JERUSALEM (Sep. 6)
Both Egypt and Israel were found guilty today for the clash on August 22 near Mefalsim, on the Israel-Egyptian frontier which touched off a series of incidents which took more than 100 lives in the past two weeks and almost terminated the Israel-Egyptian armistice.
Egypt was condemned for living predicated the incident by attacking an Israel patrol. and for shelling the settlement of Nahal Oz. Israel was condemned for having stormed the Egyptian military post which had opened fire on the Israel patrol. The double censure was voted by the Israel-Egypt Mixed Armistice Commission in a 14-hour “emergency” session which concluded today Major Francois Giacommagi chairman of the commission and member of the United Nations truce organization first voted with Egypt to censure Israel over the incident and then voted with Israel to censure Egypt.
The incident arose when an Egyptian military post opened fire on a routine Israel patrol moving along the demarcation line inside Israel territory. The patrol was caught on flat terrain with no cover from the Egyptian fire. To extricate it Israel authorities dispatched reinforcements in halftracks They captured the Egyptian post disarmed its garrison and held the point for two hours before withdrawing. An Egyptian officer and three soldiers were killed in the encounter and nine were wounded. The Egyptians then directed heavy gunfire on the nearby settlement of Nahal Oz wounding two Israel soldiers.
The Egyptian complaint which received priority in the commissions discussions charged that the attack was a well-organized preconceived action to disturb the relative tranquility of the border and compel Israel-Egyptian meetings on a higher level than the local commanders. The Egyptians denied the Israel version and alleged that the Israelis had initiated the attack on the Egyptian hilltop position but in the course of the debate the Egyptians withdrew their allegations that it was a premeditated Israel attack.
The Mixed Armistice Commission denied the Egyptian resolution but condemned Israel for the attack on the hilltop. The commission then condemned Egypt for having started the trouble by opening fire on the patrol and for the subsequent shelling of Nahal Oz The shelling of the settlement the commission held “constituted a flagrant violation of the armistice agreement” It called on Egypt to “take all necessary measures to cease such violations”
Major Gracommag# told the Commission that “in the course of this serious incident both parties committed flagrant violations of the armistice agreement However after careful study of investigation reports of UN military observers and after listening to the conflicting statements of the parties it is in my opinion impossible to determine which side opened fire first.
“Both parties have now agreed to an unconditional cease-fire and (strongly appeal to them to adhere fully to the armistice and Mixed Armistice Commission provisions to withdraw all prohibited weapons and vehicles from the defensive area and to exercise rigid control over their troops which should be composed only of regular well-trained and disciplined military units.”
The bodies of two Israel soldiers who were killed Sunday night when an Israel patrol accidentally crossed the demarcation line between Rafa and Khan Yunis were delivered last night by an Egyptian honor guard to an Israel honor guard near kilometer 95 Mixed Armistice Commission headquarters The body of a third soldier stain in the clash is still missing.