JERUSALEM (Mar. 26)
Israel began evacuating today members of its military missions and their families from Uganda after President Idi Amin Indicated at a press conference yesterday that he wanted them out and implied that Israeli personnel constituted a fifth column in his country. Israel is not, however withdrawing its diplomats and civilian advisors from the East African country unless requested to do so, it was learned here.
The government is said to be anxious to avoid a complete break with Uganda but recognizes that technical assistance programs are based on mutual agreement and cannot continue if one party wishes them terminated. Meanwhile, Ugandan students in Israel have received no instructions to return home and are continuing their studies here.
Israeli military personnel in Uganda numbered about 70 plus wives and children. The families were the first to leave. They were flown today to Nairobi, Kenya, and will proceed from there to Israel, The evacuation is expected to be completed within 24 hours. It was learned that the government decided to withdraw the entire Israeli military mission at once although Amin did not openly demand it and was expected to ask for a gradual withdrawal.
AMIN HALTS CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
Amin cancelled all arms orders placed with Israel and ordered an immediate halt to several Israeli construction projects in Uganda. He denied, however, that his government was turning to the Arab camp in return for financial assistance. Amin claimed that Uganda’s independence cannot be bought.
The evacuation was ordered following Amin’s remark yesterday that all Israeli personnel, male and female, civilian and military was presumed to have some military training and retaining them would mean having a secret army in Uganda.
There are several hundred Israeli civilians in Uganda employed by private companies. There are also four consultants on economics, computers, and agriculture and a university lecturer. All were employed through the Foreign Ministry’s international cooperation division.