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Eban Says Israel’s Casualties Heavy

October 9, 1973
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Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban indicated today that Israel has suffered heavy casualties in the new Middle East war but declared that it is now “repelling the Arab aggression” and its goal is to drive them behind the cease-fire lines of 1967.

Addressing the UN General Assembly this morning, Eban stressed that Israel knew days in advance of Egyptian-Syrian preparations to attack and tried to deter them through diplomatic channels. He said his government’s renunciation of preventive military action “cost us dearly.” He said Israel has suffered “tragic losses in blood” since the fighting began on Yom Kippur but that Egypt and Syria had suffered much greater losses.

According to Eban, Egypt began the battle with 3000 tanks, 2000 guns, 1000 aircraft and 600,000 men against the Israeli garrison holding the Suez Canal east bank. Syria went to war with 1000 tanks and a comparable number of aircraft, Eban said. He said the Arabs invented an Israeli sea attack as a pretext for their “premeditated and unprovoked” attack. He said the Arab action had shattered the cease-fire of Aug. 7. 1970 and that Israel’s aim now was to restore the cease-fire lines.

Eban contended that there has been too much indulgence in the world of Arab hostility toward Israel. He said the events of the past two days demonstrated how right Israel was to retain the cease-fire lines. The nightmare in Israel is what would have happened if it had withdrawn to the pre-June 1967 borders and this suicidal Arab attack came, the Foreign Minister said.


Israel lodged formal charges here last night accusing Egypt and Syria of sole responsibility for starting the new Middle East war and declared: “It will spare no effort, in exercise of its right to self-defense, until the aggressors have been thrown back and the cease-fire structure agreed to by the parties in 1967 and 1970 restored.”

That statement was contained in a letter submitted by Eban to Secretary General Kurt Waldheim. Eban asked that it be circulated as an official document of the General Assembly and the Security Council. “The fact of this aggression has been fully confirmed by United Nations military observers in the two sectors concerned.” Eban’s letter stated.

Eban’s letter stated that “When the government of Israel became aware some hours previously that such an attack was imminent it so informed a number of friendly governments through their diplomatic representatives in Israel and by other means. It was made clear that Israel would not herself initiate military action and that the governments of Egypt and Syria could be assured accordingly. The government of Israel was advised that this message was indeed conveyed to Egypt and Syria.”

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