebanon. The permission would be granted on a one-time basis, provided Lebanese authorities thereafter permitted relief to the deportees, the report said.

Defense Ministry spokesman Oded Ben-Ami was not available for comment.

The deportees remain stranded in a freezing tent camp at Marj al-Zouhour, Lebanon, just beyond Israel's self-declared "security zone" border strip. They were denied permission by the Lebanese army to proceed northward and have remained trapped between the two countries.

Israel expelled the Palestinians after a series of Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacks on security forces culminated in the kidnapping and killing of border police Staff Sgt. Nissim Toledano.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel is demanding the immediate return of those deported by mistake. It said one of those erroneously expelled was Bassam Sayuri, 16, from the West Bank city of Hebron.

United Nations envoy James Jonah met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders Sunday and Monday to discuss the plight of the deportees before proceeding to Lebanon.

Both Israel and Lebanon have thus far refused to allow a resupply of the deportees, each saying the other is responsible for their plight.