Israel Presses Armistice Commission to Act on Syrian Provocations

Israel pressed the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission today for immediate action on the latest Syrian border incident in which an Israeli shepherd was killed on Israeli soil by Syrians who had crossed the demarcation line to lay an ambush. Col. Richard Rickert, Acting United Nations truce chief, was summoned to the Israel Foreign Ministry to be told of the grave view taken by the Israel Government on the continuing series of incidents involving Syrians.

A military spokesman said that shortly after noon Friday, Syrians opened fire on an Israel flock and its two shepherds on Israel territory near the Lehavot Habashan settlement in upper Galilee to which the shepherds belonged. A third kibbutz member returned the fire until reinforcements arrived to silence the Syrian gunners. The flock and one shepherd were removed. The dead herder’s body was taken back to the settlement. Israel lodged a protest with the MAC.

The Jerusalem Post, which frequently expresses the views of circles close to the government, warned today that “Israel has been acting with restraint in the last few weeks to maintain the calm along the Israel-Syrian border. But repeated Syrian provocations are reaching serious dimensions,” the Post added.

Last Friday’s murder of Yaacov Nir, a member of Lahavot Habashan village, followed the ambush and murder of Assaf Bielar of Gonen, and Mrs. Joyce Mary Doran, vacationing wife of the British air attache in Tel Aviv. In addition, two American students were kidnapped but later released by Syrian troops who captured them on Israel territory and escorted them into Syria.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Gary Schwartz, American student attending the Hebrew University, was released on 200 pounds bail by an Israel court. The New York youth is liable to a year’s imprisonment for illegally crossing the demarcation line into the Old City of Jerusalem, Jordan territory. He was arrested and held for 10 days by the Jordan authorities before his release.

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