TEL AVIV (Jan. 25)
Israel Air Force jets scored hits on a 120 ton Egyptian Navy auxiliary vessel southeast of Shadwan island in the Gulf of Suez this morning. The craft, which is used as a troop and supply carrier, went out of control and grounded on a reef. An Israeli military spokesman said anti-aircraft gunners aboard the Egyptian vessel opened fire on the Israeli planes prior to being attacked.
On Friday night, Israeli forces ended their 32-hour occupation of Shadwan after removing all portable equipment including an entire British-built Decca radar station and large quantities of arms, ammunition and other military hardware. What could not be moved was demolished before the Israeli flag was finally hauled down from the lighthouse tower at the northern end of the island. The lighthouse itself was not touched because its beacon is an aid to navigation. Israeli sources estimate that a total of 70 Egyptians were killed in the Shadwan operation which began early Thursday morning and 60 prisoners were taken. The dead included the crews of two Soviet-made Egyptian torpedo boats sunk by Israeli aircraft off Shadwan on Thursday. A foreign correspondent selected to visit the island on behalf of a pool of foreign journalists reported that the Israeli evacuation went smoothly and there were no signs of any Egyptians on the island, in the air or on the sea. His report refuted claims by Cairo yesterday that Egyptian forces had driven the Israelis off Shadwan.
Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said on a radio interview Saturday that “all of Egypt is a battle field.” He said Israel was not interested in conquering more territory but “as far as military objectives are concerned, there are no limitations.” Gen. Dayan said that Israel’s policy of striking targets anywhere in Egypt was aimed at halting or at least diminishing Egypt’s preparations for a new war against Israel. He described it as a “static” policy with strategic objectives. Gen. Dayan said Israel’s first priority was peace and its second was Egyptian adherence to the cease-fire. But the Egyptians want neither, he said. Instead, President Gamal Abdel Nasser has declared a war of attrition against Israel and Israel’s response is to conduct its own version of such a war “to make things easier for us and more difficult for them,” the Israeli Defense Minister said.