JERUSALEM (Aug. 5)
Israel Government sources said today that the aerial strike against El Fatah headquarters and training bases near the Jordanian village of Salt yesterday came only after a long series of warnings to the Jordanian Government that Israel would not tolerate continued terrorist raids and sabotage on its territory. The strike was ordered after top level consultations on the political and security implications of such an action, it was learned here.
Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Chaim Bar-Lev reported to the Cabinet today on the results of the air attacks. It is believed that barracks, tents and a large number of vehicles were destroyed. (Amman radio claimed that 23 civilians and five soldiers were killed in the vicinity of Salt and that 76 civilians and six soldiers were wounded. Gen. Bar-Lev said at a press conference yesterday that the Israeli planes did not bomb Salt village and even avoided bombing Jordanian military installations despite antiaircraft fire directed against them.)
Yesterday’s assault, however, did not bring quiet to the Israel-Jordan demarcation line. El Fatah guerrillas fired bazooka shells and automatic weapons at Israeli positions at Neve Ur in the Beisan Valley early this morning, a military spokesman reported. At the same time, a number of mortar shells were fired from the Jordanian side of the border at Israeli units near Yardena. Israeli return fire silenced the attackers. There were no casualties. No Israeli casualties were reported either in yesterdays three-hour artillery and tank fire duel between Israeli and Jordanian forces near the Abdullah Bridge.
In discussing yesterday’s air strike, official sources cited Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s warning to Jordan last Friday that military activity along the border cannot remain one-sided. They noted that Israel has repeatedly complained of the direct and indirect assistance given the terrorists by Jordanian authorities. They pointed out that terrorists are in practical control of large parts of Jordan, set up their own roadblocks and issue identity cards and license plates for vehicles.
(At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council called Monday by Jordan and Israel as a consequence of Sunday’s Israeli aerial attack in Jordan, Mohammed el-Farra, Jordan’s delegate, assailed Israel, calling her action aggressive and indicating that he favored sanctions against Israel.
(Israel’s Ambassador Yosef Tekoah cited past actions conducted by guerrillas against Israel and other military activity which he said Jordan supported across the cease-fire line. He cited recent complaints made by Israel to the UN against such activities, and said Jordan has become the principal base for Arab aggression against Israel.)
(The United States State Department today termed the attack by Israel on Jordan territory “a tragic breach of the cease-fire.” Department spokesman Carl Bartch said that the U.S. has deplored such attacks in the past “and continues to deeply regret them because they are not conducive to peace in the Near East and because of the human tragedy involved.”)