TEL AVIV (Feb. 12)
Israel Air Force jets attacked military targets in the Suez Canal zone and deep inside Egypt today while Egyptian aircraft raided Israeli positions in the northern sector of the canal zone. A military spokesman said the Egyptian attacks caused no casualties or damage. One Israeli soldier was injured today in an exchange of fire between Israeli and Egyptian forces across the canal. All Israeli planes returned safely.
Egypt claimed today that Israeli bombers blasted a metal works factory at Abu Zabal, 13 miles north of Cairo, killing 50 civilian workers and wounding 69, the heaviest civilian casualties suffered by Egypt since the June, 1967 war. (In Washington today. Acting Secretary of State Elliot L. Richardson said the U.S. deplored the Israeli attack on the Egyptian factory “which has apparently resulted in a considerable loss of life and injuries.”) An Israeli military spokesman said today that Israel’s policy was to hit only military targets in Egypt and if a civilian area was bombed it was due to a “regretable error.”
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan took a measure unprecedented in warfare today when he warned Egypt through the Red Cross and the United Nations that Israeli pilots had accidentally dropped a bomb with a timing device outside their target area. The 400 kilo bomb is timed to explode tomorrow. Gen. Dayan said Israeli authorities learned of the error during a debriefing of pilots returning from today’s air raids. He said he immediately requested the Red Cross representatives in Israel and the United Nations Observers Corps headed by Lt. Gen. Odd Bull to inform Egyptian authorities to find the bomb and disarm it.
The targets in today’s Israeli air raids were listed as an Army camp at El Khanka about 20 miles north of Cairo, a radar station at Jebel Aweibed, 40 miles west of the Suez Canal and a military camp at Helouan. El Khanka is a storage depot for Egyptian Air Force equipment. A military spokesman said the Israeli pilots reported direct hits. But Cairo said the bombers hit the metal works and not the El Khanka supply station. Israeli forces demolished 35 houses in the Jericho and Hebron areas yesterday that belonged to confessed terrorists. Israel has asked the International Red Cross for information about two Israeli civilians kidnapped by Egyptian commandos in the Suez Canal zone yesterday. The civilians were identified as Mordechai Cohen, of Ramleh and Mordechai Bavlel, of Jaffa, both employes of a mobile canteen serving Israeli troops in the canal area.