Rachel’s Tomb Hit by Arab Shell; Israeli Chief of Army Operations Reports on Negev Fight

Rachel’s Tomb, hallowed for centuries since its erection in Biblical times, and located near Bethlehem, was hit by a shell and is partly ruined, a Belgian U.N. truce official reported today in Jerusalem following a visit to Bethlehem. He said the shell apparently came from an Arab gun behind the Bethlehem lines and fell short of an Israeli target.

Col. Yigal Yadin, Chief of Army Operations, addressing a news conference here today, declared: “Our main two intentions in the Negev were to open the roads to the settlements and to keep them open whether the Egyptians liked it or not. Now there are two roads open and the remaining Egyptians are in three pockets–in Falujja, Isdud and in the Beer-Sheba Jerusalem region, where Abdullah stepped in, filling a vacuum created by the Egyptian defeat.

“Egyptian casualties number 2,000, plus many more who are among those still hemmed in the three pockets,” Col. Yadin said. He revealed that the “entire frontline Egyptian air force strength has been destroyed” and said that the “Egyptians” proud flagship, the King Farouk, was sunk by the weight of our air force operation. Our air force operation was 50 times greater in the Negev than in any operations previously carried out against Arab capitals.

Referring to the “Ten Plagues” operation, Col. Yadin said that this was undertaken “when we lost patience with the three-month period of semi starvation of the Negev settlements. Just as Moses told Pharoah ‘Let my people go,’ so we told the Egyptians and the United Nations–’Let our people pass.’”

An official communique disclosed today that the vital crossroads town of Heit Djibrin, midway between Majdal and Hebron, has been in Israeli hands for the past week, thus refuting an Egyptian claim made tonight that the Jews attacked the town yesterday and suffered heavy casualties.

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