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Israel Decides to Hold Egyptian Vessel; Will Release Its Crew

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The Israeli authorities decided today to release the seven member crew of a 150-ton Egyptian vessel but to hold the craft, which had blundered into Haifa harbor this week, pending the return of two Israeli ships held by the Egyptians.

The announcement was made by Walter Eytan, director general of the Foreign Ministry, at a press conference. He noted that in holding the Egyptian craft, the Massoud, with its cargo of salt, the Israel Government was departing from a long standing practice of releasing both ship and crew which came into Israeli waters without warlike intent.

However, in view of the persistent Egyptian refusal to release the Doron, modern fishing vessel seized on the high seas 14 months ago, and the 400 ton Bat Galim, grabbed when it attempted to negotiate the Suez Canal in 1954, Israel had decided to hold on to the Massoud. He said the vessel and its cargo would be available for claim in Haifa by its owners directly or through the United Nations.

Mr. Eytan also revealed that as recently as two weeks ago, Israel delegate Abba Eban had handed United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold a note protesting Egypt’s decision to incorporated the Doron into its merchant marine.

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