Arab Irregulars Strike Twice at Fixed Positions–1st Time Since Six-day War

Arab guerrillas, striking from Syrian and Jordanian bases, tried to storm two fixed Israeli positions during the weekend for the first time since the Six-Day War and were repulsed in sharp clashes in which 15 of the marauders were killed. One Israeli defender was slain in the attacks and a second was killed in all-day Jordanian shelling apparently intended to soften one of the target positions for the assault, a military spokesman reported. Guerrillas have struck against Israeli patrols but not fixed positions in the past.

The first assault was aimed at a position guarding the Elal settlement in the southern Golan Heights. The Israelis were alert and opened fire immediately. Three attackers were killed and the rest of the band retreated, leaving behind Kalatchnikof rifles, hand grenades, explosives and anti-vehicle mines. That assault took place at midnight Friday. About two hours later, an Israeli lookout at an outpost about four miles south of the Damiyah bridge on the Jordan River heard suspicious noises outside the position. Manning his machine gun, he opened fire and immediately heard cries of persons being hit. He continued to shoot until the gun’s magazine was empty and only then did he realize that he had stopped almost single-handedly an attempt to overrun the outpost.

The gunner, David Vardi, 35, a Tel Aviv bank clerk, is a member of the reserve unit holding the position. He was near Meir Segal, a 32-year-old medical orderly who was fatally injured in the previous day’s shelling. Segal did not lose consciousness after he was hit and instructed other soldiers on treating him but he died 15 minutes later. After Vardi’s action, other defenders fired flares which enabled the outpost to attack the marauders who left 12 dead behind. Bloodstains were found later, indicating that some of the surviving guerrillas had been hit.

The raiders were divided into an assault unit and two other units, one assigned to provide cover for the attackers and the other to try to prevent Israeli reinforcement of the target position. The Jordanian Army not only tried to soften up the position in the all-day shelling Friday but also later shelled the Israeli position to provide cover for the retreating attackers. Gen. Moshe Dayan. Chief of Staff Chaim Ber-Lev and Gen. Rehavam Zeevi visited the post yesterday and expressed their satisfaction that a reserve unit, comprised of men all over 30 years of age, had performed so effectively against an organized attack.

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