JERUSALEM (Oct. 30)
Egyptian troops continued today to hold “a line in depth” in Israel territory within the Nitzana–El Auja–demilitarized zone in the southern Negev, an Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman revealed here tonight. He said that the Israel Government, which has been in constant communication with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, had been informed that there had been no results from repeated UN requests to Egypt to evacuate the positions and move its troops back across the international border.
Even as the spokesman made his announcement, the Israel Cabinet was meeting to hear a report from the Army chief, Maj. Gen. Moshe Dayan, on the situation along the border where Egyptian raids last week had brought a swift and deadly retaliatory action by Israel troops at Kuntilla, an Egyptian army staging point five miles south of the border, and where Egyptian troops twice this week-end made unsuccessful infantry and mortar forays against Nirim, a settlement opposite the Gaza strip which held out against the might of the Egyptian army in the war of 1948. The Cabinet named Generals Yaacov Dori and Yigal Yadin, former Chiefs of Staff of the Israel Army, to head the special fund set up to receive contributions for the purchase of arms for the Israel forces.
In other developments this week-end, the General Zionist Party decided that, in view of the crisis facing the country, it would reconsider the possibility of joining in a broad national coalition government; and Mapai Party chairman Meir Argov, who also heads the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, speaking at a political rally in Tel Aviv, called for a “defense immigration” of 100,000 Jewish youths from communities abroad to help defend the Jewish State.
In the blow at Kuntilla, characterized by Israel sources as “the sternest warning to Egypt that Israel means business,” the Israelis captured the camp after a fierce 25-minute battle in which a number of Egyptian machinegun nests were quieted by grenade and rifle fire, culminating in room-by-room encounters. The Egyptians lost 10 men killed and 29, including seven wounded, prisoners. The Israelis suffered one dead in the attack, and two more who died in a hospital from wounds. The operation was carried out in company strength, with the Israel troops marching a total of 25 miles to and from the scene of the attack.
Announcing the raid, an Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the purpose of the action was to “emphasize what should have been clear to Egypt–that their attacks on Israel territory will be met by counter-attacks. If they leave us alone, we will leave them alone. If they want us to leave them alone, let them leave us alone.” The raid followed an Egyptian attack at an Israel police checkpoint at Beeryotayim last week, in which one Israeli was killed, several wounded and a number dragged off as prisoners. After this, the Egyptians took up positions in the demilitarized zone and fired on Israelis and UN observers indiscriminately, refusing to leave Israel soil.
NITZANA CONTROLS INVASION ROUTE INTO ISRAEL
Israel sources charged that the Egyptians have concentrated some 2,000 men, in five companies, in the Nitzana demilitarized zone. Nitzana is of top military importance because it lies astride the only route that can be used by motorized forces to push toward Beersheba and Tel Aviv, and Egyptian forces could be supplied directly from Suez Canal towns in the event of a full scale attack on Israel.
Meanwhile, a letter from Col. Robert Hommel, acting head of the UN truce organization, reminding Israel of a promise to Maj. Gen. E. L.M. Burns to make every effort to maintain the peace in the demilitarized zones, was answered sharply by Dr. Walter Eytan, director of the Israel Foreign Ministry. In an implied rebuke to the UN, Dr. Eytan said he found it “difficult to understand that in both the United Nations press release and your letter, you find it advisable to gloss over the cardinal fact that this undertaking was unilaterally broken by Egypt in her unprovoked attack on an Israel police check post early in the morning of October 26th.” He noted that the Egyptians were still continuing to provoke new incidents in the area.