TEL AVIV (Feb. 24)
Israeli armored units and aircraft engaged Jordanian ground forces yesterday in a battle in the Jordanian wilderness south of the Dead Sea which developed when Jordanian regulars provided covering fire for a band of escaping Arab saboteurs. A military spokesman also announced today that three Arab saboteurs were killed last night in two encounters with Israeli patrols in the southern Golan Heights. Three saboteurs were killed in the same region on Friday.
An encounter with saboteurs in the Araba desert in the eastern Negev escalated when Jordanian troops provided supporting fire, the first such instance in several months. Israeli planes struck the police station at Gharandal, three miles inside the Jordanian border, which was apparently used as a terrorist base. It was said to have been heavily damaged. One Israeli soldier was slightly injured. Jordanian radio said there were two casualties.
The clash in the Golan Heights occurred less than two miles from the cease-fire line. One of the saboteurs was killed in the first exchange of fire and the other two while fleeing. Israeli forces suffered no casualties. They captured two Kalachnikoff assault rifles and a large quantity of explosives and mines. The dead saboteurs were wearing camouflaged uniforms and commando boots.
Three Israeli soldiers were injured in a mining incident in the Suez Canal area yesterday and an Israeli worker was slightly wounded when Jordanian forces opened fire on a civilian bus travelling from Tiberias to El Hamma in Galilee, a military spokesman reported. Three Arab saboteurs were killed Friday night and two escaped in an encounter with an Israeli patrol near Nahal Golan in the Golan Heights. (The El Hamma in Israel is not the Syrian locale of the same name hit by Israeli jets today.)
The mining incident occurred south of Timsah on the East Bank of the Suez Canal. The civilians bus carrying 50 laborers to work at the mineral baths at El Hamma in preparation for the forthcoming tourist season, was ambushed as it travelled a road alongside the Yarmuk riverbed which is the Israel-Jordan border in the region. Two bazooka shells were fired but missed. The vehicle was peppered with machine-gun bullets as it sped away. Israeli forces arriving on the scene engaged the Jordanians briefly. The bus was the first civilian vehicle attacked along the Yarmuk River road.