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Israel Evacuates El Arish; Hands over Sinai Capital to U.N. Forces

El Arish, the capital of Sinai, was evacuated today by Israeli forces and handed over to a Yugoslav contingent of the United Nations Emergency Force. The Israeli units halted their withdrawal at a point about 20 miles east of El Arish and are currently at a point about 18 miles from Rafah, a former Palestine border town.

Gen. Moshe Dayan, Israel Army Chief of Staff and commander of the southern front, told the press during the evacuation ceremony that he knew of no further withdrawal plans and therefore no meeting had been set with Maj. Gen. E. L.M. Burns, UNEF commander.

Gen. Dayan emphasized that the second stage of the Israeli withdrawal, completed today with evacuation of El Arish and the St. Catherine Monastery, left the Israeli forces still linked by land with Sharm El Sheik, the point at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula from which Egyptian guns barred Israeli transit to the Gulf of Akaba before Israeli forces seized the position in November.

Dr. Louis G, illend, Red Cross representative in Israel, served as “mayor” of El Arish for two hours, a period between the withdrawal of the Israeli units and the arrival of the UNEF contingent, The UNEF contingent found all regular services such as electricity and water supply functioning normally. Most military installations, including camps, warehouses and fortifications, were severely damaged, however.

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