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Concern That Syria May Try to Launch Offensive and Egyptians May Come to Their Aid

April 3, 1974
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Re-enforced Israeli units on the northern front were put on high alert today amid indications of an imminent Syrian ground, air and missile offensive to regain territory lost to Israel In the Yom Kippur War. Concern was expressed in some quarters that If the Syrians mount ah offensive In the north, the Egyptians would open fire on the southern front. ‘

Syrian artillery and tanks shelled Israeli position in the southern section of the Yom Kippur War enclave and in the southern Golan Heights this morning. Israeli forces returned the fire which continued through midday.’ No Israeli casualties were reported. Today’s shooting began the fourth week of fighting on the Syrian. . front.

But attention was focussed today on the massing of Syrian infantry, armor and artillery all along the cease-fire line, movements easily visible from Israeli observation posts. The concentration of forces coupled with intensified Syrian shelling of Golan Heights settlements and Syrian attempts to infiltrate Israeli lines were signs that the Syrians may be planning a large-scale local offensive with territorial objectives.


An Israeli military spokesman said today that Israeli forces were taking measures to meet any contingency including combined artillery and aerial attacks and the employment of “Frog” medium-range missiles capable of hitting population centers Inside Israeli territory. Convoys of Israeli re-enforcements were seen moving along the main Golan Heights roads today. The regional defense system was placed on alert and settlers were warned to prepare for an attack. ,

“The possibility of some kind of Egyptian action in coordination with a Syrian offensive was not discounted In military circles here. It was disclosed today that the Egyptians have emplaced long-range artillery on the west bank of the Sues Canal capable of reaching the Israeli zone east of the canal. This represents a violation of the disengagement agreement which called for a thinning out of forces on both sides of the waterway. The Egyptians are also known to have concentrated 120 mm. heavy mortars on the west bank, weapons not mentioned in the disengagement accord.


The Syrian kidnapping of two United Nations observers behind Israeli lines yesterday was the first acknowledgement that Syrian units had succeeded in penetrating Israeli defenses, though only briefly and for a short distance. The two UN officer–Capt. J.A, Mortell of Ireland and Capt. J.J. Holly of the United States–were released today but are in the Italian Hospital in Damascus being treated for cuts suffered when the Syrians forced them to walk bare-footed over sharp-edged basalt rocks. (See separate story for UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim’s protest.)

The two men were reported missing from their observation post near Tel Marii in the southern section of the Yom Kippur War enclave yesterday after they failed to respond to routine radio calls. It was learned later that they had been surprised by the Syrian Infiltrators while sleeping In a wagon near their post about 100 yards inside Israeli lines. The Syrians did not permit them to dress. Their uniforms and shoes were found this morning in their post. Damascus claimed that the two UN officers were not in uniform and were believed by their captors to be Israeli soldiers.

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