TEL AVIV (Apr. 15)
Egyptian artillery resumed shelling Israeli positions across the Suez Canal shortly after noon today. The Egyptians continued firing for 90 minutes after a cease-fire had been arranged by UN observers and kept up sporadic shooting for another half hour after a second cease-fire was to have gone into effect. An Israeli military spokesman said the Egyptian artillery concentrated on the Port Tewfik area and later spread to the Bitter Lakes section and Kantara near the canal’s northern entrance. Israeli forces returned the fire but honored the cease-fire call of the UN until Egyptian actions forced them to resume shooting, the spokesman said. There were no Israeli casualties today.
Israeli and Jordanian forces fought two artillery duels around Ashdod Yaacov and Neve Urr in the Beisan Valley today. Israeli gunners scored direct hits on a Jordanian munitions truck and a recoilless gun position, both of which were seen to explode. The shooting began when Jordanians fired at an Israeli patrol near Ashdot Yaacov and at a tractor working the fields of Neve Urr. One Israeli border patrolman suffered slight injuries.
Saboteurs from Lebanon blew up a small bridge near the Yiftah settlement in Upper Galilee, about two miles from the Lebanese border. The sabotage act was the fourth in the area in recent days attributed to infiltrators from Lebanon. Israeli officials said the increased activity indicated that Lebanese authorities have relaxed surveillance of their own borders and are permitting saboteurs a freer hand.
Israel’s casualties in yesterday’s artillery battle along the Suez Canal mounted to two killed and two wounded. A military spokesman announced today that Private Israel Blai, of Kibbutz Hachoshrim, died of wounds. The other fatality announced yesterday was Lt. Omri Tachower, of Kibbutz Gvaram. Military sources disclosed that six Egyptian MIGs and four Israeli jets were involved in yesterday’s aerial dogfight over the Suez Canal in which one of the Soviet-built Mig-21s was shot down. Its pilot was seen bailing out as the plane crashed on Egyptian territory. Israeli gunners were reported yesterday to have scored direct hits on Egyptian artillery positions, vehicles and bunkers and to have inflicted significant casualties.
Qualified observers regard the Suez battles, which have continued for a week and have been started by the Egyptians, as having the political and propagandistic aim of trying to convince the Big Four that a Mideast war is imminent and that they must step in to prevent it. What the Arabs seem to want, the sources said, is an “imposed settlement,” which Israel opposes on the grounds that peace must be negotiated and contracted directly with her Arab foes. Any settlement forced on Israel is seen as probably involving a sacrifice in some form of the political cards it holds in its quest for security.