UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Jul. 30)
The Jordan Government accused Israel today of attempting to implement a “sinister plan” to deport 50,000 Palestinian Arab refugees from the Gaza Strip to Jordan and announced it had closed the King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge, halting entrance from the Israeli-held West Bank to Jordan territory. Israel denied the charge.
In a letter to Ambassador Tewfik Bouattoura of Algeria, president of the Security Council, Anton A. Naber, the Jordanian Charge d’Affaires, charged that on July 28, the Israeli authorities “carried the Gaza refugees in buses and attempted to force them to cross the King Hussein Bridge to the East Bank of Jordan. Consequently, our authorities closed the bridge and halted any entrance to the East Bank.” On July 29, according to the Jordanian letter, the Israelis “attempted to enforce the crossing of three bus loads of refugees escorted by an Israeli military force.” This attempt, it asserted, was “foiled” by Jordanian posts on the bridge. The Israelis, the letter then asserted, opened fire on Jordanian observation posts and the firing lasted for 20 minutes.
Later, the Jordanians said, the Israelis brought new groups of refugees in an operation “under the supervision of the Military Governor of the Jericho district and supported by Israeli tanks and military units.” The letter denounced “this lawless Israeli act of mass expulsion of refugees” as a threat to peace and security “with far-reaching implication both to the lives of these innocent refugees and the area as a whole.”
Jordan’s allegation that Israel is “expelling” Palestinian refugees from the Gaza area and particularly from the large Jabalia camp in the Gaza Strip “are false.” Israel’s Permanent Representative. Yosef Tekoah, informed Secretary-General U Thant today.
According to the envoy, those charges had already been answered in a letter given in Jerusalem yesterday to the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Laurence Michelmore, by Michael S. Comay, the political advisor of Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban.
In that letter, Mr. Tekoah informed Mr. Thant, Mr. Comay stated: “There is no substance to the charge conveyed to you that a concerted effort is now being made to expel…refugees from Jabalia on the ground that the heads of families are abroad. The policy of my Government remains…that no pressure is exerted on Gaza residents to leave nor are they prevented from leaving. They are free to remain or depart, in accordance with their own wishes. Nothing has been done by the military government authorities in the Gaza Strip which is inconsistent with that policy.”
Mr. Tekoah said Mr. Comay also had noted, in his letter to M. Michelmore, that only last Thursday, Israel’s Defense Minister, Gen. Moshe Dayan, visited the Gaza Strip and held a meeting with the town mayors and other representatives of the local population. “In the course of a two and a half hour discussion,” Mr. Comay reported, “these Arab notables were encouraged to raise every question of concern to them and did so with the greatest freedom. The allegations regarding the Jabalia camp were not even mentioned as they undoubtedly would have been if there had been any basis to them.” Mr. Tekoah asked Mr. Thant to circulate the Israeli letter as an official document of the General Assembly and the Security Council.