National Geographic : 1975 Jun
-- .~ ---- - -- - L--- r.. -- 815 Suez, the east bank nonetheless bore fearful scars of conflict (page 813). Where the Bar Lev Line's continuous ridge of sand once dominated the canal, there remained only shattered bunkers, empty gun pits, and great slabs of reinforced concrete strewn about like piles of discarded shingles. Fire Hoses Become Surprise Weapons Unable to breach the line by conventional means, Egyptian assault engineers hit on a novel technique. One early morning in Oc tober 1973, they slipped across the canal with pumps and ordinary fire hoses, and washed away the rampart of sand between Israeli strongpoints, allowing tanks and infantry to pour through the gaps. Demolition teams lat er destroyed the abandoned defenses to pre vent their reuse against Egypt. At the time of our visit the United Nations buffer zone lay some ten miles east in Sinai, but for security reasons we were permitted a look at only the first six. The view was none theless grim, a sweeping panorama of rolling dunes endlessly flecked with the debris of combat. On every side stood clusters of burned-out trucks and troop carriers, the tortured shapes of wrecked artillery, and nearly a hundred charred and disabled tanks. The sight called to mind Harry Jensen and his problem with rust aboard the freighter Marit. Under the lash of desert winds, Egyptian sand does a highly efficient job, scouring not only paint and rust but also the steel beneath it to a dark luster befitting the forlorn remnants of war. Several members of our group were anx ious to photograph a disabled tank, and our Egyptian hosts became strangely solicitous. Time and again a likely prospect was re jected for fear of surrounding minefields, for poor composition, or simply for "security reasons." It dawned on me slowly that the tanks in question were all Soviet-made and therefore Egyptian losses. At length our Picking up the pieces, laborers clear shat tered buildings near a surviving railroad station in the city of Suez. Rubble will re build the causeway to Port Taufiq. South ernmost of canal cities, Suez was destroyed largely by Israeli guns and planes. Now its 270,000 residents trickle back and begin the costly task of rebuilding.