Eshkol Warns Syria; Knesset Defeats Motion Against Retaliation
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Eshkol Warns Syria; Knesset Defeats Motion Against Retaliation

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Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, discussing the Syrian attacks in which two Israelis were killed early yesterday when their jeep was blown up by a Syrian-placed mine, told the Knesset (Parliament) today that “when all other methods fail to halt the murderers, a country must act.”

He made that statement in rejecting a motion by the Communist faction in the House which sought to enjoin the Government from retaliating against Syria through a military raid. The motion was defeated by a vote of 64-4. Instead, the Parliament acceded to Mr. Eshkol’s request that the entire issue regarding Syria be referred to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.

In speaking of the killing of the two Israelis by the Syrian mine, near the Israeli village of Almagor, the Premier said the incident was only one of a series of Arab terrorist incursions involving saboteurs that have infiltrated into Israel also from Jordan and Lebanon. However, he laid the principal blame for the terrorism on Syria.

“This Government, ” the Premier said, “like those that preceded it, cannot permit violence to be carried out by neighboring states on Israel’s borders. Israel can talk, warn, draw attention of the powers to the situation, exercise certain restraint. But, when all this leads nowhere, and murders continue — she must act to deter the murderers at the cost of further lives.”

Mr. Eshkol also replied to a statement by the Soviet Union which had declared Israeli action against Syria’s Communist-oriented Government would be “folly. ” “It is Syria’s behavior, ” he said, “and not her regime that matters. “

The tensions regarding the northern border with Syria mounted as Israeli army investigations found today that the mine near Almagor, which killed the two Israelis, had been planted by members of Syria’s army, and not by the civilian saboteurs organized in the El Fatah terrorist gangs. Israeli army investigators found, in probing the incident, that three Syrian army saboteurs had infiltrated the area near that village, coming from a Syrian military base in the immediate vicinity of the Syrian-israeli border.

The army announced also today that, last Saturday, Syrian MIG-21 jet planes flew over Israel in the vicinity of Almagor. The army said that the Syrian craft returned to Syria before Israeli jet fighters, sent aloft immediately, could engage the MIGs. Israel has filed a complaint about the overflights as well as over the fatal mine incident with the Syrian-Israeli Mixed Armistice Commission.


The tensions in Israel, following yesterday morning’s mine explosion near Almagor, have reached heights unparalleled in many months. Experienced observers have expressed fears that, unless Syria abstains from further provocations, even more serious incidents of the gravest nature may be expected.

The Jerusalem Post, discussing the Syrian border situation editorially today said, that the new wave of anti-Israeli terror is the after-effect of the attitude of “a certain world power anxious to please the Arabs. ” With such backing, stated the newspaper, the Syrians believe they are secure in continuance of their aggressions. Other newspapers today warned of the “serious consequences” to which Syria is exposing herself.

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