JERUSALEM (Jul. 5)
The Jordan Government must bear full responsibility for the “barbaric shelling of Israel’s capital for three days, for jeopardizing the lives of innocent people and for endangering the Holy Places of three religions,” Pinchas La von, Israel Defense Minister told Parliament today in reviewing the events of last week in which three persons were killed and 27 wounded in Israel.
Immediately after the Defense Minister concluded his report, the deputies held a debate on the government’s handling of the Jerusalem battle, which was opened Wednesday when Arab Legionnaires on the walls of the Old City began firing into the New City’s main thoroughfares with automatic weapons, mortars and grenades. The Mapai, General Zionists and Mizrachi–government parties–upheld the government policy of cooperating with the, Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission in this affair. The Mapam attacked the role of the Western Powers in the Arab-Israel conflict, while the rightist Herut group and the Communists criticized the coalition government.
Mr. Lavon declared that Israel had “clear proof” that the Jordanian Government had planned and carried out the attack on Jerusalem. He said that the Arab Legion had planned the attacks several weeks ago and had brought into the city three additional battalions, two of Legionnaires and one of national guards. He rejected the theory that the shooting was begun by “nervous” troops, noting that green troops are not placed in front line positions and, further, that “nervousness” rarely lasts three days.
CITY PREVENTED FROM BECOMING A HEAP OF RUBBLE, LAVON SAYS
He reported that he had instructed the Israeli troops to restrain themselves, although he knew that restricting their freedom of action hampered their situation. But, he emphasized, this had to be done to ensure that “the Holy City would not become a heap of rubble. ” As a result, he went on, not a single Holy Place was hit.
He explained that despite its misgivings, the Israel Government had agreed to participate in the Israel – Jordan MAC meetings on this matter, but not under the chairmanship of Lt. Commander Elmo R. Hutchinson. “I admit without blushing that my colleagues and I decided to participate in the MAC to give the UN a chance to show that it can judge rightly, not as in the case of Scorpion Pass. Jerusalem will not be a second Scorpion Pass,” he continued, but if by this “brutal and cowardly” attack the Jordanians hoped to “scare the Jews they failed utterly.”
Reviewing the course of events on Lake Tiberias last week, where an Israeli patrol boat was fired on and two Israelis killed and five wounded, the Minister noted bitterly that Israel had been condemned by the MAC for firing back at the Arabs, He insisted that despite all considerations the Israeli Army would defend Israel’s soil. “It is the meanest lie that Israel contemplates an attack, ” he declared. “We want peace, but we will not yield our natural right to defend our liberty and sovereignty.”