Menu JTA Search

Cease-fire on Israel-egypt Front Firm; Fighting Flares Along Israel-jordan Border

Guns were silent and warplanes were grounded along the Suez Canal for the first time in 14 months today. The cease-fire between Israel and Egypt that went into effect at midnight Friday, local time, held firm during its first 48 hours and all signs indicated that both sides intended to respect it. But fighting flared along the Israel-Jordanian line, from the Golan Heights to the wilderness south of the Dead Sea and on the Lebanese border. Guerrilla attacks on Israeli settlements brought aerial reprisals. Israel Air Force jets went into action this afternoon against guerrilla bases and concentrations on the Western slopes of Mt. Hermon following last night’s Katyusha rocket attacks of Kfar Giladi and Misgav Am in Upper Galilee. The air attacks lasted 20 minutes and all planes returned safely. Three Israeli soldiers were wounded in the Golan Heights Saturday morning by fire from Jordanian territory. Two Arab guerrillas were killed and eight were captured in a clash with an Israeli patrol near the Sea of Galilee at noon yesterday. Jordanian mortars shelled Neot Hakikar. south of the Dead Sea and artillery fired at the Dead Sea potash works at Sdom last night following Katyusha rocket attacks on the same target Saturday morning. An Israeli patrol was attacked near Umm Sidra pass in the Jordan Valley last night and rockets were fired at Nahal Kalya settlement north of the Dead Sea and at Menahemiya in the northern Beisan Valley. No Israeli casualties were reported.

Deputy Premier Yigal Allon warned in a radio interview last night that “if terrorists or other forces continued to attack Israeli villages and towns,” Israel would invoke its right to self defense. Mr. Allon’s warning was directed at the Jordanian government which has not responded to the call for a 90-day cease-fire that went into effect between Israel and Egypt. The Jordanian government never formally repudiated the original cease-fire of June, 1967 which President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt declared null and void in April, 1969. The 1967 cease-fire is therefore technically still in effect between Israel and Jordan and continues to be violated daily. Mr. Allon stressed that Israel will insist that the Jordanian government is responsible for the actions of all armed forces on its territory including terrorists, Iraqi troops and other foreign and irregular forces. The rapidity with which the cease-fire was put into effect on the Suez Canal front surprised many observers. It was expected that arrangements for policing the truce would take considerable time to work out. But Israel and Egypt agreed readily to maintain a vigil over each others’ side of the waterway. This is being done by aerial reconnaissance which reportedly can cover a strip 32 miles deep on both sides of the canal without either party violating the air space of the other. United Nations truce observers are nevertheless manning posts on both banks of the canal.

ISRAELI TROOPS TAKE PRECAUTION AGAINST SNIPER FIRE; EGYPTIANS SWIM IN SUEZ CANAL

The Egyptians mounted a final heavy barrage on Israeli positions just before the cease-fire went into effect. Some 500-600 shells exploded in each of two positions but caused no casualties. But once the midnight deadline passed on Friday, there was dead silence. Israeli troops nevertheless were instructed to take precautions. Steel helmets and flack vests were not discarded and soldiers did not unnecessarily expose themselves to possible sniper fire. The Egyptians apparently had more faith in the Israelis’ integrity and discipline. They left their bunkers after the cease-fire. As Saturday morning dawned, Egyptian soldiers were seen swimming In the canal’s muddy waters. The cease-fire brought a general relaxation throughout Israel. The Suez Canal front was the deadliest and hardly a day passed during the long months gone by that didn’t bring grim news of casualties. There were celebrations in the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities. On the Sinai front, Israeli troops toasted each other with wine, champagne and brandy.

Premier Golda Meir went on radio and television yesterday to announce that “Israel, for her part, declares her complete readiness to maintain the cease-fire arrangements meticulously in all their provisions, on a basis of reciprocity.” She added that Israel “would like to regard the cease-fire as a natural stage to be observed on the road to a contractual peace established on defensible, agreed borders between us and Egypt.” Mrs. Meir warned however that “in the absence of peace, Israel will continue to maintain in full the situation as established at the time of the cease-fire and will spare no effort needed to advance the development of the State.” Mr. Allon said in a radio interview yesterday that the cease-fire was based on a written agreement and Israel had every reason to assume that it would not be exploited by Egypt. He said the government welcomed the cease-fire because “it is easier to achieve peace when there is no shooting.” As to the forthcoming negotiations, he said Israel was prepared for “territorial compromise but not at the expense of its security.” Israel Galili, a Minister-Without-Portfolio and member of Mrs. Meir’s Labor Alignment, cautioned Israelis Friday not to expect peace to come soon. In an Interview published in the newspaper Yediot Achronot he said the Arab attitude continued to be one of active hostility, especially in the case of Syria. Mr. Galili also said he believed the Arab guerrilla organizations would do everything they could to wreck the cease-fire.

ROGERS, THANT HAIL CEASE-FIRE; BAR LEV: CEASE-FIRE VIOLATIONS WILL BE DEALT WITH

(In Cairo, the Foreign Ministry on Friday called the cease-fire arrangements “acceptable,” and recognizance of “the security of the Egyptian military front and its requirements” and of “the necessity of protecting other Arab fighting fronts.” The Ministry said it “considers that the way is thus open”

In regard to the Jordanian-Israeli border, U.S. officials noted that “neither side has disavowed its adherence to the pertinent United Nations cease-fire resolutions, which remain in effect.” President Gamal Abdel Nasser declared Egypt’s abrogation of the shooting halt on April 23,1969. The new, temporary cease-fire was said to apply also to the Syrian and Lebanese borders. (In Amman, a spokesman for the guerrillas’ Central Committee announced Friday night that “The commando movement will not abide by the cease-fire and will escalate its activities until the liberation of Palestine has been achieved.” A spokesman for El Fatah said: “We reject the cease-fire. We want to liberate our land, and the decision of the United Arab Republic to accept a cease-fire does not change our position and will prompt us to step up our military, operations until final victory.”) Chief of Staff Gen. Haim Bar Lev said last night that it was the steadfastness and bravery of Israeli soldiers that brought about Friday’s cease-fire with Egypt. In a radio address, Gen. Bar Lev said it was the aim of Israeli forces to prevent a new war and to reach a cease-fire and that aim was achieved. “The cumulative effect of our activity is the main reason for Nasser’s accepting the cease-fire, he said. He said violations of the cease-fire on other fronts would be dealt with by appropriate means.

NEXT STORY