• Short Summary

    Though little news are available on Wednesday (17 October), the battle in Sinai between Israel and Egypt looked as if it might be entering a crucial stage.

  • Description

    GV TRACKING SHOT Desert landscape in Mitla Pass (2 shots)

    GV PAN Tank and dugouts

    GV Israeli soldiers on half track (4 shots)

    GV Soldiers on escarpment

    GV PAN Phantom across sky (2 shots)

    CU Radar scanner

    GV Phantom acrose sky

    LV Vehicle along road PULL BACK TO missile carrier

    SV Anti-aircraft guns manned by Israeli soldier

    Initials BB/0206


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Though little news are available on Wednesday (17 October), the battle in Sinai between Israel and Egypt looked as if it might be entering a crucial stage. At the close of the day, Israel claimed it had destroyed around 100 Egyptian tanks along the Suez Canal and that a turning point was about to take place in the fighting for the strategic 100-mile (160 km) waterway. Israeli Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General David Elazer, said his army now held the initiative on the Suez Front.

    An Egyptian communique spoke of heavy fighting along the central and southern sectors of the Canal Front. It claimed that Egyptian forces inflicted heavy losses in planes, tanks and armoured cars on the Israelis, whom they had pushed back eastwards.

    The Egyptians said they had wiped out an Israeli commando task force operating behind their lines since Monday. General Elazar made no disclosures about the scope of their activities, but hinted that a full-scale Israeli offensive was imminent. He described today's fighting as "a hard battle", but added that this was not the major battle. Another top staff officer said that when the full story was known, Wednesday's tank battles would probably prove to be among the biggest in military history. Military sources in Tel Aviv said the two sides were heading for an engagement even bigger than the North African desert battles of World War Two.

    Meanwhile in Cairo, the mood remained confident and the Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority said a plan for clearing the waterway to traffic was ready to be acted upon. The Canal has been closed since the 1967 War.

    SYNOPSIS: The Sinai Desert, where Israel and Egypt have been fighting a bitter combat for almost a fortnight, could be described as a natural battleground. It is barren, almost devoid of population and largely flat. And as the Middle East War intensifies, there are predictions that it could be the scene of one of the biggest tank battles in history. If so, it could well take place here in the Mitla Pass, strategically the most crucial area in the peninsula. The Mitla is a mountain barrier that separates the Suez Canal from the flat sands that lead to Israel. It is the Israelis who hold this key point and they may prove hard to dislodge from its natural protection.

    According to the Israelis, they have already fought on Wednesday one of the largest than engagements of all time. They said their armour had scored impressive successes in the central sector of the Canal Front.

    Indicating that a full scale Israeli counter-offensive was imminent, Chief of Staff Lieutenant General David Elazar said a turning point was about to take place in the fight for the Canal.

    But the Egyptians claim again to have inflicted heavy losses, including the downing of twelve planes during Wednesday's clashes. They said they had pushed the Israelis back eastwards, while Israel said the Egyptians now held less territory in Sinai. The Israelis continue to maintain that air superiority is theirs -- at least as long as they are out of range of the ???ticated ??? air missiles that guard the Canal's west bank.

    The Israelis are also using missiles of both anti-tank and anti-aircraft variety, and some are highly mobile. On Wednesday, they said they had shot down five Egyptian planes and knocked out about one hundred tanks.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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