State Department Reaffirms That Israel Did Not Violate U.S. Arms Accord During Rescue Operation

The State Department emphatically reaffirmed yesterday that Israel had not violated any agreement on the use of American-supplied arms in its July 3 rescue operation at Entebbe Airport in Uganda and categorically rejected a suggestion that Israel had employed excessive force in carrying out the rescue. Department spokesman Robert Funseth made those points in reply to questions from reporters.

One newsman asked whether Israel was justified in using “excessive force” that resulted in the deaths of Ugandans and the “summary execution of terrorists.” Funseth responded that Israel was justified in the operation and when the reporter asked. “Is it the Department’s view that excessive force was not used?” he replied firmly, “That is correct.”

Another reporter requested a legal explanation of the U.S. determination that no violation of Israel’s agreement with the U.S. under the Foreign Military Sales Act was involved in the use by Israel of three C-130 military transports in the Uganda operation. Funseth replied by noting that the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, William W. Scranton, had discussed this matter in his address to the Security Council Tuesday.

ENTEBBE MISSION LEGALLY JUSTIFIED

Funseth said: “Of course, Paragraph 2 of the Mutual Assistance Defense Agreement between the U.S. and Israel authorized the use by Israel of U.S.-supplied defense articles for a number of purposes, including self-defense. As Governor Scranton stated in the Security Council, the Entebbe rescue was in our judgement legally justified as a use of limited force by Israel for the protection of its nationals which is a well established right that flows from the right of self-defense.”

Funseth added, “Therefore, we believe that the use of the U.S.-supplied equipment for that operation was consistent with the authorized use for self-defense within the meaning of the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement.”

NEXT STORY