Friday,26 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1321, (24 - 30 November 2016)
Friday,26 April, 2019
Issue 1321, (24 - 30 November 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Warships moving on Suez

Al-Ahram Weekly

Below from the Guardian Archives story by the newspaper’s corrspondent in Port Said on Friday 2 November 1956.

“Allied carrier and land based aircraft yesterday continued the strafing of Egyptian airfields, while British and French naval forces were reported to be approaching the Suez Canal from the north and south.

“The announcement that the warships were on the move was made by a spokesman for the French Defence Ministry, who said also that the sustained air offensive was designed to destroy as many of the Egyptian planes on the ground as possible.

“Nine airfields were attacked yesterday -- the four which were bombed on Wednesday and five more in the Delta and Canal Zone. An Allied Forces communiqué said that low-level bombing replaced bombing from a medium level and there were no Allied losses.

“The Israelis claimed that the Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula were in ‘full and disorderly retreat’ and were abandoning most of their equipment. Their forces had collapsed completely and about twenty thousand men were trying to extricate themselves. The Israeli Embassy in Washington stated that the President Nasser had personally ordered a general retreat to the west.

“After announcing the capture of the base of Rafah, at the southern end of the Gaza strip, the Israelis reported that their forces had pushed on to the coast at El Arish, sealing off the whole of the strip.

“BLOCKSHIP SUNK : Allied headquarters in Cyprus reported that an Egyptian block ship, which was being towed into a sinking position across the Lake Timsah channel halfway down the Suez Canal, was attacked and sunk by British naval aircraft. It was believed to have sunk clear of the channel. Egyptian reports that this was a deliberate attempt to block the canal were denied.

“President Nasser proclaimed martial law throughout the country and made himself the Military Governor-General of Egypt. He went on to the air to tell the people that arms were available to every Egyptian citizen. There would be no surrender and they would ‘fight from village to village.’ He broke off diplomatic relations with Britain and France.

“Jordan informed Britain it would not allow the Royal Air Force to use Jordanian bases against Egypt. Iraq declared martial law throughout the country, protested to Britain over the attack on Egypt, and called a meeting of Baghdad Pact States without Britain.

“The Foreign Office, commenting on an Israeli statement calling on Egyptian forces to surrender because their Air Force was about to be put out of action by ‘Anglo-French-Israeli bombing,’ stated that the British and French aims in Egypt were ‘quite distinct” from Israel’s. ‘Suggestions that Britain was concerting military action with Israel were entirely false.’

“PRIMATE’S SOLUTION: The Archbishop of Canterbury in the House of Lords yesterday urged the British Government to say to Israel that if it would withdraw its forces in within its own bounds, France and ourselves would not intrude into Egypt. We could then surely say that all the statesmen of the world would see ‘that Israel shall not suffer for its obedience or longer have to live under continuous threats.’

“Sir Walter Monckton, who a fortnight ago resigned as Minister of Defence to become Paymaster-General with a seat in the Cabinet, has been appointed to co-ordinate all the Government’s information services during the present operations in Egypt. He was Director-General of the Ministry of Information early in the Second World War and later became Director-General of British propaganda and information services in Cairo.

“The Labour party Executive, the Trades Union Congress General Council, and the National Council of Labour held emergency meetings yesterday and laid plans for a ‘Law, not War’ national campaign against the Government’s actions. Mr Bevan will open it in Trafalgar Square on Sunday. The movement has declared itself opposed to industrial action in bringing pressure to bear on the Government.

“Russia announced that she had called for a second Bandung conference of Asian and African countries, which would demand the withdrawal of British, French, and Israeli troops from Egypt.”

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