Thousands of Israelis Witness Naval Battle; Egyptian Ship Captured

Tens of thousands of Israelis witnessed a dawn naval engagement, the first of the present hostilities, as Israeli vessels, shore installations and rocket firing jet planes quickly subdued an Egyptian frigate which shelled the Haifa Bay area in the pre-daylight hours this morning.

While men, women and children who had watched the battle cheered themselves hoarse, the frigate Ibrahim Awal struck its colors and ran up a white flag. Shortly thereafter rugs began nudging the former British escort destroyer into port. This first prize of the two-day-old war also brought Israel 250 prisoners, her entire complement. The vessel is of the same class as several frigates which Israel purchased from Britain and can be put to immediate use by the Israel Navy.

Haifa residents were routed out of bed in the blacked out city as the Ibrahim Awal loosed her first salvos. Half ran for air raid shelters, but the remainder crowded onto every available rooftop and remained there until long after the battle was over.

The Egyptian warship came in to within two miles of the shore before opening fire in what appeared to be a desperate attempt to inflict damage on the facilities of Israelis major deepwater port and to terrorize the inhabitants of Israel’s third largest city. Israeli batteries responded within minutes of the first Egyptian shots and the sky was lit up by the crisscrossing flash of shells and the glare of rockets. By daylight, the Israelis had scored hits on the frigate which sealed her fate.

An Israel communique after the engagement revealed that the Egyptian gunners had caused no casualties in Haifa. Nor did they inflict damage on property, according to Israeli spokesman, although the concussion of shots fired by both sides had shattered some windows.

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