TEL AVIV (Jul. 22)
Israeli planes crossed the Suez Canal today to bomb Egyptian artillery, mortar, tank and missile positions, silencing them, for the second time in three days, an Army spokesman said. All planes were reported to have returned safely to base following the raid which came after Israeli positions on the Canal’s east bank were shelled. The spokesman had no comment on a Jordanian allegation that Israeli planes had attacked two El Fatah guerrilla bases in northern Jordan.
Israeli authorities disclosed that great care was taken during the bombing strikes across the Canal to avoid bombing Soviet ships or personnel. The target area included a sector just below Port Said, a seaport where Russian warships are based. An Israeli spokesman said no hits were scored on Russian warships because Israel avoided bombing the dock areas. There were no indications that Soviet personnel were hit. However, Israelis said they could not be certain whether Russian technicians and instructors based at ground missile sites were killed. Two such sites were singled out for heavy bombing by Israeli jets.
On Sunday, Israeli planes bombed ground installations in Egypt for the first time since the June, 1967, Six-Day War. They bombed and strafed Egyptian ground-to-air missile bases, antiaircraft positions and artillery installations between Port Said and Qantara. Israel reported it lost two planes in the attack, while Egypt claimed shooting down 19 planes.
Meanwhile, Gen. Odd Bull, the United Nations chief truce observer, flew to Cairo today to discuss the increase in military activity along the Suez Canal. Gen. Bull was reportedly planning to ask Egypt to restrain its military operations following Sunday’s battle and to discuss a safety agreement for the UN observers stationed along the Canal. UN truce observers reported damage to four observation posts on the Egyptian side of the Canal as a result of the fighting. The damage, they reported, was from Israeli bombs, rockets, mortars and small arms fire. The report listed three Egyptian liaison officers and a civilian injured.