JERUSALEM (Dec. 3)
Col. Bennett de Ridder, Acting United Nations Truce Chief in Palestine, today issued a new cease-fire order to Israel and Jordan whose forces this morning engaged in a two-and-one-half-hour battle. The cease-fire order was to be effective 5:00 P.M. local time and both forces were instructed to withdraw to earlier positions astride the Elath road, leaving a demilitarized zone between them.
Israel immediately accepted the cease-fire order, but refused to withdraw its forces from the disputed area. A military spokesman declared that Israel will continue to use the road and will not fire on the Arabs unless they molest traffic. This information was transmitted to the U.N. by the Israel representative on the mixed armistice commission, to whom the original cease-fire order was handed. He also agreed to attend an emergency meeting of the armistice commission tomorrow.
(A report in New York from Amman said that Jordan had also accepted the cease-fire order. Another report from Amman, by the Reuter news agency, said that the Jordan Cabinet resigned today.)
Today’s clash resulted from a Jordan move last Wednesday when an Arab Legion armored column erected a roadblock on the main motor road through the Negev. An Israel supply convoy, escorted by military forces in armored vehicles en route to Elath on the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, was forced to halt at the roadblock.
For several days the impasse remained unbroken while the Israelis awaited action by U.N. headquarters here to which the Jews had complained. On Saturday morning Col. de Ridder flew to Amman to consult with Jordan military leaders including British General John B. Glubb, commander of the Arab Legion. The Jordanians agreed to leave the matter to a mixed commission of experts, but refused to withdraw their forces pending a decision. The Israelis, meanwhile, found it almost impossible to obtain a meeting with Col. de Ridder.
Yesterday, a portion of the Israel column took to the desert wastes from the road and circumvented the Arab roadblock, which was located about 50 miles north of Elath. However, they found a second mass of Jordan armor and a block at a point farther south.
ISRAELIS DISMANTLE JORDAN ROADBLOCKS
An official Israel Army spokesman today revealed that last night at 5:30 local time an Israel note was handed the Jordan commander at the northernmost roadblock informing him that in a half-hour the Israelis would begin dismantling the road-block and if the Arabs opened fire they would be held accountable for a breach of the peace. At 6:00 P.M., promptly, the roadblock was dismantled. The Arabs made no move.
This morning the Arabs re-erected the roadblock and the Jews dismantled it. The Jordanians opened fire at 8:45 A.M., wounding two Israelis. The Jews replied, setting one Jordan armored vehicle afire. Shortly after 11:00 A.M. the mortars and cannon ceased firing and the Arabs withdrew a short distance.