JERUSALEM (Apr. 22)
Officers at one of two Egyptian-operated radar bases deep in southern Jordan that were attacked today by Israeli jet fighter-bombers disputed an Israeli claim that the post, near Mazar, was knocked out. It was reported that the other post at Gebel Guwaissat was damaged. The Israel Government claimed that the attack had destroyed the installations which were sending to Cairo monitored information on Israeli flights southward from Tel Aviv to the Suez Canal.
In another operation, Israeli planes also raided Arab commando bases where there were “concentrations of saboteurs” in northwest Jordan near Irbid and Aijalun. (In a letter to the United Nations Security Council, Jordan’s Ambassador Mohammed H. el-Farra claimed that five civilians were killed and 10 wounded in the north and that five soldiers were killed and 20 wounded in the south.)
An Israeli pilot, Capt. Naftali Porat, was killed when his plane was hit by ground fire and exploded in mid-air during the assault on the radar posts. The Mazar post was said to be 15 miles from the cease-fire line and 10 miles south of Karak village; the other one was 15 miles north of Maan, a road junction some 35 miles from Israel’s Negev border.
The early-warning system posts were set up to replace Egyptian radar installations in the Sinai which were over-run by Israeli troops in the June, 1967 war. They were under the Egyptian Air Force’s command. A senior Israeli officer said after the air strikes that Israel was capable of frustrating any Egyptian efforts to drive its forces out of the Sinai. He said that a drive onto the peninsula was the principle aim of the stepped-up Egyptian attacks in the Suez zone. The air attack, he said, was one of the options used to reply to the Suez artillery bombardments.
Observers here said that the air raids were possibly the first in a series of offensive operations to check the Egyptian attacks along the canal as well as Arab sabotage activities along the Jordanian frontier. The guerrilla bases hit, a military spokesman said, were used as staging areas for raids on Israel. (In Cairo, a military communique said that Egypt had sent commando patrols across the canal for the third consecutive night on Monday and that five Israelis were killed. The commandos, Cairo Radio said, were operating all along the waterway.)
One guerrilla concentration struck, just southwest of Irbid, was a base where members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were trained, Israelis said. The other was said to be an auxiliary base at Ashtafina, near Aijalun. Israeli and Jordanian forces have fought almost daily in the region for the past few weeks. Iraqi forces based in Jordan were said to have joined Jordanian regulars in recent days for the second time since December in shelling Israeli settlements south of Lake Tiberias.
The boiling situation on the borders and cease-fire lines are regarded in Jerusalem as a continuous effort by the Arabs to create the impression that a war is about to break out anew in order to convince the Big Four to impose a settlement on the region. The Ambassadors of the U.S. Soviet Union, Britain and France held their fifth meeting in New York on Monday and will convene again on April 29. No progress was reported.