JERUSALEM (Apr. 26)
A military spokesman announced today that Israeli positions opened anti-aircraft fire on an Egyptian MIG-21 which had overflown Israeli positions in the northern sector of the Suez Canal. The announcement did not say whether the plane was hit. It is assumed that the Israeli deliberately missed the plane in order to avoid provoking a battle but opened fire in order to chase the plane away. According to reports by United Nations observers here, this was not the first occasion in the current cease-fire period on which the Israelis have directed fire at Egyptian planes, but it is the first time a military spokesman has announced it. Since the beginning of the cease-fire there have been 19 recorded cases of Egyptian overflights of Israeli positions on the canal. The military spokesman’s office, asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency why an announcement of the Israeli fire was made today, was not able to give any reason and said it was orders from higher authority. The reason however is believed to be the Israeli government’s determination not to show any softness in the face of the recent Egyptian and Soviet threats. It was learned that Egyptian planes overflying Israeli positions usually come at least in a pair, sometimes in two pairs. Today’s plane came alone. It was also learned that when Egyptian planes come in, Israeli positions usually hold their fire but open fire only if military reasons make it necessary to drive the plane off.