Agreement Reached on a Three-phased Israeli Withdrawal from Canal

The time-table of a three-phase Israeli withdrawal from the west bank of the Suez Canal was disclosed today following several days of meetings between Israeli and Egyptian officers at this United Nations checkpoint. It was learned yesterday that the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) will initially occupy the zones evacuated by Israeli forces to maintain a continuous buffer between advancing Egyptians and withdrawing Israelis until the final stages of separation are reached east of the Suez Canal.

It was also disclosed today that the departing Israeli forces will leave intact the concrete launching sites for SAM anti-aircraft missiles in the occupied area west of the canal. This is in accordance with a promise made last weekend by the Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. David Elazar to his Egyptian counterpart, Gen. Mohammed Gemassy that Israel will not purposefully damage military installations and civilian facilities left undamaged in the war. A majority of the missile sites were undamaged and will be banded back to the Egyptians.

Israel will also provide the Egyptians–through UNEF–with maps showing the mine fields in the Israel held area. It was learned that Israeli army engineers planted some 750,000 mines but the job of removing them will be left to the Egyptians. The first phase of the Israeli withdrawal is scheduled to start Friday and be completed by noon Sunday.

3RD ARMY TO MOVE EQUIPMENT WESTWARD

The initial pull-back will be from the southern sector of the Israeli salient west of the canal and will open the Suez-Cairo road to Egyptian traffic. It will enable the Egyptian Third Army Corps east of the canal to throw up bridges and start moving its heavy equipment westward of the waterway. The evacuation of 300 Egyptian sick and wounded began today. The Israeli command for the first time permitted Egyptian drivers to use the Suez-Cairo road for that purpose.

The second phase of the Israeli departure will end Feb. 3 when the Israelis will withdraw to a line north of Fayid. The airfield there will be handed over to UNEF and thence to the Egyptians. The final phase is expected to be concluded Feb. 12 when the last Israeli troops dross to the east side of the canal. The Egyptians will be given the canal bridges constructed by Israeli engineers.

PROGRESS ON RETRIEVAL OF ISRAELI DEAD

Talks are also progressing on the retrieval of the bodies of Israeli soldiers killed in Egyptian-held territory. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren has been delegated by the families of missing soldiers to follow up his earlier efforts to locate the dead and return them to Israel for burial. It was learned today that Rabbi Goren had discussed the problem with the intelligence officer of the Egyptian Third Army.

Rabbi Goren was reported to have been given assurances that Israeli soldiers were interred in temporary graves with documents and personal belongings that will facilitate their identification. The delay in retrieving the bodies was attributed to the almost continuous shooting incidents on the Egyptian front prior to the signing of the disengagement agreement last Friday.

NEXT STORY