JERUSALEM (Jul. 1)
American, British and French diplomatic envoys in Israel met in urgent session in Tel Aviv today to consider joint action on the most serious Arab-Israel border clash in months which flared up yesterday and this morning in Jerusalem, resulting in one Israeli dead and 23 wounded.
At the same time, Gen, Vagn Bennike, United Nations truce chief, called an urgent meeting of the Israel-Jordan armistice commission at which it was decided that an immediate investigation be started into the cause of the shooting. The shooting was started last night by Jordan’s Arab Legion with a barrage of mortars, automatic guns and grenades from its positions on the walls of the Old City into the Jewish section of the city.
Today’s meeting of the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission took place under the chairmanship of Gen. Bennike and it was for the first time in, several months that Israel participated in such a meeting. For the last few months Israel has been boycotting the Israel-Jordan MAC meetings, under the chairmanship of Lt. Commander Elmo R. Hutchinson, U.S.N., because of the refusal of the commission to condemn Jordan for the massacre of 11 Jews in the attack on a bus at the Scorpion Pass, in the Negev.
ISRAEL INFORMS SECURITY COUNCIL OF JORDAN’S ATTACK
Israel Premier Moshe Sharett, at a press conference here today said that Israel’s participation in the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission is limited to the Jerusalem flare-up. He added that Israel’s future action in relation to the MAC would be governed by future developments.
The Premier stated that he had consented to Israel’s participation in the meeting, after Gen. Bennike had called on him at noon today to request Israel’s presence at the meeting. Mr. Sharett said that the Cabinet had been kept fully informed of developments and would, if the need arose, be called into session. He also revealed that Israel had fully informed the UN Security Council of the situation and had instructed its envoys in the various world capitals to present Israel’s views on the matter to the governments to which they were accredited.
Speaking of the shooting, Mr. Sharett declared: “Jerusalem’s peace had been wantonly violated last night when the Arab Legion opened fire on Israel’s capital along the entire sector of the armistice lines within the city. It was a deliberate attack without the slightest provocation, obviously planned and centrally directed.”
There were many minor attacks within recent weeks, he continued, such as stone throwing from the Arab lines into the New City, which resulted in injury to a number of Jews and some property damage. “Last night’s attack,” he said, “resulted in a number of casualties among the peaceful inhabitants.
“In accordance with orders issued to all outposts, the Israel Army held its fire for some time. Eventually, however, in the face of increased and intensified Arab fire, it became necessary for our forces to react. When the UN approached the Israel authorities for a ceasefire, it was informed that fire had not been opened by Israel and the sooner the other side stopped firing the sooner complete calm would be restored,” Mr. Sharett reported. “With UN mediation a ceasefire was agreed to, but after a brief lull sniping from the wall by the Arab Legion was resumed, and toward morning there were further victims,” he said.
SHARETT CHARGES JORDAN WITH DELIBERATE VIOLATION OF ARMISTICE
“We are faced with a new and deliberate violation and repudiation by the Jordan Government of its obligations under the armistice agreement,” he charged. “It would appear that in the absence of any determined international reaction to the flouting by Jordan of the armistice agreement in the past has served as encouragement to that government to commit this outrage, which is an offense almost to the entire civilized world no less than to Israel.
“Jerusalem will withstand this test just as it withstood similar and graver trials in the past,” he pledged. “Life in the capital is proceeding normally and our defense army will continue to refrain from any act of provocation and will resort to no action which is liable to aggravate the situation, but it will maintain vigilance and stand ready to repel any attack and strike back at the aggressor,” Mr. Sharett warned.
The firing broke out about 8 PM yesterday when Arab Legionnaires fired into streets of the New City which are a stone’s throw from the Jordan positions. Sporadic firing continued until about 9:30 PM, when UN observers issued and enforced a ceasefire.
Some time later, the Arabs resumed their firing and at about midnight Israeli troops–for the first time–replied. They poured shots into Arab Legion positions for about 15 minutes, then stopped. The Jordanians kept up their shooting until about 2 AM. Casualties up to last night amounted to eight wounded.
Early this morning, the Legionnaires resumed their fire. Among the wounded last night was 48-year-old Moshe Goldberg, a rabbi from Paris who had come to Israel to attend the World Congress of the Agudas Israel. His condition today was said to be serious.
(In Washington, the State Department was closely studying diplomatic dispatches reporting on the flare-up of military action in the Jerusalem area, Department sources said today.)