TEL AVIV (Jul. 1)
Four Israelis–two men and two women–were injured today when a hand grenade was thrown at their car in Gaza. One woman was reported in serious condition but the injuries to the others were described as slight. Security authorities are investigating the incident. Soviet missiles brought down two Israeli jets over the Suez Canal zone yesterday. Their crews bailed out and were presumably captured by the Egyptians, a military spokesman announced today. Israeli planes nevertheless continued their attacks on Egyptian targets in the northern section of the canal zone last night. Cairo claimed that four Israeli jets were downed and they were American-made Phantom F-4s. By Israel’s count the two planes were the 12th and 13th to be lost over Egypt since the June, 1967 war. But they were the first losses conceded by Israel since its air force began almost around-the-clock bombing of Egyptian targets in the canal zone on May 30. They are believed to have been hit by Soviet SAM-2 anti-aircraft missiles which hitherto have had little success against low-flying supersonic jets. The only acknowledged Israeli loss to SAM-2s until yesterday was a propeller-driven piper cub.
Some quarters here observed that the accuracy of the SAM-2 missiles indicated that they were operated by Russian technicians. But there was also speculation and a degree of alarm over the possibility that the two places were victims of the new SAM-3 ground-to-air missile. If that was the case, it would be the first instance of SAM-3 missiles being fired in combat and little doubt that the highly sophisticated radar guidance apparatus was operated by Soviet personnel. SAM-3 missile launchers are known to be distributed widely over central Egypt to protect such vital targets as Alexandria, Cairo and the Aswan High Dam. Israel’s incessant pounding of Egyptian positions along the West Bank of the Suez Canal and a strip some 20 miles deep inland from the waterway has been intended to forestall the placement of SAM-3s in the canal zone.
Sources here said that the missiles–SAM-2s–were probably positioned on the so-called “Red Line” which marks the western limit of the canal zone strip where Israel has maintained uncontested aerial supremacy. According to these sources, the Egyptians bring their missiles as close as possible to the line during the night hours and remove them before daylight. This is something of an improvisation, they said, and it is possible that the two Israeli jets downed yesterday were hit by chance. Israeli authorities approached International Red Cross representatives today with regard to the three pilots who balled out over Egypt. They were identified as Eyal Achikar, Rami Har Paz and Itzhak Fier. According to a report from Cairo, Fier suffered a fractured hand and some bruises but the others sustained no injuries. In addition to the three, Egypt is holding another Israeli pilot, Avinoam Kaldes, who balled out several months ago, two Israeli soldiers kidnapped in a commando raid across the Suez Canal last month and an Israeli officer and two civilian canteen workers captured in another commando raid several months ago.