Israel’s Casualties from Egyptian Attacks Heaviest Since Six-day War

Israel Air Force jets attacked Egyptian positions in the southern section of the Suez Canal zone for an hour today and returned safely to their bases. No Egyptian air activity was reported but Israel’s casualties mounted to six dead from yesterday’s Egyptian air raid and Egyptian shelling in the canal zone. Pvt. David Cohen, 19, of Kiryat Shemona, was killed in artillery exchanges between Israeli and Egyptian forces in the central section of the waterway yesterday. Lucien Lalozs, 21, a civilian worker from Beersheba employed by the military, died of injuries he suffered in yesterday’s air raid.

Israeli authorities conceded today that the dead and wounded suffered in the Suez Canal zone yesterday and the loss of a jet constituted the heaviest casualties sustained by Israel in a single day since the June, 1967 war. However, they said they would not jump to the conclusion that Egypt’s relative success in the air and on the ground reflected better training and improved fighting qualities. Egypt lost one MIG-21 in yesterday’s dogfight which reportedly involved 40 planes on both sides.

ISRAELI AUTHORITIES SEEK INFORMATION ABOUT PILOT WHOSE JET WAS SHOT DOWN

Israeli authorities asked the Red Cross today for information about Lt. Avinoam Klidess, a fighter pilot whose jet was shot down in an air battle with Egyptian jets over the west bank of the Suez Canal yesterday. His fellow pilots reported that he bailed out safely and was taken prisoner by Egyptian soldiers when he reached the ground. Two Arab saboteurs were killed yesterday in on encounter with an Israeli patrol north of Jericho. They were carrying two Soviet-made Kalachnikof rifles, home-made bazookas, mines and other sabotage equipment. There were no Israeli casualties.

An Israeli military spokesman said Egyptian air attacks have increased steadily in recent days despite President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s admission that his air force lacked sufficient pilots. He said there were 143 air strikes by Egyptian planes during the first nine days of February. He said Egyptian shelling across the canal has also increased in recent days but is no where near the intensity it reached at the end of 1968 and in March, 1969 when the Egyptians fired thousands of shells a day at Israeli positions on the canal’s east bank. The posting of Israeli snipers on its side of the canal has substantially reduced Israeli casualties from Egyptian sniper fire.

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