TEL AVIV (Apr. 8)
Airborne Israeli troops entered Jordan south of the Dead Sea today in a running battle with a band of El Fatah terrorists who were spotted on Israeli soil near Ein Yahav in the Araba district, a military spokesman announced here. The clash began shortly before noon when helicopter units of the Israel army gave pursuit to the terrorists. The spokesman described the action as a “very limited one” in which “several score” Israeli soldiers took part. No casualties were reported in the action. Three Israeli soldiers were killed just before the fighting started however; when their vehicle struck a mine near the Damiyah Bridge.
(The State Department said today that the United States Government was watching the situation “with concern” but said that it appeared the penetration of Jordanian territory amounted to “hot pursuit” of a terrorist band and had terminated with the withdrawal of the Israeli forces.
(Ambassador Muhammed El-Farrah, the Jordanian envoy, filed a protect against the Israeli action with Yakov Malik of the Soviet Union, President of the United Nations Security Council. He said the Israeli force had attacked four villages. He did not request a Security Council meeting.)
According to the report here, the Israeli forces killed a number of El Fats a marauders and blow up an El Fatah base after seizing documents. Weapons captures included Klachnikov assault guns which are the El Fatah’s favorite arms.
The Jordanian radio in Amman reported that Israeli forces aided by helicopters and fighter plane cover crossed the armistice line south of the Dead Sea. It quoted a Jordanian spokesman as saying that units of the Jordanian Army engaged the Israelis in combat’. The broadcast claimed that the Israelis used armored units but did not specify the size of the force.
Earlier this morning a forty-minute artillery duel was precipitated by Jordanian units in the northern sector of the Jordan Valley, a military spokesman announced. The Jordanian guns opened fire at 10:00 a.m. local time and were answered by Israeli return fire. The exchange lasted until 10:40 a.m. No casualties were reported.
Two more exchanges occurred later in the day. At about 12.50 p.m. local time, Jordanian guns again opened fire in the northern Jordan Valley near Umm Tzutz. Israeli guns returned the fire and silenced the Jordanian positions after about 5 minutes. About an hour later, the Jordanians opened up with mortar fire which was again returned by the Israelis. The latter exchange lasted for 10 minutes. No casualties were reported.