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Israeli Officer Killed in Exchanges, Border Quiet After Exchange of Fire

An Israeli Army lieutenant was killed and four other soldiers and four civilians were injured in three days of sharp artillery, tank, and small arms duels between Israeli and Jordanian forces in the Beisan and Jordan Valley sectors of the cease-fire demarcation line, a military spokesman disclosed today. He said the latest casualty, a wounded soldier, occurred last night when Jordanians shelled the Al Hamma area. This morning all was quiet along the border. Repairs were made to damaged buildings and installations in the settlements hit, and Israeli farmers returned to their fields after a night in bomb shelters.

There was no corresponding return observed on the Jordanian side of the line which was devoid of soldiers and civilians. It was estimated in military circles that 25 Jordanian artillery pieces were destroyed by Israeli return fire including long range “long Tom” cannons and 120-millimeter mortars. Jordanians claimed that the Israeli fire destroyed an irrigation canal. A border patrol this morning discovered and dismantled three mines near Kibbutz Manarah on the Israel-Lebanese border. The officer killed by Jordanian fire was identified today as Lt. Eli Rosen of Kibbutz Reshafim. He was hit east of Tel Katzir. Two of the civilian casualties were struck by shrapnel when they emerged from a bomb shelter at Al Hamma for “fresh air.”

The border clashes of recent days followed a familiar pattern, military spokesmen said. The fighting is believed to have been initiated by saboteurs who fired mortars and automatic weapons at Israeli patrols and settlements. When the Israeli units returned the fire, Jordanian regulars provided the guerrillas with covering artillery fire. Israeli units then brought up artillery and tank cannon, which scored direct hits on Jordanian positions. A military spokesman said on Kol Israel radio today that the Manshiyeh police station in Jordan was completely demolished by Israeli fire. The building had been used both as a forward position for saboteurs and as a gun emplacement for Jordanian artillery. Jordanian shells damaged the electric power system at Kibbutz Ashdod Yaacov but it was soon functioning normally after emergency repairs. Several of the settlement’s buildings hit by shells were given new roofs today and shell holes in their walls were plastered over.

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