Arab Frogmen Plant Explosives That Damage 2 Vessels Anchored in Harbor of Eilat

Explosives planted underwater by frogmen damaged two Israeli merchant vessels in Eilat harbor early today. They are the Hey Daroma, a small motorship that carries tourists between Eilat and Sharm el-Sheikh, and the 14,000-deadweight ton cargo motorship Dahlia which was scheduled to sail for the Far East today with a full cargo of phosphates. No casualties were reported and neither vessel was in danger sinking. The Hey Daroma developed a list and was beached in shallow waters. Temporary repairs will be made to the Dahlia here and she is expected to sail in a few days. More extensive repairs will be made in dry dock when she reaches Singapore.

The attack was the first of its kind on Israeli ships Et Eilat, Israelis southernmost port, on the Gulf of Aqaba. Except for a rocket attack several months ago, Eilat has not been a target for Arab guerrillas. It has been protected by an unwritten agreement whereby the Jordanians refrain from attacking Eilat and the Israelis do not hit the neighboring Jordanian port of Aqaba, Authorities said today that it was not certain whether the frogmen were Jordanians or Egyptians or whether they came from Aqaba or some other point along the coast.

Both ships were moored at the Eilat jetty when the frogmen fixed explosive charges to their hulls on the starboard side below the waterline. The first charge exploded at 1:15 a.m. local time. A second blast was heard a few minutes later, followed by three more in rapid succession. Both ships had holed in several places. The Hey Daroma has been employed on sea-air tours of the Sinai in conjunction with Arkia, Israel’s inland airline. Tourists make the nine-hour voyage from Eilat to Sharm el-Sheikh aboard the vessel and fly back to Tel Aviv by way of the Santa Katerina monastery on Mount Sinai. The Dahlia, a former Norwegian ship, was acquired by the Zim Lines several years ago.

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