TEL AVIV (Nov. 18)
Israeli officials hold Jordan responsible for an attack by frogmen which damaged two Israeli merchant ships in the port of Eilat early Sunday. They say the frogmen may have been Egyptian but they came from Aqaba, the Jordanian seaport adjacent to Eilat. Observers here believe retaliatory action will be taken against Jordan. Israeli jets bombed Aqaba several months ago after Arab guerrillas staged a rocket attack on Eilat from Jordanian territory. But generally a tacit agreement has been in effect by which the Israelis and Jordanians refrain from attacking each other’s towns.
One of the damaged ships, the 14,000 deadweight ton freighter Dahlia, has been patched up and will sail tomorrow for the Far East with a cargo of potash. She is expected to dry dock at Singapore for permanent repairs. The tourist ferry Hey Daroma will be repaired locally and is expected to be seaworthy in a few days.
An Israeli intelligence officer said it was “reasonably” certain that the frogmen reached Eilat from Aqaba. They planted explosives on the underwater hulls of the two ships. The Cairo newspaper Al Ahram published a purported interview with one of the frogmen whose name and rank were withheld. He reportedly said that the operation was “rehearsed scores and scores of times” before being executed. Egypt claims the frogmen were flown in by helicopter.