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Israel, Egypt, Reply to Thant Warning on Situation Along Canal

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Israel charged this weekend, in a letter to Secretary-General U Thant, that the cease-fire along the Canal had been broken by repeated attacks from the Egyptian side. Ambassador Yosef Tekoah submitted the letter in response to a warning by Mr. Thant last week that “open warfare” was underway along the Canal. In his warning, in a report to the Security Council, Mr. Thant said that the 90-95 UN observers on the Canal might have to be pulled out because their safety was threatened in the exchanges.

A letter from Egypt said the responsibility for the problem “lies solely on Israel” and that it was Egypt’s policy to cooperate to insure the observers’ safety. The Israel letter reiterated that. Israel “must take appropriate self-defense measures” and that Israeli forces had strict orders to avoid harm to the observers.

The Israeli envoy observed that deliberate Egyptian fire had prevented completion of shelters for UN personnel on the Israeli side. He said that in the few instances when UN posts had been hit by Israeli shell fragments, it was an accidental result of return fire at Egyptian positions.

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