TEL AVIV (Oct. 24)
A cease-fire went into effect on the Egyptian front at 7 a.m. today (1 a.m. NY time) and a cease-fire was also accepted by Syria on the northern front which was reported all quiet this morning. The cessation of hostilities was arranged between Israel and Egyptian forces through Maj. Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo of Finland, chief of the United Nations Truce Observers Organization. Gen. Siilasvuo was reported this morning to be posting his observers along the cease-fire lines. An Israeli army spokesman announced this afternoon, however, that the Egyptian Third Army on the west side of the Suez Canal was continuing hostilities despite Egypt’s acceptance of the truce. The Third Army was attempting to break out of Israeli encirclement in the southern sector of the canal zone, the spokesman said. According to Israeli sources, the Third Army, commanded by Gen. Abdel Munem Wazel, consists of 20,000 men and 200 tanks. In terms of Western armies, this force would be of little more than division size.
By this evening, however, an Israeli army spokesman said that the efforts made by the Third Army to extricate itself from the encirclement by the Israeli forces have failed. All Third Army attacks during the day were repulsed and the Egyptians, who supplied heavy air force support to bolster their Third Army efforts, lost 15 MIG-21s in dogfights with Israeli air force planes. These futile efforts lasted till this evening when the area became quiet. Gen. Haim Herzog announced that the Third Army was in the process of disintegration and that the Egyptian soldiers were surrendering en masse.
(At the United Nations in New York, Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah lodged a formal complaint with Secretary General Kurt Waldheim today that Egypt was violating the second cease-fire agreement. In a letter addressed to Waldheim this afternoon Tekoah charged that despite the cease-fire arranged by Gen. Siilasvuo this morning, “Egyptian forces have continued to violate the cease-fire in the area of the Suez-Cairo road and south of the Bitter Lakes, employing tanks, artillery and aircraft.” Tekoah said that at 3:30 p.m. today Israel time, his government had lodged a similar complaint with the chief of staff of the UN Truce Supervision Organization.)
The cease-fire, the second in two days, followed by several hours the unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council of a joint U.S.-Soviet resolution that confirmed the original cease-fire of Oct. 22 and called on the forces of both sides to return “to the positions they occupied at the moment the (Oct. 22) cease-fire became effective.” The resolution, adopted 14-0 with China once again refusing to participate in the vote, also instructed the Secretary General to immediately dispatch UN truce observers to supervise the cease-fire, “using for this purpose the personnel of the UN now in the Middle East and first of all the personnel now in Cairo.” (Of the 220 UN truce observers in the Middle East when war broke out Oct. 6, 42 are now in Cairo and 39 are in Jerusalem. Four are at posts in the Sinai and Gaza Strip. A UN spokesman said in New York yesterday that the fate of two observers unheard from since the day the war started has not been determined.)
The second cease-fire was necessitated by violations of the first within hours after it went into effect at 7:12 p.m. local time Monday. During the more than 24 hours of fierce fighting between Israeli and Egyptian forces on both banks of the Suez Canal which followed, Israel claimed to have greatly improved its position on the west bank of the canal. No changes were reported in the military positions on the northern front. Syria did not accept the Oct. 22 cease-fire but agreed to accept the truce called for last night. In the interim, Israel reported that its naval and air units inflicted heavy damage on Syria’s oil network. Naval units set fire yesterday to oil tanks in the port of Banias south of Latakia and air force planes attacked an underground oil depot near Damascus, a military communique said.
When the cease-fire went into effect this morning, Israel said its forces had completed their encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army by the capture of El Addabiyeh, a small port on the west shore of the Gulf of Suez about ten miles south of the town of Suez, the southern terminus of the canal. The capture of El Addabiyeh severed the last road link between the Suez Canal zone and the rest of Egypt. Israeli forces were in control of two other roads and a railroad when the original cease fire went into effect Monday. Israeli sources said the military position on the west bank of the canal was of utmost strategic importance. Israel now controls an area containing oil refineries, railway lines and junctions, power stations and army camps, some of them dating back to World War II, and three air fields.