Jordanian Army Reported Prepared to Crush Guerrillas; Heavy Fighting Reported
Menu JTA Search

Jordanian Army Reported Prepared to Crush Guerrillas; Heavy Fighting Reported

Download PDF for this date

The Jordanian army appears to be determined to obliterate the terrorist forces within its borders and is massing for a total crackdown, it was reported here today by reliable sources. Clashes that erupted on Friday between King Hussein’s army and the Palestinian guerrillas is continuing and spreading. Heavy fighting has been reported between the army and the terrorists in the Jerash area north of Amman. The guerrillas are calling upon Arab governments to help them. According to reliable sources, Palestinians have abandoned a refugee camp in the Jerash area and many of them are fleeing toward Israeli-held territories to seek safety. There is no immediate indication of what the Israeli government will do to provide sought for safety or how many Palestinians are involved in the flight. Meanwhile, El Fatah leader Tasser Arafat, is in Cairo Imploring the Egyptian government for help. President Anwar Sadat has requested Arab heads of state to send delegates to a conference in Amman to discuss the critical condition in Jordan. He also instructed Ahmed Hassan el Fikki, the Egyptian ambassador in London, to set a meeting with King Hussein who is presently at a clinic in London. Sadat was reported to have felt that the current developments in Jordan contradicted assurance given by Hussein when he visited Cairo last month.

The position of the terrorists in Jordan is deteriorating: ranged against them is not only Hussein’s army but also the peasants living in the Ghor Canal area along the northern Jordan valley who have been generously supplied with arms by the Jordanian government. In addition, rains have turned the terrain into a muddy area which has cut off the terrorists in Jordan from direct contact with Lebanon, According to sources, the combination of the assault by the Jordanian army and the increasing isolation of the guerrillas from the local population has affected the morale of the terrorists which is said to be at low ebb. Thousands of guerrilla fighters in refugee camps outside Amman have been told to be ready for a full scale army attack. Jordanian troops closed the road north from Amman to zarka where heavy fighting was reported. An El Fatah spokesman reported that the Jordanian army was continuing shelling guerrilla bases in the Jerash and Salt areas. Amman radio, however, denied the reports. The Central Committee of the Palestinian guerrilla organizations, which includes the 10 major groups, urgently appealed to Arab heads of state to intercede to halt what the Committee termed “the conspiracy to liquid ate the Palestinian revolution.” The appeal, broadcast by the Committee’s radio in Amman, was repeated by the Damascus radio but the Syrian government has not yet responded to the appeal, Radio Cairo interrupted its normal broadcasts to report the new outbreak of fighting which the spokesman characterized as a “premeditated plan aimed at inflaming the situation again.”


(In London, reliable sources disclosed today that when Hussein visited Washington, Paris and London last month he told President Nixon, President Georges Pompidou and Prime Minister Edward Heath that he would make a determined effort to remove the Palestinians from the Jordanian scene as a military force. According to the sources, none of these statesmen wanted the cause of the Palestinians to go by default but the idea of a private army, hostile to them in a country they each support, did not appeal to them. This explains, the sources noted, the renewed campaign against the guerrillas in Jordan. They also stated that Hussein is expected to return to Amman within the next few days.) A statement issued by the Jordanian government said the fighting in the Jerash area erupted after a kidnapping on Friday by guerrillas of two noncommissioned army officers and the killing of a Jordanian soldier. A statement by the El Fatah charged the Jordanian Army shelled a Palestinian Red Crescent (the equivalent of the Red Cross) hospital at El Rurnman and had bombed a refugee camp at al-Baqaa a few miles from Amman. Large casualties were reported but no exact figure was given.

In Cairo, an Egyptian spokesman said a report from Brig. Ahmed Abdel Hamid Hilmi, chief of the Arab military observer team in Jordan, noted that tanks had smashed through some guerrilla positions. A communique issued by the guerrillas in Beirut stated their forces had been driven out of Rasifa after putting up a “heroic defense.” The communique also accused Jordanian troops of looting and rape in the village. Hilmi accused the Jordanian government of barring him and other observers from the scene of the fighting and announced he was suspending work of the observers until further notice. During the civil war in Jordan in September, the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser succeeded in getting Hussein and Arafat to come to Cairo to sign a truce. Sadat’s message to heads of Arab states was directed to those who attended the summit meeting last September in Cairo. That meeting served to end earlier fighting between Jordanian and guerrilla forces.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund