TEL AVIV (Mar. 24)
Israeli officials were infuriated today by a Jordanian demand for the release of three El Fatah prisoners in return for the body of Lt. Shaul Gilboa, an Israeli fighter pilot whose jet was shot down over Jordanian territory last Friday, the evening newspaper Maariv reported. The Jordanian demand was reportedly transmitted through the International Red Cross which Israel had asked to arrange for the return of the pilot’s remains. The newspaper recalled that the Jordanians returned a coffin filled with mud when they said they were returning the body of an Israeli soldier killed in the attack on the El Fatah base at Karamah just a year ago. Maariv said it was not likely that Israel would agree to the Jordanian “blackmail.”
Lt. Gilboa was shot down during an air strike against guerrilla bases in Jordan following a 90-minute artillery duel near the Allenby Bridge. According to an Israeli spokesman, the shooting was started by the Jordanians to cover the escape of a band of saboteurs intercepted by an Israeli patrol. The bodies of two of the saboteurs were found today in the dense vegetation along the river’s west bank. A spokesman said the infiltrators may have suffered more casualties which they dragged back across the river. The Air Force announced today that Lt. Gilboa, who was 23, has been promoted posthumously to the rank of captain.