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Widespread Concern over Egypt’s Violation of Disengagement Accord

Israel is taking an increasingly serious view of Egypt’s alleged violation of the disengagement agreement terms limiting the strength of its forces east of the Suez Canal. Additional Egyptian artillery pieces Introduced into the limited forces zone still have not been removed though a week has gone by since they were spotted by Israeli reconnaissance planes and complaints were lodged by Israel with Washington and the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF).

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan referred to the matter in a briefing on Israel’s security problems to a United Jewish Appeal delegation here today. He said he hoped the Egyptians would remove the guns but observed that the maintenance of the disengagement accord was apparently not going to be an easy task.

Dayan is reportedly seeking another meeting with UNEF Commander Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo before he goes to Washington Friday to discuss Israeli-Syrian disengagement with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, Siilasvuo is known to have raised the alleged violation with Egyptian military authorities. (See separate story on Dayan visit.)

The Egyptians are reportedly claiming that they have not violated the disengagement agreement by bringing up additional guns. The agreement limits Egyptian artillery east of the canal to six batteries. In most armies, a battery consists of six guns. The Egyptians claim that their artillery batteries consist of 12 guns and therefore they are entitled to 72 artillery pieces instead of 36 in the limited forces zone. Siilasvuo, however, is said to share the general view that a battery is no more than six guns.

(In Washington, the State Department repeated today what it had told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Monday–namely that it would not comment on the alleged Egyptian violation of the disengagement agreement in Sinai because “any difficulties that may arise in the Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreement are best handled through private consultations in whatever channels the parties find useful.”)

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