TEL AVIV (May. 6)
The situation on Israel’s northeastern frontier adjoining Syria has become “seriously aggravated” in the past few days and has gone beyond armed interference by Syria in the Huleh reclamation project, Moshe Sharett, Israeli Foreign Minister and Acting Premier in the absence of David Ben Gurion, today told a press conference here. He revealed that Syrian forces had penetrated beyond the demilitarized zone farther into Israel territory, but had been driven out by Israeli troops.
Earlier in the day, it was announced officially that Minister Sharett had sent a letter to Col. Bennet de Ridder, Acting United Nations Truce Supervisor, acknowledging the U.N. official’s latest request for an immediate cease-fire. Pointing out that Israel must defend itself in the present attack, Mr. Sharett says that cease-fire orders will be issued to Jewish soldiers as soon as the United Nations has removed the threat to Israel’s security by prevailing upon the Syrians to withdraw from Israeli territory in the demilitarized zone.
The Sharett letter also asked the Acting Truce Chief what steps his organization contemplated taking to end the violation of the armistice agreement by Syrian armed forces concentrated in the demilitarized zone, adding that Israel’s accession to the cease-fire of last Friday had only served to give the Syrians additional opportunities for strengthening their positions and for renewing the attacks on Israeli territory. Besides, the letter said, the protection of Israel territory west of the demilitarized zone to which the fighting had spread, was strictly Israel’s affair and was not limited in any was by the armistice agreement.
At his press conference the Acting Premier charged that Syria’s assertion that it had no responsibility for, or control over, irregular troops in the demilitarized zone was “untenable.” He said that Israel had evidence that regular Syrian Army forces had participated in the fighting–which is in its sixth day–adding that the irregulars are being used as a “catspaw against Israel and a cloak to cover the aggressive designs” of the Arab state.
ISRAELIS DRIVE SYRIANS FROM STRATEGIC HEIGHT
Bayonet-wielding Israelis soldiers, covered by an artillery and mortar barrage, early today regained possession of the strategic height south of Tel Metulla, about two-thirds of a mile inside Israel territory, in bitter hand to hand fighting, an Israeli army spokesman announced. Syrian forces were driven back into the demilitarized zone.
The Bagdad radio, heard in Jerusalem, announced that the situation along the Israel-Syrian border was tense and that heavy fighting continued with “heavy Jewish casualties.” The announcer added that the greater part of the Syrian Army was concentrated in the border area and that the Syrian Air Force will be ordered to attack if the battle goes on.