TEL AVIV (Aug. 25)
A weekend press tour of the area near the Syrian border where two Israeli farm youths were killed last Monday night almost turned into a disaster when an Israeli truck touched off a Syrian land mine near the visiting newsmen and their military escorts.
Army officials had just explained how the Syrian infiltrators had reached a field track when a heavy truck, loaded with fertilizers, came down the road. As the reporters moved aside to make way, there was a blast and the truck halted suddenly, rocking back and forth but not overturning. Splinters of rock flew all around the group, but no one was hurt.
An on-the-spot investigation by the newsmen, including the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reporter, indicated that the mine had been planted to explode when the tractor carrying three Israeli farmhands back from the fields last week rolled over the mine. The Syrians had planned to start attacking when the mine detonated. It did not explode because it was set for detonation only by a heavier vehicle than the tractor. So the Syrian soldiers attacked, killing two of the youths. The third managed to escape.
Newsmen also visited the Ashmura section near the border, another hot spot, where they watched Israeli field workers gathering in crops. All Syrian positions in this area are high over the Israeli fields and, from a military point of view, dominate the fields. The Syrian positions in the area have been strengthened. Tanks, mostly the Soviet-made SU-100 types, were seen to have been placed in some of the positions, along with Russian recoilless guns and heavy machineguns.