Fighting between Israeli and Egyptian forces along the Suez Canal has stopped with the arrival of United Nations observers in the battle zone.
Fighting between Israeli and Egyptian forces along the Suez Canal has stopped with the arrival of United Nations observers in the battle zone. Sharp fighting, involving artillery, tanks and aircraft, broke out Friday (14 July) at three points along the canal, near Suez in the south, and near Ismailia and Qantara in the north.
Each side accused the other of starting the fighting. According to an Israeli military spokesman, the Egyptians opened machine-gun and artillery fire on the Israeli positions across the canal from Ismailia and Qantara early Friday morning. The spokesman said the shelling was intensified in the afternoon when the Egyptians brought up tanks on the west bank. Israeli tanks reportedly returned the fire and scored hits on three Egyptian tanks. Fighting at Ismailia and Suez was also intense, and Israelis said they used aircraft to silence Egyptian gun positions near Suez.
Egypt accused Israel of the "gravest" breach of the cease-fire agreement. The Egyptian high command said Israel launched "wide-scale" artillery and air attacks on Egyptian positions between Qantara and Port Suez on the west bank of the Canal. Cairo claimed the destruction of five Israeli planes, eight tanks, 15 half-tracks, 9 trucks and two boats. Cairo said the Israelis tried to use the boats to cross the canal.
Fighting on Friday was among the heaviest since Israel and Egypt agreed to a cease-fire on June 6. Only once before, on July 8, have aircraft been used. For the last three weeks before the UN observers moved between the combatants the cease fire had been repeatedly violated, both on land and at sea, and each side has accused the other of starting the fighting.