WASHINGTON (Nov. 8)
The Soviet Government was accused today by Israel with blocking the exchange of prisoners of war between Israel and Egypt and Syria. A “pink paper” released here by the Israel Embassy, setting forth the details of the POW issue, said: “Israel notes with utmost concern that commitments made and publicly stated by the major powers on an immediate exchange of POWs had not been carried out. This failure is due to the Soviet Union’s apparent repudiation of its agreement with the United States on this issue. It should be noted that the Soviet Union was the sole country among the 15 members of the Security Council to block a statement on behalf of the Security Council President and the UN Secretary General calling for the cooperation of all parties with the International Red Cross regarding the POWs.”
The “pink paper” also said that International Red Cross representatives in Israel “regularly visit the Arab prisoners of war–including those in camps and the wounded and sick in hospitals” but that “so far Red Cross representatives in Egypt and Syria have not been permitted by the authorities to visit any Israeli prisoners with the sole exception of six men hospitalized in Egypt.” Israel, the “pink paper” also said, holds 8239 prisoners from Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Morocco. Egypt holds about 350 Israeli prisoners and Syria approximately 130.
The paper said that “Egypt’s and Syria’s non-compliance with the Geneva Convention provisions” and “their inhuman treatment of Israeli prisoners is an indication of their refusal to set the minimum conditions necessary for a humane and honorable understanding between the parties.” Syrian mistreatment of Israeli POWs, the paper said, “has been the most barbaric.” The paper reported POWs were “brutally murdered” by Syrians. Among the victims were twelve Israeli soldiers who were blindfolded, their hands and feet bound and then killed. “Out of consideration for the families of the POWs,” the paper said, the Israeli government has not released “additional details” of atrocities or publicized other similar tortures.”