TEL AVIV (Sep. 11)
The Egyptian Air Force launched three attacks on Israeli positions in the Sinai Desert today, Cairo Radio said. The Egyptians lost 11 planes in the ensuing dogfights, according to an Israeli military spokesman, who cited one Israeli loss. Cairo claimed that it shot down four Israeli aircraft and lost two of its own.
The air battles were the biggest in the Mideast since July 8 when Israeli jets shot down seven Syrian MIG-21s over the Golan Heights.
Israeli jets meanwhile reportedly blasted bazooka and mortar positions in Jordan following guerrilla attacks on an Israeli patrol near Maoz Chaim in the Beisan Valley and assaulted a terrorist base about four miles east of Salt in Jordan.
A military spokesman said the first Egyptian air attack occurred at 9:30 a.m. local time. Two planes were shot down by anti-aircraft fire and a third was hit and presumably lost. The second attack at noon cost the Egyptians two Soviet-made MIG-21 fighters and two Soukhov bombers shot down in aerial dogfights with Israeli fighter planes. Another Egyptian plane was brought down by an American-made Hawk ground-to-air missile. Israeli casualties resulting from the Egyptian air raids were three soldiers wounded, none seriously, the spokesman reported.
Three Egyptian planes were shot down when they tried to intercept Israeli planes attacking Egyptian positions in the northern section of the Suez Canal. One Israeli plane was downed and the pilot was seen bailing out.
Cairo said the targets of the Egyptian raids were Israeli positions at the northern and southern ends of the Suez Canal. The raids were apparently in retaliation for Tuesday’s 10-hour foray by Israeli tanks and armored infantry against Egyptian targets on a 30-mile long strip of coast fronting the Gulf of Suez. The raid was followed up yesterday by an Israeli fighter-bomber attack on the same targets.
(Egypt today accused the United States Central Intelligence Agency — CIA — of complicity with Israel in Tuesday’s raid on the Gulf of Suez. The Nasser Government’s semi-official newspaper. Al Ahram, claimed that CIA agents met with Israelis in Rome 10 days ago to plan the raid.
According to Al Ahram, reports from Arab embassies in various capitals “proved” CIA complicity. The allegation was reminiscent of the one by Egypt and Jordan in June. 1967 that U.S. and British aircraft took part in the Israeli air attacks which destroyed the Arab air forces in the first hours of the Six-Day War. That charge was later partially retracted by President Gamal Abdel Nasser but not before Cairo had severed diplomatic relations with the U.S. and Britain. In Moscow today, the Communist Party newspaper Pravda charged that “certain circles” in the U.S. had “encouraged” Israel’s strike in the Gulf of Suez Tuesday and noted that it coincided with the first delivery of U.S. Phantom jets to Israel.
Cairo claimed a victory in today’s air raids on the Sinai. An Egyptian spokesman said Egyptian S-17 fighter-bombers and MIG-21s scored hits on Hawk missile sites, a radar station, artillery and anti-aircraft installations, the Israeli Army southern command post and a naval installation on the Gulf of Suez. At the same time, Egyptian spokesman belittled Tuesday’s Israeli raid. They said it was an abortive Israeli attempt to draw Egyptian forces into a “trap,” that only lightly held coastal positions were hit and that the Israelis were driven back with “heavy losses” before they could strike at the main Egyptian positions further inland.)
Four Arab saboteurs were killed last night near the Damiya bridge in an encounter with an Israeli patrol, a military spokesman reported. There were no Israeli casualties.