JERUSALEM (Sep. 10)
Israel today accused Egypt, Syria and Iraq–and by implication, the Soviet Union–of being associates and accomplices in an unprecedented threat to civil aviation. The charge was contained in a letter delivered by the Israeli Ambassador, Amiel Najar, to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) assembly meeting in Rome. It urged the ICAO to deal with last week’s aborted attempt by Arab terrorists to shoot down an El Al airliner with Soviet-made ground-to-air missiles supplied them by Arab states.
“The supply to Arab terrorists with missiles of military characteristics intended for use against low flying enemy aircraft in time of war by Arab states who know full well to what use their missiles would be put in these hands, constitutes an unqualified act of unlawful interference against civil aviation.” the letter said. It noted that in the Middle East, this type of missile is in the service only of the regular armies of Syria. Iraq and Egypt and is delivered to those states by the Soviet Union which is the only supplier of such missiles
Observing that the terrorist attempt in Rome is “of undoubted relevance to the work of the 20th session of the Assembly of the ICAO” which is seeking means to curb air piracy, the Israeli letter noted that only the action of Italian security services who apprehended five Arab terrorists near Rome last Wednesday averted a tragedy of dreadful proportions.
SIGNIFICANT ESCALATION OF TERRORISM
“The missiles of the SA-7 type complete with launching devices were in perfect working order when found and were intended to shoot down an El Al airliner on landing or take-off from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. The employment of these missiles against aircraft at an airport where planes land and take off every minute represents an unprecedented danger for civil aviation. These weapons, if they hit an aircraft in flight causing it to crash into a built-up area would inflict extensive damage,” the letter said.
Continuing; the letter stated: “It constitutes. moreover, a significant escalation in the means provided them (the terrorists) with even greater capacity of striking at air transport and causing the death of hundreds of innocent civilians. The Arab states who furnished these missiles to the Arab terrorists have made themselves associated with and accomplices of an unprecedented threat to civil aviation, thus flagrantly violating international conventions.” At Israel’s request the letter was distributed to delegates attending the ICAO conference.