UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Jul. 16)
The Israel Government has taken exception to a report by Secretary-General U Thant this weekend accusing Israeli forces of “looting and removal of property” from the United Nations Emergency Force headquarters in Gaza and storage depots at Camp Rafah in the Gaza Strip.
A reply to Mr. Thant’s charges were delivered this weekend and was to be made public here tomorrow. The charges were contained in the Secretary-General’s final report to the General Assembly on the UNEF which had held positions on the Egyptian frontier from 1957 until Egypt demanded its removal on May 27, a step which triggered the six-day Arab-Israeli war.
Mr. Thant’s report conceded that some looting had been done by the local population but he argued that after the occupation of Gaza, Israel was responsible for the protection of United Nations property. Despite complaints to the Israeli U.N. mission and assurances by the local commander that steps would be taken to end the looting, Mr. Thant asserted that “even more property had been removed since the initial appeal.”
He charged that, at the Gaza headquarters, most of the furniture, typewriters, fans and other property had been removed and that all U.N. vehicles in running condition were driven off by Israeli soldiers and were seen in use in the Gaza area.
“In fact,” Mr. Thant declared, “UNEF representatives actually witnessed the removal of these items but were unable to secure any effective action by the responsible Israeli authorities to prevent it.”
The report charged that all items in Camp Rafah that could be moved were missing and that some food and medical supplies that had been intended for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency had also been stolen. The Secretary-General said that he had asked his representatives to compile detailed records of the damage done and property stolen so that a claim for compensation can be filed.