Israel Foils Attempt by 3rd Army to Break out of Encirclement

Israel claimed today that it foiled an attempt by the Egyptian Third Army to break out of encirclement. An army spokesman said the Egyptians attempted to throw an infantry bridge across the Suez Canal but it was destroyed by Israeli artillery fire.

According to Col. Nahman Karni, the bridge was spotted at dawn about seven kilometers from the southern outlet of the canal. He said the Egyptians apparently intended to send a commando platoon across the canal from the east to the west bank. Israeli artillery scored direct hits and the bridge capsized, he said. It was learned, meanwhile, that senior Israeli and Egyptian officers may hold a second meeting tomorrow at the 101 kilometer marker on the Cairo-Suez road, the site of their first meeting yesterday.

THREE EGYPTIAN HELICOPTERS DOWNED

Israeli forces shot down three Egyptian helicopters that were flying in the direction of the encircled Egyptian Third Army in the southern section of the Suez Canal early today. Two of the copters were downed by Israel Air Force jets sent up to intercept them and fell into the Gulf of Suez. The third was hit by ground fire and crashed in an area held by Egyptian forces, a military spokesman said. The helicopters were believed to be trying to airlift supplies to the Third Army. The incidents occurred shortly after 1 a.m. local time.

(At the UN this morning Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah charged that the helicopter flights constituted a “flagrant violation” of the cease-fire agreement by Egypt. In a letter to Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, Tekoah accused the Egyptians of additional cease-fire breaches yesterday. He alleged that Egyptian forces opened tank, artillery and small arms fire against Israeli forces in the southern sector of the canal and that they also fired ground-to-air missiles across the cease-fire lines.)

WATER MOST PRIZED BY EGYPTIANS

The supply of food, water and medical supplies to the Third Army through Israeli lines continued this morning. The main problem was the ferrying of the truckloads of supplies across the canal to the beleaguered Egyptian forces on the east bank. There are no bridges or boats. For the time being, the ferrying is accomplished by Soviet-made Egyptian amphibious tanks. Egyptian supply trucks, driven by UN personnel, continued to move eastward toward the canal.

The white plastic water containers carried by the trucks seem to be most prized by the Egyptians. A young Egyptian officer who identified himself as a Lt. Col., though he wore no insignia of rank, told the Israeli officer accompanying one convoy to the canal banks that “We lack nothing, we have everything we need.” The Israeli replied, “If this is so we can pull the convoy back.” The Egyptian hesitated and asked if there was water in the convoy and in what quantities. Egyptian soldiers loaded the water containers on to an amphibious tank for the return trip across the 100-foot waterway.

ISRAELI, EGYPTIAN DOCTORS WORK TOGETHER

Meanwhile, Egyptian and Israeli physicians worked side by side today treating wounded Egyptian POWs in Israeli hands. The movie house in a captured Egyptian army camp on the west side of the canal has been turned into a hospital. The Egyptian doctors themselves are POWs. One of them, Capt. Ahmed Makdi Smacka, 28, told newsmen that he received full cooperation and assistance from his Israeli colleagues. He said he was a graduate of the Alexandria Medical School and had been working in a field hospital unaware that Israeli forces had crossed the Suez Canal until he was taken prisoner. (By Yitzhak Shargil.)

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