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Israel’s Chief of Staff Warns Syria Bluntly Against Repeated Attacks

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Brigadier General Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, issued a blunt warning to Syria today that Israel would not tolerate indefinitely Syrian attacks on Israeli field workers and fishermen in the Lake Tiberias area.

General Rabin made his statement after a series of three Syrian attacks on field workers in the southwestern region of the lake during the past 15 hours. Only after heavy fire was returned did the Syrians end their shooting. No casualties were reported but a number of houses in Tel Katzir and nearby Haon were hit. After an early morning attack today on Haon, the Syrians fired twice at tractors working in Haon fields. Heavy return fire silenced the Syrian gunners after a half hour on each occasion.

General Rabin issued his warning at mustering-out exercises of a group of cadets. He said: “Israel will not agree to the border area becoming a scapegoat for Syrian army revolutionary energy. Israel strives for peace and quiet on the Syrian border while safeguarding its right to develop this fertile irrigated area. If the necessity arises, the Israel army will be able to ensure this right in the future as it did in the past.”

(It was reported in London today from Damascus that Syria had called on the Arab states to meet to discuss the “Palestine issue” in isolation from recent Arab differences. Syrian Foreign Minister Jamel Aldin Farra, in a note to all Arab capitals, called for adoption of “decisive measures” to meet “dangers threatened by Israel.”)

General Rabin told the cadets that they had graduated in a new era of Israel’s security. He defined this as the need to face a threat on two fronts. He said Egypt was building its military power in both quantity and quality with the aid of new weapons while “on the northern border we hear too frequently the guns of the Syrians.”

Israel must therefore prepare itself against the increasing strength of Egypt while at the same time maintaining a constant alert “to defend our development projects and a peaceful life along the border,” he added.

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