Egypt, Israel Agree to Exchange of Pows, Transfer of Checkpoints

The exchange of prisoners of war–wounded and non-wounded–will start simultaneously from Israel and Egypt tomorrow at 8 a.m. local time (1 a.m. EST). This agreement was reached in a meeting today at kilometer 101 on the Cairo-Suez road between Maj. Gen. Aharon Yariv, assistant Israeli chief of staff, and Deputy Egyptian Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mouhamed Gemassi. The agreement also stipulated that the transfer of the checkpoints on the Suez-Cairo road take place simultaneously from Israeli to United Nations Emergency Force personnel. Arrangements for supply to the town of Suez and the Third Egyptian Army were also concluded at the meeting. The Egyptians have handed over a list of 238 Israeli POWs the Egyptians claim to be in their hands. The number includes those about whom notification was already received through the Red Cross. This number is far below what Israel has expected.

“I hope we have started on a good road today,” said Yariv during his talks with the Egyptians under the chairmanship of General Ensio Siilasvuo after an agreement on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth sections of the six-point cease-fire accord had been reached. These points relate to the transfer of the checkpoints, the transfer of non-military supplies to the encircled Egyptian Third Army and to the town of Suez and to the release of POWs. Coming out of the tent on kilometer 101, Siilasvuo, now the commander of the UNEF, said that “an agreement has been reached on the paragraphs C, D, E and F of the cease-fire accord. Implementation of these will commence tomorrow (Thursday).” He added that he regards this a very great achievement made possible through the efforts of both the Israeli and Egyptian delegations.

Following the meeting, Yariv permitted himself some relaxation. He posed for pictures with Israeli soldiers nearby. He embraced them, shook their hands and even offered a toast from a bottle of wine that was brought there by Capt. Naftali Shomrat, the Israeli officer in charge of the kilometer 101 checkpoint. Both sides agreed that tomorrow morning, prior to the start of the POW exchange, the checkpoints now manned by Israelis on the beginning and end of the Suez-Cairo road will be handed over to the UNEF soldiers. If this materializes–then planes from Egypt and Tel Aviv will leave simultaneously to the other country carrying the POWs.

With the receipt of the list of the 238 names of the POWs, the Israeli army has started notifying the next of kin. This will end by tomorrow evening. The Israeli army will also notify families after each group of POWs is returned to Israel. Returning soldiers will be brought to their homes by the army. Israel had presented the Red Cross with a list of some 450 names, but the Egyptians claim that the list which was presented today is the complete one. If, as Israel assumed, only about 100 or so are apparently held by the Syrians then the list of missing soldiers is still significant.

Meanwhile, the Egyptians twice opened fire today at Israeli tractors on fortification work along the front line. In the early morning hours fire was directed at two Israeli tractors near the Ismailia sector and Israeli fire was returned. Later in the day, fire was again opened at an Israeli tractor south of Ismailia and again fire was returned. In both cases it was small arms fire. On the Syrian front there were three incidents of fire exchanges. All were concentrated in the Mazraat Beth Jan area in the northernmost sector of the Syrian front. Small arms fire and shells were employed in the exchanges. In another development, the Security Council was told today that Egyptian tanks opened fire Sunday on a patrol of UN military observers west of the Bitter Lake. Israel lodged a complaint about the incident to the UN Truce Observers Organization, whose observers confirmed the incident. But the observers did not confirm from their own observations six other Israeli complaints of firing by the Egyptians.

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