TEL AVIV (Jan. 22)
Israeli paratroopers, supported by Naval and Air Force Units captured Shadwan Island today, an Egyptian radar outpost in the mouth of the Gulf of Suez. The action, punctuated by sharp skirmishing, ended with the surrender of the Egyptian garrison. Israeli forces suffered three dead and six wounded. The Egyptians lost 19 men on the island and an undetermined number of naval personnel when two Soviet-made Egyptian P-183 torpedo boats guarding the island were sunk by Israeli aircraft. An Israeli military spokesman said 41 Egyptians were taken prisoner on the island.
Shadwan is a barren strip of coral and rock with no civilian population. Israeli sources said there was no intention to hold the island. But as of 7 p.m. local time, Israeli forces were still there, reportedly removing the radar and other equipment. The landing took place at 9 a.m. local time and by 3 p.m. the paratroopers were in control of the southern part of the island with the Egyptians confined to its hilly northern end where the radar station and other equipment was located. Shortly afterwards, the Egyptians started to surrender, individually and then as many as 15 at a time, an Israeli military spokesman said.
Israel considered the sinking of the two torpedo boats an important “dividend” of the operation. They bring to six the number of Soviet-made Egyptian torpedo boats sunk by Israel since the June, 1967 war. The boats have been used to carry Egyptian commandos and high explosives on sabotage missions to the Israel-occupied east shore of the Gulf of Suez. An Israeli spokesman said the Shaman radar station was used to spy on Israeli movements. The island lies midway between the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula and the Egyptian mainland, about 30 miles off Egypt’s biggest Red Sea naval base at Ghardaka. It faces a 30 mile strip of coast that Israeli amphibious armored forces swept clean last year in a ten hour raid. An Israeli spokesman said today’s operation was in line with recent Israeli air and commando strikes at Egyptian military targets outside the Suez Canal zone.
THREE ISRAELI SOLDIERS KILLED AND ONE CIVILIAN WOUNDED IDENTIFIED
The three Israeli soldiers killed in the attack were identified as Lt. Itzhak Kotler, 24, of Kibbutz Givat Brenner, Sgt. Israel Barlev, 22 of Kibbutz Givat Chaim and Pvt. Chaim Isserowitz. 20, of Herzlya. An Israeli civilian, Joseph Klein, 40, was killed near Adullam in Judea today when his vehicle struck a mine. Klein lived in Neve Yeshayahu.
Conflicting reports emerged from Israeli and Arab sources today on yesterday’s Israeli armored assault into Jordan. According to an Israeli military spokesman, the Israeli force consisted of two tanks and a number of half tracks, supported by Air Force jets. Their mission was to mop up guerrilla positions in southern Jordan responsible for recent rocket attacks on the Dead Sea potash works. The Israeli spokesman said the force occupied Jordanian territory for 22 hours without encountering opposition from Jordanian forces. He claimed that five Arab saboteurs were killed in a clash near Tel A Safi and that a number of El Fatah vehicles were destroyed, including two jeeps armed with recoilless guns. The spokesman said all Israeli forces returned intact and described the action as a “neat operation.”
Amman claimed today that 400 Israeli troops and a column of 80 tanks pushed into Jordan but were resisted by guerrilla forces who had been forewarned. The semi-official Cairo newspaper AI Ahram claimed today that the Israeli attack failed to clear the border area of guerrilla camps. It published a statement by El Fatah leader Yasser Arafat that “Our positions and bases remain where they have been. Indeed, our situation is very good.” Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Riad, said the Israeli attack was another attempt to force the Arabs into direct peace talks where Israel would not negotiate but dictate terms. Amman radio said that King Hussein of Jordan, visited the battle front and was satisfied that “our forces were in control of the situation.”