UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Jul. 11)
Egypt yesterday charged Israel with “unprovoked aggressive action” that caused heavy civilian casualties and severe property damage in Monday’s shelling of the town of Port Suez. In a letter addressed to this month’s president of the Security Council, Twefik Bouattoura of Algeria, the Egyptian deputy permanent representative, Amin Hilmy II, said that 46 persons were killed and 67 were wounded, and that one church, two mosques and one child welfare center were completely destroyed. He said that 25 houses, one hospital and the railway station were partially destroyed.
The shelling he cited occurred during the course of a six-hour artillery and small arms duel between Israeli and Egyptian units on opposite banks of the Suez Canal which, Israeli authorities said, was started by the Egyptians late Monday afternoon. Hours before, an Israeli soldier was killed by an Egyptian sniper. A report by United Nations cease-fire observers along the Suez Canal, made public yesterday, made no attempt to assess blame. But it related that in a variety of separate exchanges. Egyptian troops initiated rifle, machinegun and mortar fire. Sources here in a position to know the facts had the impression that Egypt was responsible for starting the shooting but said that Israeli retaliation was out of proportion to the provocation. (Dr. Mohammed H. el-Zayyat, the chief spokesman for the Egyptian Government, warned in Cairo yesterday that the Israeli shelling of Port Suez invited Egyptian retaliation.)