WASHINGTON (Mar. 27)
President Eisenhower discounted today reports of a threatened move by Saudi Arabian troops to deny Israel passage of the Gulf of Akaba and the Strait of Tiran.
The President told his news conference that he did not know just what the movement of these troops meant but that he would doubt that it has any great significance so far as the use of the Gulf of Akaba as an international waterway would be concerned. He noted that the actual passage through which shipping would make its way is much nearer the western (Egyptian) than the Eastern (Saudi Arabian) shore.
Asked to comment on reports of a new Syrian raid on Israel, he said the there has been a long history here of disorder, riots, raids back and forth and different kinds of moves in the war of nerves.
(New Arab hit-and-run attacks occurred yesterday at opposite ends of Israel, according to an announcement in Tel Aviv. One passenger in an automobile was wounded about 30 miles north of Elath, Israel’s southern Negev port, when the war was ambushed from two sides of the road.
Heavy rifle and machinegun fire broke out during the night from Syrian positions east of Lake Huleh aimed at the Dardara settlement. Israelis returned the shots in an exchange which lasted 20 minutes. No Israeli casualties were reported.)
Reports by press associations have placed Saudi Arabian troops just outside the Jordan port of Akaba, at the head of the gulf, preparing a move to close the body of water to Israel shipping. It was reported that the Saudi troops would move into the port as soon as the British evacuate it. The Saudi Arabian Government has declared that the gulf is an Arab waterway and Israel ships would be barred.