JERUSALEM (Mar. 31)
Foreign Minister Golda Meir today summoned United Nations truce chief Maj. Gen. Carl C. von Horn and told him that the Israel Government views seriously the Syrian border violence which flared anew today in a two and a half hour battle involving tanks, artillery and machine guns.
Israeli circles would not reveal the details of the meeting. This was Gen. von Horn’s first meeting with the Foreign Minister, who only yesterday returned from a month-long African tour. An Israeli Army spokesman charged that today’s fighting began when Syrian troops opened up with 120 millimeter heavy mortars and tank cannon on Israeli workers in the Huleh reclamation area. Israel returned the fire with tanks and artillery.
It was indicated here today that the Israel Government felt some steps must be taken to prevent further shooting in the border area. Israelis said that there could be no question of the area in which the fighting occurred being in the demilitarized zone. It is land which was under the Huleh lake and only became available after a portion of the swamp-lake was drained.
The new Syrian attack got under way today as Israel Army Chief Gen. Haim Laskov toured the Huleh area with high staff officers. Like yesterday, the fighting developed following a Syrian rifle and machine gun fire on a party of civilian laborers and their police escort. Soon both sides had brought tanks and mortars into the fray. Once again the United Nations observers stationed in the demilitarized zone intervened to mediate a ceasefire. Preliminary reports said the Israelis had suffered no casualties.
Another incident yesterday which was overshadowed by the major clash near Lake Huleh occurred along a road north of Lake Tiberias when entrenched Syrian troops opened fire on a police jeep. The moving vehicle was not hit.
Dr. Francisco Urrutia of Colombia, UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold’s personal representative, arrived here today for talks with Foreign Ministry officials on the Mt. Scopus situation. The diplomat, who negotiated the latest Israel-Jordan agreement on Mt. Scopus, returned to the Middle East in an attempt to iron out the obstacles which have prevented implementation of that plan.