TEL AVIV (Nov. 4)
Egyptian armored forces held in reserve to protect Cairo are now deployed facing the Israeli forces on the west bank of the Suez Canal in an apparent maneuver to break the encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army Corps on the east bank of the canal. This development became known today amid reports of increased activity by the Third Army and the Egyptian Second Army to the north which could lead to a renewal of fighting along the Suez Canal.
Three exchanges of fire initiated by the Egyptians were reported tonight. Two incidents occurred in the northern sector of the Israeli salient on the west bank of the canal. Small arms fire was involved in both cases. The third incident occurred at the southernmost point of the Third Army’s positions east of the canal. Again small arms fire was used. One Egyptian soldier was killed and another wounded, an Israeli spokesman said. Israel has lodged a complaint with the UN truce observers corps. About 75 Egyptian soldiers surrendered during the day to Israeli forces on the west bank of the canal. Over 100 truckloads of supplies have been transferred meanwhile to the Third Army.
Yesterday, elements of the Third Army attempted to move eastwards to the Jiddi Pass and westward to construct an infantry bridge across the Suez Canal. They were repulsed by Israeli artillery fire. But sources indicated that part of the Egyptian plan is to lure Israel into opening fire so that the entire front could erupt at once. Egypt’s military moves are also believed to be intended to prompt political efforts primarily by the U.S. to force Israel to accept Egyptian terms coordinated with Moscow. The Egyptians are persistent in their efforts to drag the Russians into greater involvement in this war. They are convinced that Moscow would not permit Israeli forces to approach Cairo and thus feel free to commit the Cairo garrison to the Suez front, sources said.
There were signs, meanwhile, that the Third Army lacks neither food nor water although it is being supplied with both by agreement of the Israeli Army. The Third Army, as if to support the Egyptian claim that it is still a fighting force, attempted yesterday to throw an infantry bridge across the canal at kilometer 155, only five kilometers from the southern outlet of the waterway. Israel warned the Egyptians, through the UN observers, but the Egyptians continued construction work. Israelis opened fire and the exchange lasted several hours at the end of which the bridge was destroyed. Artillery, mortar and small arms fire were used. In the morning the Egyptians attempted to advance their Infantry eastwards to improve their positions. Fire was opened and the attempt was discontinued. Egyptian soldiers also fired from the east side of the canal at Israelis on the west bank of the canal. Fire was returned and the shooting subsided after some time.