Israel Rejects Egyptian Charge That It Began Artillery Barrage at Port Suez

Israel today rejected an Egyptian charge here that it was responsible for initiating artillery fire in the Port Suez area of the Suez Canal July 8 and said that peace can be advanced only of Cairo rejects the Arab policy adopted last August at Khartoum. In a letter to Tewfik Bouattoura, the Algerian Ambassador to the United Nations who is this month’s Security Council president, Israel’s Ambassador Yosef Tekoah contended that a study of the UN truce observers’ report places responsibility for the incident “and its escalation” on Egypt.

An Israeli soldier was killed by sniper fire early July 8 near Port Tewfik. Egyptian artillery opened up later, Israel said at the time, and Israel heavily shelled Port Suez in retaliation. Egypt contended that Israeli fire killed 46 and wounded 67 persons, as well as destroying a church, two mosques and a child welfare center, in addition to damaging other buildings including a hospital. In his letter to Mr. Bouattoura, Mr. Tekoah said Israel opened fire to silence attacking Egyptian artillery in Suez 40 minutes after the latter began a barrage.

Mr. Tekoah said Egyptian “aggression” has caused suffering and casualties to the area’s civilian population in the past. He said Israel and the Red Cross have deplored the “Egyptian practice of opening fire from artillery positions established in residential areas, and in particular in the vicinity of public institutions such as hospitals and schools. This practice is directly responsible for the civilian casualties.”

The Khartoum formula Mr. Tekoah cited was the Arab summit conference’s decision to reject peace, negotiations and recognition of Israel. Israel asked that the document be circulated as a Security Council document.

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