Syrians Open Mortar Fire on Israeli Village; Incident Considered Grave
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Syrians Open Mortar Fire on Israeli Village; Incident Considered Grave

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The Israeli village of Gonan, in the Huleh area, was brought under mortar and machine gun fire today and one Israeli civilian was killed and seven Israeli border patrolmen were wounded in the most serious outbreak along the Israel-Syrian border in recent months.

Firing, which began at noon from Syrian positions, continued throughout the day despite three United Nations cease-fire demands and, as night fell here, it became known that the Syrians had heeded a fourth cease-fire call timed at 9:45 PM local time

The matter was considered by the Israel Cabinet, which was in session at the time the incident began. Col. Byron Leary, acting chief of staff of the UN Truce Supervision Organization, who was in Damascus today, was informed of developments and contacted the Syrian Government to ask for a cease-fire. Later, he was summoned to Jerusalem for urgent talks with Dr. Walter Eytan, director-general of the Foreign Ministry. He arrived this evening.

An Israeli army spokesman said that firing began at noon when a Syrian machine gun unit opened on an Israeli border patrol. One Israel was hit immediately. The patrol returned the fire and the Syrians resorted to mortars, Israeli reinforcements were brought up to extricate the patrol. UN sources said that the Syrians entrenched on a ridge overlooking the Israeli positions, had also suffered casualties. The first UN cease-fire demand came at 2:45 PM, the second at 6:30, the third at 7:30 and the fourth at 9:45–all issued by Col. J. Mce, chairman of the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission.

A military spokesman today announced that an Israeli chemical spraying plane, fired upon by Jordanian gunners at Gesher near the Jordan border yesterday, was damaged but its pilot was able to complete his spraying assignment before crash-landing the plane. The pilot was not hurt. One wing of the plane, owned by the Agro-Chemical Company, was damaged. Daniel Agronsky, son of Mayor Gershon Agron of Jerusalem, who was wounded last month during spray preparations near the Gaza Strip border, is a director of the company.

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