TEL AVIV (Mar. 1)
A battle which raged for several hours broke out during the night between Egyptian and Israel troops in the Gaza area when an Egyptian force invaded Israel territory. The battle developed first on Israel territory and later was carried to Egyptian territory, a military spokesman revealed here today. He said that the Israel unit which hurled the Egyptians back in retreat suffered a number of casualties and has since returned to its base.
An extraordinary meeting of the Israel Cabinet was called by Premier Moshe Sharett this afternoon, Premier Sharett reported to the Cabinet on the Israel casualties. The number of Israelis killed and wounded was not made public. (The Egyptian Government issued a statement in Cairo announcing that 37 Egyptians were killed and 30 wounded in the battle.)
A communique, considered by the Israelis as “unprecedented,” was issued later in the day by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization at Jerusalem. The “unprecedented” feature of the communique is that it was issued before the Egyptian-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission had established the facts and even before Egypt filed a protest with the commission. The communique reads:
“Last night, 28 February 1955, Israeli armed forces violently attacked the Egyptian military position near the Gaza railway station. Preliminary reports from United Nations observers indicate automatic weapons, mortars, hand grenades, Molotov cocktails and a large quantity of explosives were used. So far the casualties reported from the Egyptian side are 37 killed and about 30 wounded, very few of whom are civilians.”
(At the UN headquarters in New York, various delegations expressed amazement at the speed with which the office of Gen. E. L. Burns, Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, seemed ready to condemn Israel in connection with the flare-up of fighting along the Gaza strip.)
Last night, a military spokesman here reported that it was an Egyptian intelligence unit which was responsible for the murder last Thursday night of Henry Levy, a resident of Rehovoth. The unit which killed Mr. Levy also attacked and looted a government building near Rishon LeZion, which is some 45 miles from the Gaza strip area. The Egyptian unit, which stole some telephone apparatus and documents from the Israel building, was spotted crossing the border region early Saturday morning. An Israel patrol fired on the infiltrators, but they escaped leaving some of their loot behind.