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Israel Will Not Carry out Scorched Earth Policy in Evacuated Areas

Israel has promised Egypt that it will not carry out a scorched earth policy in the area west of the Suez Canal that it will evacuate under the disengagement agreement signed here Friday. Chief of Staff, Gen. David Elazar told military correspondents last night that he had made that pledge to the Egyptian Chief of Staff, Gen. Mohammed Gemassy, as a gesture of Israel’s good faith and its interest in seeing the restoration of normal civilian life along the canal banks.

There was nothing in the agreement covering the condition in which Israel would leave the area it has occupied since the second week of the Oct. Yom Kippur War. But Gemassy had asked him to leave roads and other installations in good repair when they met to sign the accord at this UN checkpoint, Elazar said. He said that he had replied that the area suffered in the war but that Israeli forces would do no purposeful damage before withdrawing.

According to reliable sources, the Egyptians have been informed through U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger that all movable military equipment on the west bank of the canal has already been removed. Fixed military installations such as the airfield at Fayld and all civilian facilities will be left intact apart from the damage they suffered during the war.

The three-page disengagement agreement signed by Elazar and Gemassy and counter signed by UNEF Commander Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo will go into effect Jan. 28. Israeli and Egyptian military teams will spend this week, starting today, in arranging the details. The separation of forces will be carried out in stages and will take 40 days to complete. Elazar disclosed. He said that only the future will tell if the agreement becomes an historic milestone. If both sides observe it to the letter it will be a good agreement and may open the road for a better future for all nations in the region, Elazar said.

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