TEL AVIV (May. 19)
A several-hour long exchange of fire took place along the Auja el Hafir area of the Egyptian-Israel border today. The battle was started when Egyptians opened fire on the Israel settlement of Givat Rachel. There were no Israel casualties reported.
This Egyptian attack came on the heels of an Israel retaliatory raid on a military post along the Gaza strip border in the Kissufim area last midnight. The Israel raid, which was officially announced by a military spokesman here, was a reply to the mining of an Israel patrol vehicle Tuesday, which resulted in three Israel officers killed and two wounded. Earlier Tuesday another patrol in the same area had discovered and dismantled another Egyptian landmine.
The Israel military spokesman said that an Israel force attacked the Egyptian post–the largest in the area–sent its defenders flying in retreat and then blasted it to rubble The Israel force returned to base without having suffered any casualties.
The Egyptians complained to the Israel-Egyptian Mixed Armistice Commission. Today, they refused to attend a meeting of United Nations truce supervisor Maj. Gen. E.L.M. Burns and an Israel and Egyptian military official scheduled to consider Gen. Burns’ proposal for easing Gaza border tension. This mirrored a similar refusal by Israel yesterday to attend such a meeting after the mining of the patrol car.
A statement issued by Gen. Burns from his headquarters in Jerusalem yesterday after the Israelis informed him of their refusal to attend the three-sided conference appealed to Israel to return to the negotiations. Voicing the hope that the talks would be resumed, he said. “Deplorable as the loss of life in such incidents is it would be unfortunate if either party should determine to break off negotiations because of them. Unless the parties try to improve the situation in this way, it is very possible that it will deteriorate still further.”