TEL AVIV (Mar. 21)
Gen. Chaim Bar-Lev, Israel’s Chief of Staff, reported tonight that the last of Israel’s troops have left the Jordanians east bank area, which they attacked this morning but that the Jordanians had not ceased shooting and that artillery exchanges with Israeli units were continuing. He also reported that the Israeli casualty list had reached 17 killed and 60 injured.
Gen. Bar-Lev also told a press conference that the operation, which began early this morning, was not a reprisal nor a retaliation raid but one which had a single objective — to eliminate centers and members of the El Fatah terrorist organization operating against Israeli targets from Jordanian territory. He said also that Israel had hoped that after the last prior action on Feb. 15, Jordan would take action to check El Fatah incursions but that King Hussein’s regime did nothing. Israel was forced to act and it did, he said.
He also asserted that the purpose of the operation today had been achieved. Three bases of El Fatah — the largest center in Jordan in the Carameh village northeast of Jericho, Saffi and Hirbet Hinzir south of the Dead Sea — were destroyed. He said 150 Fatah members who resisted surrender were killed in action and that others were taken for interrogation. He reported that, in addition to weapons captured in the action, maps and operational plans were found. He stressed that only the terrorists were the objective and that no civilian — and specifically no women or children — were hit, to the best of his knowledge.