JERUSALEM (Apr. 5)
Israel’s air force tonight carried out rigorous sorties against Syria in retaliation for the invasion by Syrian troops yesterday of Israeli territory in the demilitarized zone of the Huleh area and for the killing of seven Israeli civilian policemen in the village of Hamma, on the edge of the demilitarized zone.
A military spokesman here said that Israeli planes bombed Syrian military and para-military concentrations and entrenchments in the demilitarized zone. He declared that “the action was successful.” He revealed that 45 concentrations had been bombed and credited the Jewish bombardiers with “scoring good hite.” One of the targets was the police station in Hamma, he said. Other targets included fortified Syrian positions about 10 yards behind a road adjacent to the nearby boundary.
The Israeli spokesman declined to disclose the strength of the air units which participated in the operations. The retaliatory measures followed a meeting of the Israeli Cabinet today at which Brigadier Yigal Yadin, Chief of Staff of Israel’s armed forces, was present.
ISRAEL DETERMINED TO DEFEND ITS BORDERS, HIGH OFFICER SAYS
A high Israel officer told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “We are ready to repulse any attempt to infringe upon our sovereignty in any area, including the Huleh area, and to defend our borders.” He made it clear that Israel will insist on the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the demilitarized zone held by Israel and that the authorities of the Jewish state will not tolerate any Syrian interference with their reclamation of the Huleh marshes.
Col. Georges Bossavy, French chairman of the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission, was severely criticized by the Israeli spokesman for turning down an Israeli suggestion yesterday that the entire Armistice Commission–which was in session when the news of the Syrian invasion of Hamma reached Israel–should immediately proceed to the scene of the clash. The Israeli official said that the lives of the seven policemen killed by the Syrians could have been saved, had the Commission proceeded at once to Hamma.
The bodies of the dead Israelis were recovered today after intervention by United Nations observers. Several other policemen, taken prisoner by the Syrian soldiers during yesterday’s invasion, were permitted to return to Israeli territory today under an arrangement, made by the U.N. observers.
Col. Bennet de Ridder, U.N. acting chief truce officer, flew today to Damascus to discuss the situation with high Syrian officials. It is understood that he criticized Col. Bossavy for “inefficient and incompetent” handling of the situation by refusing to proceed to the scene of the clash.