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Israel Adopting Tough Stand on Syrian Disengagement Agreement

Israel has taken a tough stand on violations of disengagement agreement clauses, especially by Syria. In one case Israel flatly refused to remove a minefield from the buffer zone because the Syrians introduced heavy mortar batteries into a zone where the agreements call for a thinning of armaments, it was learned today. Artillery is specifically prohibited in the zone. Syria claims mortars are not artillery but Israel maintains otherwise and is adamant on the mine removal.

Other alleged violations by the Syrians which have been reported to the United Nations include the encampment of a Syrian army unit in the Mt. Hermon buffer zone opposite the Druze village of Majdal Shams and the intrusion of Syrian jets into Israeli air space. The planes penetrated to a depth of several hundred meters, apparently on reconnaissance flights to photograph Israeli lines on the Golan Heights.

More ominous from the Israeli point of view than these relatively minor truce violations is Syria’s failure to date to re-establish the civilian population in Kuneitra and surrounding villages which Israel relinquished under the disengagement accords. Instead of the expected influx of returning civilians, Kuneitra remains essentially an abandoned town. There are no more than 30 civilians in the town but a 100-man police force which Israel regards as a military unit in police uniforms. No civilians have returned to the villages.

SABOTAGE ATTEMPTS FOILED

The disengagement agreement has been observed more strictly on the Egyptian front. Flights by Russian-built helicopters into Israeli air space in Sinai were discontinued after Israel complained. The Egyptian army is sending home its reserve units after a series of military exercises, some of them carried out on the east bank of the Suez Canal.

Israeli security forces, meanwhile, reported foiling several possible sabotage attempts by Arab terrorists. The most recent incident was the sinking of a terrorist-manned dinghy in Israeli territorial waters by a Navy patrol boat. Other anti-terrorist measures include the tightening of searches on the Jordan River bridges to abort the smuggling of arms and explosives into Israeli territory and the erection of security fences along the Lebanese border.

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