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Israel Prepared to Exchange Egyptian Pow’s for Israelis Held by Egypt

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said last night that Israel was prepared to exchange all Egyptian prisoners-of-war in its custody for all Israelis held captive by Egypt. But Dayan said he doubted that the Egyptians would agree despite the fact Egyptian POWs by far outnumber the Israelis.

Dayan spoke to newsmen at a military hospital where he greeted Eyal Achikar, a wounded Israeli pilot who was returned yesterday after spending nearly 17 months in an Egyptian prison hospital. Achikar, who was shot down over Egyptian territory on June 30, 1970, was exchanged for four Egyptian soldiers and six civilians. The exchange under the auspices of the International Red Cross, raised hopes here that Egypt would soon return four Israelis captured during the past two years.

Two of them are pilots–Lt. Dan Avidan shot down Dec. 14, 1969 and Menahem Eini, shot down July 18, 1970. Both were wounded. The other two, Mordechai Cohen and Mordechai Bavil, civilian employes of the Army Canteen Service, were captured by Egyptian commandos on Feb. 11, 1970. The Red Cross is expected to press for their release. Achikar told Dayan that he was well treated in the Egyptian hospital and received devoted care. He was in excellent spirits and doctors say he may recover fully from his wounds but will require extensive treatment. The young flyer received will wishes and a bouquet of flowers from Premier Golda Meir.

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