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Tekoah Says Egypt Threatens P.o.w.s

May 3, 1972
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Israel accused Egypt today of utilizing the accidental death of an Egyptian prisoner of war during a riot in an Israeli POW camp April 18 as the pretext for “an undisguised threat against the safety of Israeli prisoners of war in Egypt.” The charge was contained in a letter to UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim from Ambassador Yosef Tekoah, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the UN.

Tekoah referred to an Egyptian letter to the Secretary General on the incident and to a statement by an Egyptian Army spokesman on April 19, reported by Cairo’s Middle East News Agency, that threatened Israeli POWs in Egypt. The Israeli envoy expressed regret at the death of the Egyptian POW who was fatally wounded when a bullet, fired as a warning shot by an Israeli MP, ricocheted off a wall and struck the POW in the head. Tekoah noted that the warning shots were fired “as a last resort” after Egyptian POWs attacked the MPs with steel bars, stones and bottles, set fire to their barracks and attempted to break out.

Tekoah noted that the International Red Cross was notified immediately after the incident. The IRC’s report, appended to the Israeli envoy’s letter, confirmed that Israel fully observed the Geneva Convention on treatment of POWs and that its treatment of the POWs was in fact even more liberal than that required by the Geneva Convention.

On the other hand, Tekoah noted, the Egyptian Army spokesman’s “threat against defenseless and guiltless (Israeli) prisoners constitutes a grave violation of the Geneva Convention.” Tekoah also pointed out that on numerous occasions Israel has proposed a POW exchange with Egypt which the latter country “has stubbornly rejected.”

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