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Israel Denies Expulsion of Syrian Civilians, Bids Syria Negotiate Return

Israel denied today Syrian charges that she was “expelling by force” Syrian civilians from occupied Syrian territory, and said the question of the return of civilian evacuees to Israeli-held territory was a question for Israeli-Syrian negotiation.

Ambassador Gideon Rafael, Israel’s permanent representative to the U.N. told the Secretary-General that the majority of the inhabitants of the area had been evacuated by the Syrian authorities in the course of the fighting there, apparently for military considerations. “Many of these people have been in the direct employ of the Syrian army, whose camps, bases and extensive fortifications and installations had been the predominant administrative and economic factor in the area,” he said. He also challenged the accuracy of the figures used in the Syrian complaint.