TEL AVIV (Mar. 18)
Israeli and Egyptian artillery and tanks dueled across the Suez Canal for over an hour today in the first exchange of heavy gun fire since last Thursday. Each side blamed the other for starting the action. An Israeli military spokesman said the Egyptians opened fire with artillery at noon following a three-hour exchange of small arms fire south of the Bitter Lake. He said one Israeli soldier was slightly wounded in the exchange that lasted 75 minutes. The shelling was concentrated in the Port Tewfik and El Shat areas near the canal’s southern entrance.
Cairo radio claimed that Israeli gunners opened fire on Port Tewfik and started several fires in the city which were quickly extinguished. The Egyptians said they suffered no casualties but claimed to have “destroyed Israeli equipment and killed their personnel who opened fire.”
A 22-year-old Israeli Army officer was buried in Kibbutz Amir, his Upper Galilee home today, after succumbing to wounds inflicted by an Egyptian sniper along the Suez Canal. Lt. Bezalel Halperin was wounded on March 14, a military spokesman said.