TEL AVIV (Jul. 13)
An Egyptian commando raid on an Israeli military position in the Port Tewfik area last Thursday was the most successful since the Six-Day War, a military spokesman conceded. The toll rose today to seven dead and two wounded. One missing soldier, Corp. David Sabashi, 20, of Lydda, taken prisoner by the Egyptians, died in prison, his captors said today. Heavy damage was inflicted on the Egyptian town of Suez near Port Tewfik following nearly day-long exchanges of artillery, during which one Israeli was injured, the spokesman said.
He reported that two Israeli tanks had been damaged when the Egyptians crossed the Suez Canal at dusk under heavy artillery cover and penetrated beyond the edge of the waterway. Port Tewfik is an Egyptian port and rail-point at the tip of a promontory jutting out from Suez toward the village of El Shatt just across the Canal. The 100-mile-long waterway is a few hundred yards wide at that point.
Egypt claimed that its force killed or wounded 40 Israelis, held the position for an hour, destroyed artillery emplacements and retreated across the canal without suffering any casualties. At the same time, the semi-official Cairo newspaper Al Ahram said in an editorial that the increasing number of assaults were preparations for “larger operations” aimed at breaking the “existing stalemate” and forcing the Israelis to withdraw from Sinai. Al Ahram said that the forays were of “first-rank importance,” giving Egyptian troops combat experience and enabling commanders to improve battlefield tactics.
The Israeli military spokesman said that the Egyptians blanketed the area with an intense artillery barrage which served as a cover for an estimated 100 attackers who crossed the shallow waters by boat and reached a jetty which was difficult to hold because of its narrow width. He said there were several tanks on the jetty and that it was the tanks and not the Israeli position which was the target of the assault. The commandos got close to the tanks and attacked them with bazookas. An Israeli position opened fire on the commandos who re-crossed the Canal by 10 p.m. The raid–fifth in 23 days–came only a few hours after Israel had returned to Egypt the bodies of nine commandos killed in an abortive raid on an Israeli Army post opposite Ismailia on July 7.
VIOLENCE FLARES IN SEVERAL SECTORS OVER WEEKEND
Violence flared at other points throughout the weekend. Five Arab guerrillas were killed in clashes with Israeli Army patrols–three near Mount Hermon in occupied Syria, one in the northern Jordan Valley, and one attempting to cross the Jordan River. No Israelis were reported injured in the encounters. Israelis also escaped injury and there was little damage when several rockets were fired from Jordan at Yotvata, a kibbutz north of Eilat. Three civilians, including a five-year-old boy, were injured when a bazooka rocket exploded near the Banias waterfall at a tourist site in the Syrian Golan Heights. Twenty Arabs were arrested for questioning today after several kilograms of high explosives
A soldier was injured when two grenades were hurled at him near Gaza; bazooka fire was directed at Israeli troops along the Lebanese border; a booby-trap exploded near a soldier in the Beisan area causing severe injuries; Katyusha rockets were fired at the Bet Yossef and Hamadiyeh settlements in the Beisan area, slightly damaging houses; and saboteurs were driven off while attempting to penetrate near the Beisan Valley settlement of Yardena.
Meanwhile, in Damascus the Syrian Government newspaper Al Thawra reported that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leftist splinter group, had decided to join the Palestine Armed Struggle Command. El Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization are also members. (In Paris, the newspaper Le Figaro published an interview with El Fatah leader Yasser Arafat who said his organization would ignore all big power peace efforts.)