Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Israeli Commandos Cut Amman Aqaba Routes in Reprisal for Jordanian Bombardments

December 3, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Kingdom of Jordan protested to the United Nations Security Council today against an Israeli attack Sunday into Jordanian territory, but it did not ask for a meeting of the Security Council to consider its complaint. Jordan had been expected to suck Security Council action as it had in the past following other Israeli reprisal actions. However, it asked merely that its complaint be circulated to members of the Council.

Ambassador Muhammad H. el-Farra, the Jordanian representative, said in his letter to Endalkachew Makonnen of Ethiopia, this month’s president of the Security Council, that the Israel action undermined the efforts of UN Middle East peace envoy Gunnar V. Jarring, who has just returned to his Nicosia, Cyprus headquarters. He conferred there today with Foreign Minister Abba S. Eban of Israel.

In Sunday’s action, Israeli commandos blew up a railway bridge and a highway bridge on the two main routes linking Amman with the port of Aqaba, Jordan’s only outlet to the sea. An Israeli military spokesman said all raiders returned safely to their bases and that the two spans had been completely destroyed. No details of the raid were given. It appeared however that the Israeli commandos were transported by helicopters. Helicopters were used in an Israeli commando raid exactly one month ago which penetrated 140 miles into Egypt and destroyed two bridges and a power station.

The targets of the raid were a bridge on the Hedjaz railway line and the Wadi El Abyad highway bridge about six miles to the south of the railway bridge. Each span was about 120 feet long, located 37 miles due east of Sdom and about 60 miles south of Amman. Their destruction cut Jordan in two and blocked land communications between the capital and Aqaba which lies at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba adjacent to the Israeli port of Eilat. Amman radio said today that the Israeli commandos were landed by helicopter and covered by jet plane fire. It claimed that two civilians were killed.four wounded and six cars destroyed. According to the broadcast, the Israeli raiders “withdrew before our forces arrived on the scene.”


The lightning strike coincided with a new flare-up of fighting along the Israel-Jordan demarcation line which observers said was one of the fiercest since the June, 1967 war. Israeli sources said Jordanians used Russian-made rocket launchers against the farm settlements of Degania Aleph, Tel Katzir and Neve Or south of the Sea of Galilee. Israeli forces struck back heavily by shelling Irbid. Jordan’s second largest city. Amman radio claimed Israeli planes attacked Irbid and nearby Kfar Yub. killing two soldiers and wounding a third. It claimed that the attack on Irbid was carried out simultaneously with the commando raid many miles to the south. Israeli sources said that Irbid was attacked by planes only after Jordanians used long-range artillery to shell the civilian settlements. Amman radio said also that Israeli tanks exchanged fire with Jordanian forces in the northern Jordan Valley and claimed that two Israelis were hit. According to an Israeli spokesman, the only casualties were four cows.

An Israeli spokesman described the commando strike as a “sharp warning” to Jordan in the wake of King Hussein’s Nov. 16 agreement with terrorist groups operating on Jordanian soil. In the two weeks since then, 51 attacks by Arab guerrillas have been reported including the shelling of civilian settlements in the Jordan Valley. The heaviest attack occurred Nov. 23 when El Fatah bands launched a rocket bombardment of the potash works at Sdom on the southern shore of the Red Sea, the Israeli spokesman said.

Israeli spokesmen indicated that the pact between King Hussein and the guerrilla groups was a major factor in carrying out the raid. Apart from the increase in terrorist acts that it brought about the marauders were granted freedom of movement throughout Jordan, were given use of training camps and munitions dumps and were permitted to establish recruiting centers in Jordanian towns, the spokesmen said. In addition, Jordanian officers provide them with briefings and instruct them how and where to ford the Jordan River into Israel-held territory. Israeli sources made no mention of the Nov. 22 terrorist bomb explosion in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehudah market place as a possible reason for yesterday’s commando raid. The blast killed 12 persons and injured 55.

Recommended from JTA