TEL AVIV (Jul. 5)
An Israel Air Force jet was shot down over the Suez Canal zone this afternoon, the third in six days. The plane was participating in day-long aerial assaults on Egyptian positions in the central and southern sectors of the canal zone which began at 8:30 a.m. local time and continued until 6 p.m. A military spokesman said their targets were artillery emplacements and SAM-2 missile-launching sites. He said it was not certain whether the downed jet was hit by anti-aircraft fire or by ground-to-air rockets. There were no dogfights with Egyptian jets. On June 30, Israel lost two jets in the canal zone, believed to have been the victims of SAM-2 anti-aircraft missiles. Israeli jets attacked Egyptian positions in the canal zone throughout Friday and Saturday and returned safely to their bases. A military spokesman denied an Egyptian claim that two jets were shot down yesterday. He said the targets were artillery emplacements, mortar positions, bunkers and infantry fortifications as well as ground-to-air missile sites in the central section of the canal zone. In action on other fronts over the week-end, three Israeli border policemen were wounded yesterday when fired on from guerrillas in Lebanese territory near the Upper Galilee settlement of Metullah. Three Israeli soldiers were wounded in fire exchanges with Egyptian forces across the Suez Canal Friday and Saturday. Mortar shells were fired at Israeli troops in the Golan Heights from the southwestern slopes of Mt. Hermon in Lebanon early this morning.
The loss of three Israeli jets in less than a week over the Suez Canal zone increased speculation here and abroad that the Egyptians were employing a new kind of ground-to-air missile or that the old, previously ineffective SAM-2, was being manned by Soviet experts. The American syndicated columnist Joseph Alsop claimed Friday that the two Israeli jets shot down last Tuesday were hit by a “modified SAM-2 with electronic systems so radically improved that it amounts to a brand new Soviet missile.” Mr. Alsop claimed that considerable numbers of the “improved” missiles had been deployed in a line about 10 miles West of the Suez Canal. But Israeli military sources denied today that any new, improved version of the SAM-2 missile exists. They confirmed their original opinion that the two planes lost on June 30 were hit by conventional SAM-2s. (The New York Times linked the downing of the two jets to the reported arrival in Egypt of a Soviet missile called “Ganef” by Western military experts. According to a Times report yesterday, the “Ganef” is a 30-foot rocket on a twin-tracked twin-launcher vehicle propelled by solid fuel and controlled by a guidance system on the ground. It is no more accurate than the SAM-2 but more maneuverable, the Times said. The paper quoted reliable sources in Washington to the effect that the Nixon Administration has no firm evidence that the Russians have installed “Ganef” missiles in Egypt apart from some “vague reports.” The Times said Mr. Nixon was more concerned with the new Soviet SAM-3 missiles which have not yet been used against Israeli aircraft.)