TEL AVIV (Jul. 9)
Israel and Egypt gave conflicting accounts today of fighting along the Suez Canal and in the waters south of it. An Israeli spokesman said a helicopter braved Egyptian fire to rescue an injured soldier from an Israel Navy patrol boat that had come under fire from Egyptian shore batteries in the Gulf of Suez yesterday. According to the Israeli spokesman, the boat was on routine duty in Israel-held waters when Egyptian artillery opened fire. Israeli guns on the east bank of the Canal returned the fire and a helicopter summoned by the boat successfully evacuated the injured man who was hospitalized. The Israelis said the patrol craft then resumed its mission.
But according to Cairo, the rescue helicopter was shot down and one patrol boat was destroyed by Egyptian gunners who damaged another. The Egyptians claimed both craft had intruded into their territorial waters.
Israeli reports confirmed that a second Egyptian commando force landed on the east bank of the Suez Canal yesterday after an earlier force was driven off leaving nine Egyptian dead behind. An Israeli spokesman said the second attackers included two men in rubber “frogmen” outfits. They crossed the Canal in rubber boats under artillery cover as Israeli squads were removing the bodies of the nine slain Egyptians. The spokesman said senior Israeli Army officers were on the scene at the time.
Cairo, which claimed yesterday that its raid on an Israeli position opposite Ismailia left 30 Israeli dead, asserted today that a second “patrol” had crossed the waterway during the height of the battle and destroyed an Israeli rocket-launching site. The patrol was said to have suffered four casualties. Earlier Egypt admitted losing five men, killed or wounded, in the main commando assault. The overall figure coincided with Israel’s claim that nine Egyptians were killed.
Two Israeli soldiers were wounded today when a patrol was attacked with bazooka and small arms fire near Umm Sidra pass in the Jordan Valley. A saboteur was killed yesterday when he attacked an Israeli patrol in the northern Golan Heights.
Saboteurs ambushed an Israeli Army vehicle on the main road in the Golan Heights last night. The occupants were not injured and returned the fire. The saboteurs escaped in the direction of the Syrian border two miles away. An Israeli security agent and two soldiers with him were wounded yesterday while on patrol in the Gaza Strip. The area was searched for the attackers. Several mortar shells were fired this morning at Kfar Ruppin in the Beisan Valley. No casualties were reported.