TEL AVIV (Oct. 23)
Fierce fighting erupted on both banks of the Suez Canal last night only hours after the standstill cease-fire went into effect and was reported continuing this morning in most sectors. Israel accused Egypt of violating the cease-fire and said its forces have been ordered to resume fighting.
An Israeli army spokesman said shortly after midnight that the cease-fire was not being observed by the Egyptians and that they were firing on Israeli forces with a variety of weapons. Air battles continued on the northern front with Syria which has not accepted the cease-fire. Israel claimed that 10 Syrian jets were downed today.
Terrorists operating from Lebanon kept up intensive fire through the night at Israeli border settlements. Kfar Yuval, Mliot, Goren, Kfar Szold, Har Adir and Biriya came under mortar fire during the night. Sasa and Kiryat Shemona were targets of Katyusha rocket attacks and Avivim was hit by bazooka shells. No casualties were reported. Two terrorists were wounded and captured and a third surrendered.
A military spokesman said that Egyptian forces opened heavy fire on Israeli forces in the central sector west of the canal this morning. He said the firing continued and spread to the southern sector. Israeli armored and air force units were reported in full action once again, striking at Egyptian concentrations of armor and infantry on both sides of the canal.
CONTROL OF SALIENT WAS TURNING POINT
Israel claimed that its crossing of the canal and control of a salient on the west bank of well over 1300 square kilometers was the turning point of the war. A military spokesman said Israeli strategy was to knock out enemy missile sites to permit freedom of action for the air force; to outflank and trap Egyptian forces on the canal’s east bank; and to destroy as much enemy equipment as possible.
Although the Israeli success was spectacular, the objective of destroying Egypt’s war-making potential and freeing the east bank of Egyptian forces had not been achieved when the cease-fire went into effect yesterday at 7:12 p.m. (local time), about 20 minutes beyond the deadline set by the joint U.S. Soviet resolution adopted by the Security Council early yesterday morning.
KEY AREAS HELD BY ISRAELIS
Israel said that just prior to the cease fire, its forces had reached the west bank of the Suez Canal south of the Bitter Lakes and seized control of three Egyptian airfields. Israeli forces were also said to be in firm control of three key communications lines linking Suez with Cairo-two roads and a railroad. To the north, Israel said its forces were in full control of the Ismailia “green belt,” a region of orange and date groves, farms and oases along the banks of the canal, and held the main Ismailia-Cairo road.
According to reports from Jerusalem last night, Israel, while accepting the cease-fire, had hoped to have several more days to achieve all of its military objectives against Egypt. Israelis did not share the reported Soviet assessment that Egyptian forces could go on fighting indefinitely as long as the flow of Russian supplies continued.
ETHIOPIA BREAKS WITH ISRAEL
Another factor that prompted Israel to accept the cease-fire was reportedly its growing political isolation, It was reported this morning that Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. hitherto considered a firm friend of Israel, severed diplomatic relations with Jerusalem, the 17th African state to do so in the past year. Selassie said that diplomatic relations between his country and Israel would remain severed until Israel withdrew from the territories it occupied in the Six-Day War. Only last week Selassie sent a message to the Israel government and people expressing his “sincere feelings and hopes for an end to the human suffering and for an agreed solution to the Mideast problem.” Israel was cheered by that message.
Moreover, Israel apparently is not commanding the almost universal sympathy in Western Europe that it enjoyed in the 1967 Six-Day War Britain and France are maintaining their arms embargoes and even the friendly Belgian government has refused to declare sympathy with Israel.