Israel Categorically Rejects Role in Downing of United Nations Plane

Israel today “categorically rejected” Syrian attempts to involve it in the crash of a United Nations plane over Syrian territory last Friday in which nine Canadian members of the UN Emergency Force were killed. In a letter to Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, Israel’s UN Ambassador Yosef Tekoah characterized as “a sheer fabrication” Syria’s contention that Israeli Air Force jets had penetrated Syrian air space at the time the UN plane went down.

According to the Syrian version, the UN plane was hit by Syrian missiles fired at invading Israeli aircraft. Tekoah called the Syrian claim “a transparent and futile attempt to involve Israel in this tragic disaster for which Syria alone is responsible.”

The allegation that Israeli planes had penetrated Syrian air space at the time the United Nations plane was downed “is a sheer fabrication which is categorically rejected,” Tekoah stated in his letter to Waldheim. “The Israel Defense Forces spokesman has already announced that there was no Israeli aerial activity in the area when the United Nations aircraft was shot down by the Syrian armed forces,” Tekoah said.

DISCREPANCY NOTED BY OBSERVERS

The Israeli denial appeared to be supported by a discrepancy noted by observers here today between the Syrian report of the incident and the report by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). According to the Syrian account, Israeli planes raiding Lebanon appeared over Syrian territory at 1 p.m. local time Friday, the time the UN plane was shot down.

The UNTSO report, however, placed the Israeli sortie over Lebanon at 3 p.m. local time, two hours later. A UN spokesman could not explain the discrepancy. He said an investigation was underway by the UN as well as by Canadian authorities. Tekoah requested that his letter be circulated as an official document of the General Assembly and the Security Council.

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