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Bennike Blames Israel Army Forces for Kibya Incident

October 28, 1953
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Gen. Vagn Bennike, U.N. truce supervision chief in Palestine, charged the Israel Army today with responsibility for the Kibya raid. He cited to the Security Council reports of U.N. investigators to support this charge and estimated that 250 to 300 “well-trained Israeli soldiers carried out this operation. “

The UN truce official described the Kibya incident against a background of troubled border conditions and repeated disturbances of the peace. He warned that “a threat to the security of the area is possible, ” and stressed that Kibya and other incidents could not be considered as isolated incidents.

Gen. Bennike told the Security Council that “the hand grenade thrown on the night of the 12th-13th October into a house in the Israeli village of Yahud which caused the death of two small children and their mother, may have provoked the attack on Kibya 48 hours later, that resulted in the death of 53 Arab inhabitants and the destruction of more than 40 dwellings. “

He said that “the latest news received from the United Nations observers indicates the persistence of tension, particularly in Jerusalem. ” That situation, he said, is “dangerous and should be watched closely. “


U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold addressed the Council and offered a stern warning to the “parties concerned” in the Arab-Israel dispute to refrain from any actions “which would contribute to a widening of tension in the area and, especially, to avoid any action which could jeopardize the Security Council’s present endeavors.” He called on both sides to refrain from any action contrary to the armistice agreements and which could “prejudice the attainment of permanent peace in Palestine.”

Gen, Bennike, summing up the situation on the Israel-Jordan demarcation line, said the present tension was “due, to a large extent, to the problem of infiltration. This problem,” he said, “is particularly difficult because the demarcation line is 620 kilometers long and because it divides the former mandated territory of Palestine haphazardly, separating many Arab villages from their lands. “

Gen. Bennike said that to solve the problem of infiltration the Israelis and the Arabs must agree to high level talks between senior military commanders or to resort to force. “This second method reflects impatience with the slow results of peaceful means and a preference, instinctive or deliberate, for the old law of talion; eye for eye and tooth for tooth,” he said. “In such a frame of mind, respect for the provisions of the armistice agreement forbidding the crossing of the demarcation line appears absurd, when such line is being crossed by thieves in the night. “

Discussing the Israel-Syrian border situation, he said difficulties exist primarily in connection with the demilitarized zone and the execution of a new canal project. On the Israel-Egyptian border, Gen. Bennike said, tension is due in part to the existence of the infiltration problem in the Gaza strip. There is very little tension between Israel and Lebanon, he reported.

“There is, in Israel, an impatience with the general armistice agreements which is due to the fact that they have not yet been replaced by final settlements, ” the UN trace chief said.

The Council adjourned discussion of Gen. Bennike’s report and of the complaint on Kibya until Thursday afternoon.

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