TEL AVIV (Sep. 10)
Israeli jets returned to Egypt’s Gulf of Suez coast today, the scene of a massive 10-hour surprise raid Tuesday, to bomb and strafe Egyptian Army vehicles and troops. A military spokesman here termed the new raid a reply to “further Egyptian cease-fire violations along the Suez Canal this morning.” He did not describe the new alleged violations or the size of the attacking force. The jets destroyed Egyptian vehicles near Abu Darag and Ras Zafrana today. Both areas were main targets hit in Tuesday’s coordinated air-sea and land assault.
No casualty figures were given for either side here today, but the first raid, Israel said, left between 100-150 Egyptians dead and a wide swath of destroyed Egyptian military positions, radar sites, missile bases, armored personnel carriers, tanks and other vehicles.
Today’s air operation apparently gave substance to Defense Minister Gen. Moshe Dayan’s warning yesterday that further blows could be expected.
(Lt. Gen. Odd Bull, chief of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization at the Canal, was in Cairo yesterday and was scheduled to visit observers’ positions along the waterway today. The location of the Israeli raids do not fall within the competence of the observers whose duties are confined to the Canal, where Israeli and Egyptian forces confrontation other directly.)
GEN. BAR-LEV TELLS TROOPS, NATION THAT ENEMY WAS HELPLESS
Explaining to the nation that yesterday’s operation “was aimed at driving home to the Egyptian authorities and other Arab states that aggression cannot fail to evoke appropriate reaction,” Premier Golda Meir said that during August, Egypt violated the cease-fire more than 500 times. These violations, she said, included opening fire, shelling, sabotage and mining activities.
Mrs. Meir reiterated that “in the absence of peace, we are ready and willing to comply strictly with the cease-fire. The only condition is reciprocity. This applies to Egypt as to all neighboring Arab states.” She said that “Egypt not only flagrantly violates the cease-fire day in and day out, but the Egyptian President (Gamal Abdel Nasser) has proclaimed that he does not recognize the very existence of the cease-fire and continuously acts accordingly.”
In the past week Israeli forces at the Canal have lost 13 men killed and 12 wounded. They are bombed daily by Egyptian gun batteries.
Gen. Haim Bar-Lev, Commander-in-Chief of Israel’s armed forces, in a broadcast on the Army Radio last night, told his forces–and the nation and Egyptians who were listening–“the attack was aimed at explaining to (Egypt) and showing them and making them realize that in the war of attrition, they are bound to wear themselves down first.” Gen. Bar-Lev said, “The Egyptian Army proved its complete helplessness. It simply did not succeed in preventing, disturbing or intervening–not in the air, nor on the ground, nor in the sea.”
Hundreds of men and vehicles–tanks and armored infantry–were ferried across the 20-mile-wide Gulf and sped down the coastal road unopposed, They landed at El Hafayer, 24 miles south of the Port of Suez (at the tip end of Canal) and sped southward to Ras Zafarana, about 54 miles south of the city, before returning to the Israeli-occupied Sinai Peninsula.
Gen. Dayan said in a televised interview last night, that he doubted yesterday’s operation would lead to war, which would require a crossing of the Canal.
‘ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE,” SAYS ‘MAARIV’ REPORTER ON SCENE
Eli Landau, military correspondent for the newspaper Maariv, who accompanied the task force, said the handful of Egyptian defenders were so surprised by the appearance of the Israelis that they ran when the first shots were fired.
“All hell was let loose,” he wrote, “Tanks were firing away at all targets, and the road we followed was lined on both sides with burning vehicles of all descriptions, destroyed buildings and shot-up positions.”
The Egyptians mistook the advancing Israeli tank columns for their own. “A good many vehicles that came our way must actually have mistaken us for somebody else and even made way for us, edging over to the roadside. They made good targets.” He said that the Israelis threw explosives and hand grenades into sandbagged fortifications as they headed southward. At Ras Abu Dareg, a main target, the Egyptians had placed an anti-tank gun on top of a lighthouse that was blown up, Mr. Landau reported. He quoted an officer as saying “that was the most stupid positioning of an anti-tank gun I have ever seen.”
One injured Israeli soldier was removed from the scene by helicopter, and all other personnel and equipment returned intact. One jet was reported downed by anti-aircraft fire. The pilot was still missing in the Gulf of Suez into which he parachuted.