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Israel Lodges Complaint with Red Cross over Treatment of Prisoners by Egyptians

Israel lodged a complaint with the International Red Cross today charging “Egypt with violation of the Geneva convention governing the treatment of prisoners of war. The Israel Government charged that two downed fighter pilots, Maj. Nissim Ashkenazi and Capt. Giora Romm, were subjected to inhuman treatment and physical assault and were denied their normal rights as prisoners including visits by Red Cross representatives within a reasonable period of time.

The two pilots were repatriated a week ago in a three-cornered exchange in which Israel returned 72 Egyptian and 13 Syrian prisoners of war for them and for two Israeli civilians who were held captive by Syria after their TWA airliner was hijacked to Damascus last Aug. 29. Both flyers are in a military hospital undergoing treatment for severe injuries they suffered when they bailed out over Egypt.

Israel complained that Egyptian authorities refused to permit Red Cross representatives to visit either of them for 45-46 days after they were taken prisoner. It was further charged that Maj. Ashkenazi and Capt. Romm were kept separately in solitary confinement under inhuman conditions and were transferred to a Cairo hospital only one or two day before Red Cross representatives were finally allowed to visit them.

The Israelis rejected an Egyptian explanation that the pilots were held incommunicado because of their condition. They were suffering from fractures of hands and legs but were subjected to constant interrogation and were visited by an Egyptian photographer who look picture for propaganda purposes. Israel said.

While in solitary confinement, Maj. Ashkenazi was beaten and kicked by Egyptians and in one instance his fractured ankle was stepped on. The prisoners were denied permission to write or receive letters or parcels until they were finally visited by the Red Cross, and Capt. Romm’s request to see a rabbi was refused in violation of the Geneva code, Israel said.

Although admittedly severely injured .both men were confined to bare cells that had neither mattresses nor blankets. The Israelis said however that the medical treatment they received at the hands of Egyptian physicians was fair and correct. Israel demanded that the Red Cross ask Egypt to punish those responsible for the brutal treatment of the pilots and to give assurances that such behavior would not be permitted in the future.

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