JERUSALEM (May. 27)
The United Nations truce organization began separate investigations on the Israel and Jordan sides of the demarcation line today into the Mt. Scopus shooting affray which yesterday cost the lives of Lt. Col. George A. Flint, chairman of the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission, and four Israeli policemen.
The separate investigations began after UN truce chief Maj. General Carl G. von Horn failed to secure Jordanian agreement to a joint investigation on the spot by the UN, Jordan and Israel and to an alternative proposal that all witnesses be questioned at UN headquarters in the presence of Jordanian and Israeli representatives. Gen. Horn met the Jordan and Israeli representatives at UN headquarters this morning.
The UN had to abandon a plan to interrogate witnesses in Shulamit’s Garden, a section of the Hebrew University’s Botanical Gardens where Col. Flint and the four policemen were killed yesterday. Jordan refused to guarantee that fire would not be opened on the UN investigators and the Israeli witnesses. Israeli witnesses will consequently be questioned inside the Hadassah Hospital building on Mt. Scopus.
The Jordan radio officially admitted today that Jordanian forces had first opened fire yesterday. It asserted that an Israel patrol had crossed the demarcation line in the direction of Issawaia village, whereupon the Jordanians opened fire. The bodies of the slain Israelis and of Col. Flint were all found on Israel territory.
(Memorial services for Col. Flint were held this afternoon in St. Andrews Church, Jerusalem. The slain UN official was eulogized at the opening of the United Nations Security Council this afternoon. In Ottawa, Premier John Diefenbaker and former External Affairs Minister Lester B. Pearson paid tribute to the late Canadian officer who “died in the service of peace.” The Israel delegation to the United Nations expressed a “profound sense of shock and grief” over Col. Flint’s death. At Washington, the State Department expressed its grief, stating that Col. Flint’s died “in performance of his duty during an exchange of gunfire between Israelis and Jordanians on Mt. Scopus near Jerusalem.”)
United Nations sources disclosed today that Col. Flint had been in touch by walkie-talkie with UN headquarters in Jerusalem’s no-man’s land almost to the moment he was struck down by gunfire. However, they refused to disclose the content of Col. Flint’s walkie-talkie reports, contending that information was a basic part of the official investigation. Jordan newspapers asserted that the UN official’s last statement, via the walkie-talkie equipment, was that he was being fired upon from the Israel side.
United Nations sources did deny a Jordanian claim that the entire incident took place near Issawia village which the Jordanians claim was attacked by Israel. The UN confirmed that Col. Flint and the four police fell in the area known as Shulamit’s Garden.
According to the 1948 Scopus demilitarization agreement signed by both Jordan and Israeli, the area is in the Israel sector but Jordan, in recent weeks, has renewed claims to the area.
When an Israel patrol entered the disputed area yesterday, an area patrolled by Israel since 1948, the Jordanians apparently decided to assert their claim by force and opened fire on the patrol. Today, however, Israel police carried out two routine patrols in the area without interference from Jordan.