Israeli Jets Bomb, Strafe Guerrillas in Mount Hermon Foothills–1st Time Since ’67

Israel jet fighters bombed and strafed guerilla bases in the southern foothills of Mount Hermon on the Syrian-Lebanese border today for the first time since the Six-Day War in a 15-minute strike from which all planes returned safely to base. The area has been the scene of increased forays by guerillas which have brought injuries to three Israeli soldiers and four civilians, officials said. A series of mining incidents, mortar shelling and clashes with patrols culminated in a battle in which four saboteurs were killed.

At the same time, officials reported a 24-hour lull in activities along the Suez Canal which for weeks has been the scene of repeated air and artillery attacks by Egyptians and responses by Israel which has cost Egypt the loss of more than 30 Soviet-made fighters and bombers.

In other incidents, an Israel Army vehicle detonated a mine in the southern Golan Heights but no casualties occurred. Some 20 mortar shells were fired last night at the Masada and Shaar Hagloan settlements in the northern Beisan Valley. The fire was returned and no Israeli casualties were reported. A number of bazooka shells were fired at midnight at a Nahal settlement near the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line. Again no Israeli casualties occurred.

Political sources, evaluating the quiet on the Suez Canal line, suggested that the Egyptians might be preparing a major blow, possibly a naval attack on northern Sinai positions. Another speculation, however, was that the Egyptians may have reviewed their attack policy in the area and decided to reduce military action in view of the damages and casualties suffered from Israeli air and ground blows.

In a related development, political experts in Jerusalem noted with satisfaction that while United States officials have expressed concern over the rising pace of Suez Canal clashes, they had not asked Israel for restraint. The experts suggested that the U.S. may have decided that airstrikes by Israel have been taken in response to the Egyptian policy of military thrusts in continuous violation of the cease-fire agreement. It was reported here that the Suez Canal situation was discussed at a meeting between Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin and Elliot Richardson, Acting Secretary of State, in Washington.

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