TEL AVIV (Jul. 9)
A military spokesman said today that the Egyptian town of Port Suez, on the west bank of the Suez Canal, was hard hit by Israeli return fire during an artillery duel precipitated by Egyptian forces yesterday. The spokesman said that huge fires and smoke were seen rising from the town, although the adjacent oil refineries were not hit. An Egyptian spokesman in Cairo said today the Arbayin quarter of Port Suez was hit by Israeli shelling and claimed that 39 civilians were killed. The Egyptians also claimed that Israeli forces suffered heavy casualties and damage.
The Suez clash, the first in recent weeks, began with a single sniper’s bullet which mortally wounded an Israeli soldier near Port Tewfik yesterday morning. Late in the afternoon, Egyptian artillery began shelling Israeli positions on the east bank of the canal, starting an artillery clash that lasted six hours. An Israeli military spokesman said that one Israeli soldier was slightly wounded. He said that the Egyptians waited until late afternoon to begin their artillery barrage so that the Israelis would be blinded by the setting sun.
The spokesman also said that two anti-vehicle mines were discovered by border police early today on a track east of Neve Urr in the Beisan Valley. He said that while the mines were being dismantled, Jordanian units opened fire on an Israel patrol. Israeli forces returned the fire. There were no Israeli casualties.