Israeli Jets Shoot Down 3 Egyptian Mlgs in Fierce Combat over Suez Canal
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Israeli Jets Shoot Down 3 Egyptian Mlgs in Fierce Combat over Suez Canal

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Israeli jet fighters today shot down three Egyptian MIG-21 interceptors in a ferocious fight involving air-to-air missiles and cannons over the Suez Canal sector and returned to base without any losses, a military spokesman said. Egypt claimed that it lost one plane, shot down an Israeli jet and damaged another.

The downing of the Egyptian planes brought to 58 the number of the Cairo Government’s air losses since the 1967 war, as against nine Israeli losses including one Piper Cub, the Israeli military spokesman said. The fight was the first since Oct. 16 when Israel said there were three MIG “kills.”

The fighting, at 20,000 feet, developed about 8:30 a.m. local time when Israeli planes were attacking Egyptian military targets in the southern region of the Suez Canal. An Israeli military spokesman said that Israeli jets returned to action in the afternoon, bombing Egyptian military positions, including gun emplacements, for 45 minutes. A senior military officer, commenting on the air battle, attributed the appearance of Egyptian jets to “excessive self-assurance that Egypt has mastered air supremacy with their futile attacks on Israeli positions along the Canal and in northern Sinai. It is hoped that today’s losses will cool down the Egyptians.”

The fighting came in the wake of a high-ranking Israeli military officer’s statement Monday that all Egyptian ground-to-air missile sites along the Canal had been knocked out in two months of air strikes. He said that an unspecific number of radar stations had been damaged or destroyed, and that Egyptian mortar and artillery positions have “taken a serious beating.” His remarks were interpreted to mean that the whole 250-mile Egyptian front from Port Said to the Red Sea is now without a ground-to-air missile defense net against Israeli air attacks. In the air war over the Suez on Monday, Egyptian planes hit two points on the eastern shore of the Canal but no casualties or damage was reported. Israeli planes struck Egyptian targets on the Canal’s west bank.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Cabinet met in its third session in as many days to consider the Security situation. The Tel Aviv afternoon daily newspaper Yediot Achronot said today that “political circles are increasingly convinced that aggressive military action on the frontiers will compel Israel to take appropriate and smashing reactions that would deter the enemy from further pursuing its aggressive policy.” Since early September when there was a major Israeli amphibious action against Egypt’s west coast on the Gulf of Suez, there have been constant air actions aimed at radar sites, missiles and anti-aircraft emplacements and other military targets. Israel frightened and angered the Egyptians last week when it sent a lone Mirage jet flying low at supersonic speed over Cairo, presumably on a photographic mission. Its sonic boom broke many windows throughout the city.


In the wake of the Israeli senior military officer’s announcement that the Israeli raids destroyed at least nine surface-to-air-sites for Soviet-built missiles and left open a corridor through which Israeli jets can penetrate Egypt at will, 13 Arab states decided in Cairo to hold a summit conference on Dec. 20 in Rabat, Morocco.

The heads of states and governments will confer in the Moroccan capital to prepare for a military confrontation with Israel, it was announced at the conclusion of a three-day meeting of the Arab League’s Joint Defense Council. The parley, attended by 13 of the League’s 14 members (Tunisia boycotted the meetings) was called to “mobilize all Arab energies” against Israel. A closing communique said force was the only means of recovering the occupied territories. The delegations pledged to give full support to Palestine guerrilla organizations.

Saudi Arabia, which previously opposed a summit parley, apparently put aside its objections. It had said that a summit session should take place only after the Arab states had given up hope on a political solution. President Gamal Abdel Nasser said in a speech last week that war with Israel was inevitable.

The Joint Defense Council’s final communique said “a political solution has failed and has run into an impasse due to Israel’s obstinacy and the military support it gets from the United States and other imperialist powers…Large scale political mobilization and comprehensive and complete military preparedness (is required) in readiness for the inevitable upcoming battle.” The communique assailed as “aggressive” the U.S. policy of permitting its citizens to serve in the Israeli military forces without losing their U.S. citizenship. This, the Council said. “places America in a position of challenge and open confrontation against the ambitions and aspirations of Arab nations.”

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