UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Nov. 16)
Israel today sharply accused Syria at a meeting of the Security Council here of deliberately planning an “act of provocation” by attacking three Israeli villages on the northern frontier last Friday and alleged that Friday’s “sinister” attacks “suggest that there were forces in Syria bent on stirring up trouble in the broad context of Arab affairs.”
It requested that the Council insist that Syria refrain “from all further attacks upon or interference with Israel activities in the border zone, and in particular, all firing across the border” as well as “from all further threats against the political independence and territorial integrity of Israel.
The charges against Syria and the request for stern action against repetition of attacks like those that occurred last Friday and “hundreds” of others were voiced by Israel Ambassador Michael Comay before a crowded emergency session of the Council this afternoon when the 11-member body met to consider charges and counter-charges of aggression by Syria and Israel.
Immediately after Adlai E. Stevenson, chairman of the United States delegation and this month’s Council, convened the meeting Secretary General U Thant made the following statement:
“I wish to inform the Council at the outset of this discussion that, as a matter of course, I have asked the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, Lt. General Odd Bull, to submit to me a full factual report on this recent and unfortunate outbreak of fighting between Israel and Syria, which will be as thorough and accurate as General Bull and his observers can make it on the basis of the investigation they are conducting.
“I have received some information already but it is preliminary and fragmentary, and I feel that it should not be submitted until the investigation is concluded and the full report has been received. I will, naturally, submit the report to the Security Council as quickly as possible, which should be available shortly.”
Rafik Asha, Syria’s permanent representative here, was the first of the disputants on the speakers list, accusing Israel in a lengthy, emotion-packed speech of having initiated the last weekend’s hostilities “by wanton aggression against my country.” He charged that Israel’s use of air power, which Israel insists was purely a defensive measure, had constituted a “carefully planned and premeditated, treacherous and savage aerial bombardment.”
Contrary to Israel’s assertion that Israel’s air strike did not take place until Syria had refused to accept a cease fire arrangement made by UNTSC, Mr. Asha claimed that Israeli planes had attacked not gun emplacements but “three peaceful villages in addition to our defensive positions.” As a result, he said, the Syrian losses were seven dead and 26 injured.
AMBASSADOR COMAY PRESENTS DETAILS TO SECURITY COUNCIL
In his calm presentation of the facts to the Security Council, Mr. Comay told the body that Syria has been violating the United Nation’s Charter and the 1949 Syrian-Israeli armistice agreement consistently and repeatedly for the last 15 years. He told the Council that only ten days prior to last Friday’s fighting a party of Israeli workmen repairing the road on the Syrian border where Friday’s attack had occurred “were fired at from the Syrian side and were rescued only after a sharp exchange of fire in which two Syrian tanks joined.”
Mr. Comay said that as a result of that attack Israel had complained to the Mixed Armistice Commission “and the investigation showed that the Syrian charge of encroachment across the border was unsubstantiated.” Asserting that the roadway where an Israeli patrol was attacked by Syria last Friday “is wholly on the Israel side of the border,” Mr. Comay declared “the Syrian story that the Israel patrol launched a suicidal attack against their position is too absurd for serious attention.”
The Israel ambassador told the Council that he has learned that three Israeli villages and not two had been attacked by the Syrians. In addition to bombarding Kibbuts Dan and Shear Yashuv the Syrians had also attacked the Kibbutz of Dafna. “Here too,” he said, “extensive damage was inflicted to the buildings, orchards and crops.”
He expressed an assumption that fuller particulars about the Syrian bombardment will be contained in the forthcoming United Nations investigation report. He circulated to the members of the Council a map showing the relative positions of the Syrian gun emplacements on the heights overlooking the border and the Israeli villages below those hills.
“What I wish to stress,” Mr. Comay said, “is that these villages contain peaceful civilian communities, not involved in the initial attack or the response to it. The heavy and accurate shell fire poured onto the villages had no military reason. This action ranks among the most brutal and large-scale onslaughts on the population which even this unhappy border has seen. If the inhabitants had not immediately taken shelter, and if the Syrian guns had not been silenced, the casualties and destruction would have been far greater than they actually were.”
“Israel planes went into action as a last resort, after the shelling of the villages had continued for 45 minutes, and after an appeal by the United Nations representatives for a cease-fire had been accepted on the Israel side but ignored by the Syrians. No other effective means was available in the area by which the shelling could have been halted. The sole purpose of this air strike was to suppress gun positions which were operating at the time against our population and territory. That purpose was achieved, and the cease fire was accepted and came into operation immediately afterwards. My government accepts full responsibility for this defensive measure. It was left with no alternative course of action, in discharge of its obligation to defend the state against attack.”
COUNCIL RECESSES TO AWAIT FULL REPORT FROM GENERAL BULL
After some further but brief attacks against Israel by Mr. Asha and by Dey Ould Sidi Baba, of Morocco, who is a member of the Council, Mr. Stevenson recessed the meeting pending the receipt of a full report on the Syrian Israeli situation from General Bull. Mr. Stevenson said he would consult the other members of the Council about the date and time for the next session after Mr. Thant informs him of the receipt of the Bull report.
Mr. Comay had asked Mr. Asha pointedly a series of questions about Syrian’s intentions regarding its desires for war or peace. He challenged the Syrian to tell the Council “right here and now” whether Syria intends to honor its 1949 armistice agreement or “at least that his government is prepared to renounce the use of force as a means of resolving conflict.” Although Mr. Asha took the floor again after Mr. Comay had spoken, he failed to answer these pointed questions.”