TEL AVIV (Apr. 9)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declared last night that he was “convinced beyond any doubt” that Israel Air Force jets struck a genuine military target in a bombing raid West of the Suez Canal yesterday. Gen. Dayan said that if a school was hit, as Cairo claims, it was located inside a military installation. “We have checked and re-checked and there was no mistake this time,” he said. Reconnaissance photographs made of the target before and after the attack were produced for newsmen and shown on television last night. They showed a rectangular building with a barbed wire fence around it. At least 19 trucks, 11 jeeps and four trailers were parked in the courtyard of the building and more military vehicles were parked nearby. Many of them were dug in and some were covered with camouflage nets. Near the building were fox holes, sentry posts and a check post surrounded by trenches. A photo made after the raid showed that the building was hit twice on its northern and northwestern sides.
(Israel’s representative to the United Nations charged Egypt today with disseminating a distorted account of the Israeli air raid. In a letter to Secretary General U Thant, Ambassador Yosef Tekoah declared that Israel regretted any loss of life but if there were casualties, including a number of youths, the responsibility lies with the Egyptian authorities for having placed them in a distinctly military installation within a zone of hostilities. Ambassador Tekoah said the target of the Israeli air raid was a military installation at Salahiye. He said that Egyptian authorities later conducted foreign newsmen to a hospital at El Husseiniyeh, about 12 miles away and refused to permit them to go to Salahiye on the excuse that the road was poor.
Mr. Tekoah quoted news dispatches from Cairo stating that some of the wounded youths seen by the correspondents were dressed in green khaki, the uniform of the Egyptian school home guard composed of pupils who receive civil defense training. “The Egyptian communique and the UAR representative both stated that the target was 80 kilometers north of Cairo but they omitted to add that this is a zone of hostilities about 30 kilometers west of Kantara” in the Suez Canal zone, Mr. Tekoah wrote. He observed that seven hours elapsed between the air action at 9:15 and the first Egyptian communique at 4 p.m. “Obviously this long interval was needed to enable the government of the UAR to make up its mind how to present its distortions to the outside world,” Ambassador Tekoah wrote.)
UAR SPOKESMAN CHARGES U.S. AID TO ISRAEL ENABLES ‘SUCH BARBARIC ATTACKS’
(The United Arab Republic Ambassador Dr. Mohamed Hassan El-Zayyat submitted a letter today to Secretary General U Thant condemning the bombing. The letter presented the UAR’s view of the incident. A United Nation’s spokesman said Dr. El-Zayyat’s letter did not contain any request that the bombing incident be taken before the Security Council. In a statement released to the press today by the UAR Mission to the UN. Dr. El-Zayyat told Dr. Bunche that “American supplied Phantom jets and other forms of assistance from the United States enabled Israel to carry out such barbaric attacks.”) (New York Times correspondent Raymond H. Anderson reported from Cairo today that foreign newsmen were taken to El Husseiniya to view dead and wounded children. “About 12 bodies were in the morgue. The other dead, a hospital official said, had already been removed by their parents,” Mr. Anderson wrote. Cairo radio claimed yesterday that 30 children in Bahr el Bakar primary school were killed and 46 other persons including 36 children were wounded. Mr. Anderson said the bodies in the morgue were torn by shrapnel and children in the hospital, aged seven to 12 were covered with blood and bandages.)
According to Egyptian sources the bombing was carried out by two American-built Phantom jets. In a broadcast statement last night. Gen. Dayan said, “What could have happened here was irresponsibility of high order, that the Egyptians had set aside a floor or some rooms in a military structure for civilian purposes such as a school.” Last Feb. 13 Israeli bombers hit a metal factory at Abu Zabal, killing 86 civilian workers. Israel promptly admitted that raid and said it was a tragic accident due to a navigational error. (In London today Israel’s Minister of Welfare, Dr. Joseph Burg said there could have been an error in yesterday’s bombing. He insisted that Israel attacks only military targets in Egypt and there has been no deviation from that policy. “But a pilot flying at 1500 m.p.h.–two seconds of flying time equals one mile–may commit the slightest human error and the result may be a tragedy. When this happens, and we do not know what happened in Egypt yesterday as yet, we are deeply unhappy.”