Israel Captures Kusseima Junction; Can Now Encircle Egyptian Troops

Air defense precautions, including a blackout, were ordered today for the entire country as Egyptian troops, covered by planes, attempted to check the on ward rush of Israel’s military units in the Sinai desert.

Minor Israeli casualties were reported when an Israel convoy was strafed by Egyptian planes which also shot down an Israeli Piper Cub. At the same time, Israel planes attacked Egyptian concentrations and convoys in the Sinai peninsula causing damage to installations and supply dumps. (Speaking in Commons today, Prime Minister Eden said reports had been received that Israel paratroops have been dropped inside Egypt.)

In the course of today’s fighting, the Israeli troops captured Kusseima, a road junction and an important oasis on the Auja-Al Heifer–Nekhal track leading to the Suez Canal. This victory opens possibilities for the Israel units to encircle Egyptian forces in the southern part of the Sinai peninsula as well as Egyptian forces stationed in the upper part of Sinai. Kusseima has a good road leading from el-Arish, the point inside Egypt reached by the Israelis during the 1948 War of Liberation.

The capture of Kusseima followed an Egyptian attack on an Israeli unit near Nachal Oz, in the Gaza strip area. The Arabs later shelled an Israeli settlement. No casualties were reported as a result of this clash.

The Cairo radio broadcast an order by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser proclaiming a general mobilization throughout Egypt. At the same time, it was reported here that Syrian troops and artillery units were digging in this morning along the Syrian-Israel border all the way from Banias, in the northern part of Huleh, to a point south of Lake Tiberias. The Jordanians were likewise seen entrenching and concentrating troops along the northern section of their border with Israel. On the Lebanese-Israeli border all was quiet.

Maj. Gen. E. L. M. Burns, United Nations truce chief, requested an urgent meeting today with Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir after trying to negotiate the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sinai. He later addressed a cease-fire appeal to Israel. Mrs Meir received today the Ambassadors of the Soviet Union, Italy, and Turkey as well as the Rumanian Charge d’Affaires.

International air traffic to and from Israel is functioning normally. The families of United Nations personnel have been advised to leave Israel and arrangements for their evacuation are under way.

The entire Israeli press, with the exception of the Communist newspaper Kol Haam, is behind the government in its Sinai peninsula campaign. The suggestion that the General Zionists and the Herut should be included in the government because they back Premier David Ben Gurion’s action was advanced today by Haaretz, leading Israeli newspaper, which urged the formation of a national Cabinet composed of representatives of all groups, except the Communists.

NEXT STORY