JERUSALEM (Sep. 9)
Israeli Foreign Ministry circles expressed sharp disappointment today that the United Nations Security Council had failed to condemn Egypt for the cease-fire violation Sunday which resulted in the death of 10 Israeli soldiers and the wounding of 17, three of them critically. Reports read to the emergency session of the Security Council last night by Secretary General U Thant from Lieut.-Gen. Odd Bull, head of the cease-fire observers, assessed blame for starting the artillery exchange – the most severe since last October – on Egyptian gunners. Gen. Bull’s reports also blamed Egypt for delays in accepting a cease-fire.
Israelis had expected more from the emergency session which was convened last night at Israel’s urgent request to deal with what Ambassador Yosef Tekoah described as a “premeditated, large-scale and unprovoked assault in flagrant violation of the cease-fire.” They were consequently disappointed that the suggestion of Lord Caradon. the British representative, that the Council call on both sides to observe the cease-fire, was the sole action taken by the Council. Some Israelis charged that the failure to condemn Egypt in this case demonstrated once again the weakness of the Council in all matters concerning the Middle East where it has to operate in the shadow of the Soviet veto.
The Council went into session around nine o’clock Sunday night. It heard Ambassador Tekoah charge Egypt with violation of the cease-fire and an attempt by the Egyptian representative, supported by the Soviet Union, to put the blame on Israel. It adjourned to seek agreement on action and resumed about one o’clock this morning when Ambassador George Ignatieff of Canada. Security Council president, read out a consensus statement deploring the loss of lives and enjoining both Egypt and Israel “strictly to observe the cease-fire called for by the Security Council’s resolutions.”
Israel had sought the emergency session Sunday because of the critical nature of the situation, although the Council was scheduled to meet today to resume consideration of Israel’s complaint against Egypt for the August 26 cease-fire violation in which two Israeli soldiers were killed and one kidnaped. Israel seeks the return of the kidnaped man. The session today was postponed until tomorrow morning.
RIDICULE EGYPTIAN ASSERTION ISRAELIS ACCEPTED EGYPTIAN ‘TERMS’ FOR CEASE-FIRE
In Tel Aviv, a military spokesman identified eight of ten Israeli soldiers killed in yesterday’s four-and-a-half hour artillery duel along the entire 103-mile length of the Suez Canal. Seventeen Israelis were reported wounded, three of them critically. Cairo radio claimed last night that five Egyptian soldiers and six civilians were killed and 42 persons, including 12 soldiers, were wounded.
An Army spokesman ridiculed an Egyptian claim that Israel had asked for a cease-fire and had agreed to Egypt’s condition that Israel would not re-enforce its troops in the Sinai area. There was no request by Israel and no agreement to any conditions, the spokesman said. He repeated an earlier statement that the Egyptians opened fire all along the front simultaneously- -from Kantara at the northern entrance of the canal to Port Tewfik at the southern entrance. He said that the Egyptians
disregarded the first call for a cease-fire made by United Nations observers shortly before 5:00 p.m. local time and continued their shelling along the entire front for another hour and a half. He said the Egyptians used artillery and 120 mm and 160 mm mortars, their main target being the Port Tewfik area.
Israeli circles said today that the Egyptians deliberately provoked the clash to coincide with the Security Council’s hearings on Israel’s complaint of Egyptian violations of the cease-fire. One political observer suggested that the Egyptian attack may have been launched by tacit agreement with Moscow to divert world attention from events in Czechoslovakia.
In Washington, State Department sources said, however, that the United States did not see global ramifications that would involve the Soviet Union in the latest Israeli-Egyptian Suez Canal clash. Officials said the motivation for the admittedly heavy Egyptian fire remained obscure although American diplomats tend to exonerate the Russians from any involvement with it. The United States position was defined as supporting the United Nations call for both sides to observe the cease-fire.