Syrian Troops Concentrate on Israel Border; Civilians Evacuated
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Syrian Troops Concentrate on Israel Border; Civilians Evacuated

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Major reinforcements of Syrian troops are being poured into the Syrian positions along the Jordan River opposite Israel, it was reported here today. The Syrian troop concentrations were seen as a reply to Israel charges that five Israel soldiers captured and held by the Syrians since early last December had not been treated in accordance with the terms of the Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners of war, and to the Israel demand for an investigation of the charges.

The reports said that civilians on the Syrian side of the demilitarized area had been evacuated. Syrian sentries were reported to be stopping even United Nations cars in the area and checking the personnel in them.

The Israel charges were filed this week-end with the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission, which was asked to undertake an immediate investigation into the condition of the prisoners and to hold an emergency meeting after the inquiry. It was noted that keeping these men in a prison was a violation of the convention, as was keeping them in solitary confinement. It is believed here that Pvt. Uri Ran, one of the five, who committed suicide in a Damascus prison last week, did so because he was kept in solitary confinement.

Radio Damascus, in an apparent attempt to counteract the effect of the Israel charges, yesterday broadcast recording of short interviews with the four Israel soldiers remaining alive in Syrian hands. During the interviews, carried on in Hebrew, each of the prisoners said that he was well and asked for such things as books and clothing.

Meanwhile, Pvt. Ilan was buried with full military honors at his home kibbutz, Gan Shmuel, near Hadera, in the presence of the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Army’s Chief Chaplain and numerous delegations from settlements. The dead soldier is survived by a brother and sister, as well as by his father and mother. His mother, Feign Ilanit, is a prominent member of the Mapan party and was a representative in the first Israel Parliament.

Brig. Moshe Dayan, the Chief of Staff, in eulogizing Pvt. Ilan, said that the army cannot assure the life of its soldiers, but with soldiers the life of the state and army was assured. Shortly after the body of the young soldier was returned to Israel a post mortem examination was performed at the Tel Hashomer hospital. The funeral procession left the hospital in a large convoy, preceded by Army dispatch riders.

Brig. Dayan has demanded of the United Nations chairman of the Israel-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission that the remaining four soldiers be informed of Ilan’s fate, and that all of them be released at the earliest possible date. Results of an examination of Ilan’s body in prison, as well as an examination by a Dr. Mochi of the World Health Organization, are to be made public shortly, according to reports from Syria.

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