Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Israel Cabinet Discusses Action Against Syria; Considers Situation Grave

January 16, 1967
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol today informed the Cabinet that the Israel Army has taken measures to defend the country against Syrian attacks and against acts of sabotage by Arab infiltrators.

He reported this development at a Cabinet meeting following a conference held by him earlier this morning with Israel’s Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin with whom he discussed security problems. A separate conference was also held by him this morning with Foreign Minister Abba Eban on possible international developments.

At the Cabinet meeting, Mr. Eshkol outlined the border situation which became extremely grave following renewed attacks today by Syrian positions on Israeli boats on Lake Tiberias, which lies within Israel territory, and the placing of a mine yesterday by saboteu is which exploded during a soccer game near Dishon, in Northern Israel, killing one Israeli spectator and wounding two players. Today’s exchange of fire between Israel and Syria across Lake Tiberias lasted ten minutes. No casualties were reported.

Foreign Minister Eban reported to the Cabinet today that a series of steps will be taken to inform international bodies and world opinion on the border situation and on Israel’s reaction. It is expected that Premier Eshkol will call late tonight on the United Nations and the world powers to take speedy and effective action to force Syria to halt its terrorise infiltrations into Israel and the escalation of tension along the border. He will also stress that Israel cannot tolerate a continuation of the present situation and will have to take appropriate action to halt it.


Police had a difficult time today containing angered crowds who came to Dishon to participate in the funeral of Joseph Cohen, a member of the settlement who was killed yesterday in the soccer field by the mine planted by Arab infiltrators. Cohen, who was on leave from Israel Paratroop Corps, was a spectator at the game when the mine exploded.

An army spokesman said that the nature of the mine, and the discovery of footsteps leading to the nearby Lebanese border indicated that the mine was planted by members of the Fedayeen terrorist group. A second mine was discovered nearby and dismantled by ordinance experts. A water pump near Dishon was damaged by an explosive charge the previous night, apparently placed by the same terrorist group. Leaflets were found on the soon, identifying the saboteurs.

Observers here said it appeared that the terrorists who placed the two mines and the explosives were under Syrian control, using Lebanon as an infiltration route. The material; used are standard Syrian army equipment. The observers said that the blasts were the first in recent weeks aimed at civilians and the incidents were regarded as another escalation in Israel-Syrian border tension.

The main question posed by observers here is: What can Israel do? Two ways are open — either to do nothing at all, in which case the infiltrations and murders are expected to continue and even increase; or to strike at the bases used by the terrorists for their murder attacks. Many observers here feel that the Syrian regime, already politically shaky. would not endanger its existence by suffering a military defeat at Israel’s hands and would thus halt terrorist attacks.

Recommended from JTA