TEL AVIV (Dec. 18)
Israeli forces repulsed two Egyptian raiding parties on the east bank of the Suez Canal last night. A medical corpsman, Bezalel Shimoni, was killed by Egyptian artillery fire while treating a wounded Israeli soldier. There were no other Israeli casualties. Cairo radio conceded the loss of three men but did not say whether they were killed, wounded or captured.
Cairo’s version of the attacks was branded false by Israel. According the Egyptian account, large contingents of infantry crossed the canal during the night and inflicted heavy casualties and damage on Israeli forces, fortifications and equipment. The Egyptians claimed that one Israeli position was “wiped out” and that one tank and three armored half tracks were destroyed. The Egyptians also claimed to have mounted their “heaviest” artillery barrage along a 70 mile stretch of the waterway.
An Israeli military spokesman said a patrol encountered a group of about 10 Egyptian commandos on the Israeli side of the canal opposite Diel el Balah at 8:30 p.m. local time. The commandos retreated as soon as they came under fire and re-crossed the canal under cover of an Egyptian artillery barrage. An hour later, Israeli units engaged another raiding party of about 20 Egyptians who soon retreated under artillery cover. Israel suffered its two casualties in the latter action. A military spokesman said Cairo was desperately trying to achieve some kind of victory and was making extravagant claims in order to enhance Egypt’s stature at the Arab summit conference which opens at Rabat, Morocco Dec. 20.