PARIS (Mar. 6)
The B-17 en route from Israel to South America which was forced down last week at Bone, Algeria, by engine trouble will depart for Lydda airport tonight, together with the plane which brought a spare engine and a gang of mechanics, it was announced here.
However, though the Flying Fortress and its crew have been released, the three-ton cargo of arms valued at $80, 000 remains impounded in Algeria under a French customs detention order. The Israel Government has explained that the arms were sold to a friendly Latin American Government and were in Algeria only in transit and in accordance with a previously filed flight plan which called for stopovers at Algiers and Dakar.
Meanwhile, the French Government has decided not to publish any official statement on the incident. The Israel Government will not protest detention of the plane and the holding of its cargo in order not to jeopardize relations with France. It is believed here that the incident has been blown up all up all out of proportion because of inter-ministerial rivalry in the French Government.
Israeli military attache Col. Pl Kadar left Algiers after vainly trying to contact the crew of the B-17, which includes one Israeli national. He hoped to contact the crew before it took off for the return flight to Lydda.
The six-man crew was engaged in Israel to fly the plane, sold to an American company just prior to this flight. The arms, including several hundred bazookas, four mortars and 100 submachine guns, and the plane were sold by the Israel’ Ministry of Defense as obsolete.