Eshkol Warns Israel Will Decide When, How to Counterattack Syria
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Eshkol Warns Israel Will Decide When, How to Counterattack Syria

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Premier Levi Eshkol made it clear today that, while Israel will not remain passive over Syrian border incursions, the place, time and form of Israeli response would be decided by Israel.

In his first public address since an El Fatah group ambushed an Israeli border patrol whose jeep detonated a mine Saturday night, killing four policemen and wounding two others, the Premier told a Paratroopers Day celebration at Ramat Gan that acts of sabotage and murder would be reacted to — but that Israel would decide when and how.

“Syria has already learned that we are able to defend the lives of our citizens and our sovereignty,” he told the paratroop officers. “Syria will learn again in the future at a time when we think fit. Meanwhile, let Syria think and consider its acts and turn away from present methods.”

The Premier also commented on Arab propaganda and on false reports emanating from Damascus, as well as on Soviet charges that Israel was planning with other countries to invade and overthrow the current leftist Syrian regime. “Israel is an open country,” he said. “Any foreign journalist can come and see the factual position. He can also come and see in Jerusalem what the saboteurs did and what happened to the border policemen near the Syrian border.”


Mr. Eshkol met this morning with Walworth Barbour, the United States Ambassador to Israel, and impressed on the envoy the gravity and anguish Israel felt over the newest Syrian-sponsored raid. He was scheduled to meet later today with the Soviet, French, and British ambassadors for the same purpose.

He was expected to tell Soviet envoy Dimitri Chuvakhin that the Soviet Union bore a special responsibility for the Syrian incursions because of its influence on the Syrian regime. He was expected to urge the envoy to persuade the Soviet Union to use that influence to bring about a relaxation of tensions on the Syrian-Israel border to help preserve peace.

Additional details became known today concerning the content of the talks yesterday between Lt. Gen. Odd Bull, chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, and Moshe Sasson, head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s armistice affairs division. Mr. Sasson reportedly asked Gen. Bull not to rest content with investigating incursion incidents but to take diplomatic initiatives to prevent them.

Gen. Bull was told that threats of belligerence, including open admissions from Damascus of sabotage and murder raids against Israel, were themselves grave violations of the Syrian-Israeli armistice agreement, and should be treated as such. Israel officials expressed the hope to Gen. Bull that UNTSO would take the initiative to prevent such incidents as the Saturday night ambush.


Observers here indicated a belief that Israel would press for reconsideration of the armistice agreements to make threats of violence and admissions of breaches of the armistice no less culpable than findings of the Mixed Armistice Commission of such breaches. Meanwhile, UNTSO officials continued an investigation into both the Saturday night ambush at Shaar Hagolan and the Romema section blasts in Jerusalem a few hours earlier. Israel holds Syria responsible for both incidents.

Evidence of Syrian nervousness was reported today by observers near the border. There were sporadic shots from Syrian border gun positions, and Syrian searchlights swept the area during the night from time to time. Israeli farm workers in the valley near the border stayed away from their work today.

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