JERUSALEM (Mar. 18)
An uneasy quiet prevailed today along Israel’s Lake Tiberias border with Syria, following a Saturday dawn raid by Israeli forces which smashed into Syrian gun positions atop the heights overlooking the lake, whence Syrians have been harassing Israeli fishermen and patrols on the lake.
United Nations Military observers today started an investigation into the events that precipitated the raid. They established their headquarters in the Syrian village of El Khrushi. The UN investigation is expected to be completed tomorrow. At the same time U.S. Ambassador Walworth Barbour conferred today with Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister. He had requested the meeting, which was described unofficially as “informative.”
(In Washington, the State Department issued a brief announcement stating that word was received here that fighting had stopped. The Department added that it has been informed that “United Nations officials are in the area.”)
At least 30 Syrians were killed, one Syrian soldier brought to the gun emplacement only a few hours before the raid, was taken prisoner, and quantities of Russian-made ammunition were captured by the Israelis. Israel’s casualties included five dead and 10 wounded, six of the wounded in serious condition. According to Syrian reports, Israel allegedly suffered 200 casualties while four Israeli tanks were destroyed. Reliable Israeli sources, however, denied categorically the Syrian reports of higher casualties, repeating firmly that the Israel casualties were not greater than those reported by the Israel Army.
ISRAEL CHIEF OF STAFF REPORTS TO CABINET ON CLASH WITH SYRIA
Major General Zip Tour, Chief of Staff of Israel’s defense forces, reported on the Syrian clash to the Cabinet at its weekly meeting here this morning. Later, he discussed the events also with the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee of the Keenest, Israel’s Parliament. David Ben-Gurion, the Prime Minister, was not present at today’s Cabinet session, being absent as scheduled while on a two-week vacation.
Finance Minister Levi Eskil, as acting Premier, expressed the Government’s appreciation to the Army for its work in yesterday morning’s action. At the same time, Mr. Eshkol, on behalf of the Government, voiced Israel’s grief over the casualties. He expressed his condolences to the families of the bereaved, and his hope that the injured would recover very soon.
Mrs., Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, disclosed that the Israel Government had earlier notified Acting Secretary-General U Thant, of the United Nations, as well as Major General Carl C. von Horn, chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, that Syria’s attacks on Israeli boats on Lake Tiberias caused “a dangerous situation” in which the Syrians were “playing with fire.”
“Israel,” said Mrs. Meir, “cannot tolerate provocative acts on the part of Syria.” She said she had notified Mr. Thant of the situation last Monday and, again on Thursday. “Israel’s approach to the United Nations authorities to prevent the Syrians from carrying out these incidents,” said Mrs. Meir, “were of no avail. The Syrians continued their provocations, and attacked fishermen and police in patrol boats. Israel had no alternative but to take action against the places from which the firing was directed.”
IRAQ SEEKING TO STATION TROOPS ON SYRIAN-ISRAELI BORDER
The Israeli action was carried out by crack units of Israel’s army. Israel’s forces had not only wiped out the Syrian gun positions but had also captured about 500 Russian-made gun shells which the Syrians had been using in their 102-millimeter guns. When the Israel air force went into action, some MIG-17, Russian jets were in the sky in the vicinity. However, the MIGs disappeared when the Israeli craft took to the air.
(Beirut dispatches today reported that, at a meeting between Iraq’s Premier Abdul Karim Kassim and Syria’s President Nazem al Kodsi, the two Arab leaders decided on plans for close military and political cooperation, inviting other Arab countries to join these plans. Diplomats at Beirut reported that Iraq is seeking the stationing of Iraq troops on the Syrian-Israeli border.)