Eshkol Warns Syria; Indicates Stand on Syria’s Close Ties with Russia

Premier Levi Eshkol, reporting to the Cabinet last night on the air raid reprisal last Thursday against Syria, stressed that Israel does not interfere with the internal regimes of Arab countries or their relations with any other powers. The statement was seen as seeking to assure the Soviet Union that Israel had no intention of interfering with the Soviet’s close ties with the leftist regime in Syria.

The Premier also addressed a warning to Syria, declaring the Syrians should not consider their country immune because of its topographical advantages. Despite those advantages, the Premier said, Israel could always find means to reply to Syrian attacks. He added that an air strike was only one of a number of possible responses.

He also said the Israel Government had hoped that the new Syrian regime would keep its pledge, given in June to Gen. Odd Bull, Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, to refrain from opening fire on Israeli targets under any circumstances. He added that after the series of terrorist incursions from Syria into Israeli territory last week, deterrent action by Israel became imperative. However, he pointed out, Israel’s Chief of Staff had been instructed to keep casualties to a minimum.

He also told the Cabinet that Israel’s air move was aimed at Syria’s “provocative” diversion project designed to rob Israel of its waters by diverting the Jordan River headwaters. The Israeli planes bombed and strafed seven to eight bulldozers working on the project at the tributary.

(At the United Nations, the Syrian delegation submitted today a complaint to the U.N. Security Council in connection with the air raid by Israel last week. However, the Syrians did not ask for any action by the Security Council on the matter. In its communication, the Syrian delegation emphasized that Syria does not consider itself responsible for the sabotage activities against Israel by Arab infiltrators.)

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