Israel Retaliates Against Jordan; Blows Up 40 Jordanian Houses
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Israel Retaliates Against Jordan; Blows Up 40 Jordanian Houses

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Less than 24 hours after three Israeli soldiers were killed and 10 others were injured, when their border patrol car detonated a mine on a road in the Hebron Hills, near the Jordanian border, Israel’s army staged a reprisal raid into Jordan in broad daylight this morning.

In the raid, 40 Jordanian houses were blown up by the Israelis, a Jordanian police station was demolished, one Jordan Arab Legion officer was fatally injured, dying later in an Israeli hospital, two other members of the Arab Legion were captured, 15 Arab Legion trucks carrying reinforcements were burned, and a Jordanian plane was downed when Jordan sent aircraft into the air to fight the Israelis. Israel lost one soldier, an army major, who was killed while leading his troops, and 10 Israelis were wounded in the action.

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, joined by Israel’s chief of staff, Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, reported on the reprisal to the Cabinet here this afternoon. Mr. Eshkol told the Cabinet:

“This raid, in which 40 houses were blown up by Israeli forces, should demonstrate the fact that quiet must reign on both sides of the borders along their entire lengths.”

Mr. Eshkol referred to the two most recent terrorist raids coming from the Jordanian side — one a month ago, when two Jerusalem apartment buildings suffered mine explosions near the Jordanian border, and the last one, early Friday morning, when the three Israeli soldiers were killed and 10 wounded in the Hebron Hills.

“These two acts of sabotage,” he said, “were perpetrated by infiltrators coming from Jordan. The raid against Jordan was ordered in accord with the Cabinet statement, made in the Knesset (Parliament) a month ago, and approved by the Knesset, in which Israel warned that it holds responsible those countries from which or through which perpetrators of such acts come. This is beside the special responsibility of Syria for guiding the attackers and ordering the attacks.”

The mine explosion occurred at dawn Friday, less than a mile south of the Jordanian border, about six miles north of the new Israeli town of Arad. The Israeli soldiers were traveling a dirt road which had been inspected the day before, and found safe for patrol. Suddenly, the patrol car ran over a mine, detonating it. The mine was found to be of the same type that was used by infiltrators from the Syrian border a month ago, in Galilee, when four Israeli soldiers were killed.


Tanks from the site of the Hebron area incident were found leading to the nearby Jordanian border. Israel filed a complaint against the raid immediately with the Jordan-Israeli Mixed Armistice Commission. (A similar complaint on that action was filed in the Security Council of the United Nations last night by Israeli Ambassador Michael S. Comay, who charged Jordan with violating the 1949 Israeli-Jordanian armistice agreement. However, the Israeli complaint did not call for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council.)

A spokesman for the Israeli army issued the following statement today:

“Israeli forces which consisted of half-tracks and armor crossed the border shortly after 6 a.m. and rapidly neared the Village of Samua. When the Jordanians based at the Rudjum Fadoa police station opened fire with Loretta guns against the Israeli forces, Israeli armor returned the fire, silencing them. Fire was also opened (by the Israelis) on a convoy of trucks carrying Arab Legion reinforcements. Fifteen trucks were destroyed. The number of Jordanian casualties has not yet been disclosed but is believed to be high.

“At 7:30, Jordanian Hunter planes appeared over the scene. Israeli jet fighters went up to cover our forces. During the short engagement, one Hunter was shot down and others were put to flight. At 9 a.m., Israeli forces started a withdrawal, which was completed before 10 a.m.”

Lt. Gen. Odd Bull, chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, had called for a cease-fire on the part of both Jordan and Israel, and Israel accepted the cease-fire. (Gen. Bull was in contact during the morning with United Nations Secretary-General U Thant and reported finally that a cease-fire had been accepted by both sides.)


An authoritative Israeli source noted that the raid was in retaliation for 13 attacks against Israel carried out in the area recently from the village of Samua which had been known as a base for infiltrators coming into Israel from Jordan, although the terrorist raids were guided and directed from Syria. “We had to deal with Jordan,” he said, “through which the terrorists passed and in which they found shelter and bases for their activities. We had to deal with these people as if there were no Syria, and we shall deal with Syria as if there were no Jordan.”

“It was the intention of the Israeli Government,” this source continued, “to deter the local Jordanian population from giving shelter to saboteurs. We learned that the same population in the Hebron area did not cooperate even with the Jordanian authorities in their fight against the terrorists. The action was aimed at blowing up houses, after making certain no inhabitants remained. The objective was carried out in both Samua Village and in small villages somewhat to the east of Samua.

“The Israeli forces acted in two columns, one hitting at Samua, the other at the smaller villages. The second column encountered no significant resistance, but the first had to fight its way through the village, and we were under constant fire while carrying out the demolitions. Israel’s action against Jordan,” the source added, “is the death blow to charges of Israeli collusion with Jordan against Syria and other Arab countries.”

Replying to a question on why Israel struck at Jordan when Syria has taken responsibility for all El Fatah activities, a most authoritative source replied this afternoon with a paraphrase of a statement made by David Ben-Gurion during the period of the Mandatory regime in Palestine when the British Government issued its notorious White Paper against Jewish immigration and land sales to Jews: “We shall fight the White Paper as if there were no war with Germany and we shall fight the Germans as if there were no White Paper.”


Meanwhile, the Jordanian Government announced over Radio Amman that all Army leaves have been canceled and the Jordanian troops have been placed on alert status. Leaves for doctors and nurses in Jordan have also been canceled and those already out on leave were recalled to duty.

The Jordanian version of the incident claimed that two Israeli mirage jet fighter planes were shot down and that the Jordanian troops had halted the advance of the Israeli force and had prevented it from completing its mission.

Observers in Israel noted that the Jordanian claim about shooting down the two mirages was presumably based on the fact that the Israeli aircraft jettisoned their duel tanks over Jordanian territory and these were now in Jordanian hands. The Israeli sources stressed that none of its planes were lost.

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