LETTER DATED 3 NOVEMBER 1951 FROM THE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE TRUCE
SUPERVISION ORGANISATION TO THE SECRETARY-GENERAL TRANSMITTING
A REPORT ON THE DECISIONS MADE DURING THE PERIOD 17 FEBRUARY
1951 TO 31 OCTOBER 1951 BY THE MIXED ARMISTICE COMMISSIONS
I have the honour to communicate to you for transmission to the President of the Security Council the attached report on the decisions made during the period 17 February 1951 to 31 October 1951 by the Mixed Armistice Commissions.
W. E. Riley
Lieut. General, USMC (Retd.)
Chief of Staff
MADE BY THE MIXED ARMISTICE COMMISSIONS
DURING THE PERIOD 17 FEBRUARY 1951 TO 31 OCTOBER 1951
(b) the question of the Azazme Bedouins ((i) Egyptian complaints of 5 and 11 September 1950 alleging the expulsion of some sub-tribes of the Azazme tribe from Israeli-controlled territory into Egypt; (ii) Israeli complaint alleging the expulsion during October and November 1950 of about 4,000 Bedouins of the Azazme tribe from Egyptian-controlled territory into Israel).
(b) “The Mixed Armistice Commission, recalling the resolution concerning the Palestine question taken at the 524th meeting of the Security Council on 17 November 1950;
“Having discussed and considered the two Egyptian complaints submitted to the Mixed Armistice Commission on 5 and 11 September 1950, related to the expulsion of some sub-tribes of the Azazme Bedouins by the Israel authorities across the international border to the Egyptian territory, and
“Having considered the Israel point of view,
“1. That a number of Bedouins estimated at between ‘6,000 to 7,000 appertaining to the following sub-tribes of the Azazme tribe have been expelled from the area under Israel control and from the Demilitarized Zone across the international border, into Egyptian territory: (a) Subheyeen, (b) Mohammadeen, (c) Isbaihat, (d) Sawakneh, (e) Imrea’at, (f) El Assayat;
“2. That these Arabs be repatriated to the Israeli-controlled area;
“3. That this decision will receive immediate-effect in conformity with the aforesaid resolution of the Security Council.”
5. At its meeting of 30 May 1951, the Egyptian-Israeli Mixed Armistice. Commission also considered the question, raised by Egypt, of the interpretation of article VII, paragraph 1, of the Egyptian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement. The Egyptian Government has contended that “the parting of the area covered by the Armistice Agreement into two zones, the Western zone and the Eastern zone, does not stand any more; that it appears clearly from article VII, paragraph 1, that the main reason of this separation was the non-conclusion, at the time, of a General Armistice Agreement between Israel and Transjordan and the uncertain situation which resulted; that the Armistice Agreement between Israel and Transjorden having been concluded since April 1949, the differentiation between Eastern and Western front should have disappeared and all the provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Armistice Agreement of 24 February 1949 should have received, at the time, their full application both and indistinctly in the Western and the Eastern front; and that a right interpretation of the text of article VII, paragraph 1, of the Egyptian-Israeli Armistice Agreement leads inevitably to such a conclusion that cannot suffer any changes by the insertion of a provision in the Transjorden-Israeli Armistice Agreement which remains for Egypt res inter alios acta.”
5. The Mixed Armistice Commission, by a majority vote (Israeli delegation and Chairman) disagreed with the Egyptian interpretation of article VII, paragraph 1, and held that there must of necessity be a dividing line to delineate the territory to be governed by the respective armistice agreements.
6. The Egyptian delegation has appealed to the Special Committee against the Mixed Armistice Commission’s interpretation of article VII, paragraph 1.
The appeal has been placed on the draft agenda of the Special Committee.
7. Most of the complaints received by the Mixed Armistice Commission have referred to incidents along the demarcation line between Israeli-controlled territory in the Gaza strip under Egyptian control. One hundred and sixty-six complaints, of which 72 per cent came from the Israeli delegation, have been received during the last eight and a half months.
8. During March and April 1951, the Israeli complaints generally concerned the crossing of the armistice demarcation line by Arabs from the Gaza strip, in which great numbers of Palestine Arabs have taken refuge. It was alleged that Arab groups had crossed the line to cut and steal wheat from Israeli-controlled territory. The Egyptians, on the other hand, complained that the Israelis had killed six Arabs and wounded five. The United Nations Chairman appealed to the Israeli delegation to intervene with the Israeli army authorities with a view to preventing the opening of fire on Arab civilians who crossed the armistice demarcation line. He also requested the Egyptian delegation to see that such illegal crossings of the demarcation line were stopped immediately. For a time, [missed]ectivea measures were taken to prevent the crossing of the demarcation line, [missed word]which the Egyptian authorities instituted regular mounted police patrol.
[missed words] the last four months, the situation has taken a more serious turn. There has been an increase in the number of complaints alleging armed robbery and attacks on Israeli settlements and Israel; patrols by Arab bands from the Gaza strip. There has also been complaints alleging the mining of roads in Israeli-controlled territory. The Egyptians, on the other hand, have complained of retaliatory raids by Israelis and of boat and plane violations of waters and territory under Egyptian control.
10. Incidents in the Gaza strip area, in so far as they could not be disposed of by a sub-committee of the Mixed Armistice Commission, have been considered by the Mixed Armistice Commission itself. At a meeting held on 23 September 1951, it examined an Egyptian complaint alleging that on 19 September Israelis had shelled the Beit Hanum area in the Gaza strip and that they had blown up a number of houses, killing and injuring some Arabs. The Commission adopted the following resolution by unanimous vote:
“That the action carried out by Israelis on 19 September 1951 is a violation of article II, paragraph 2, of the Egyptian-Israeli Armistice Agreement.
“The Mixed Armistice Commission calls upon the Israeli delegation to request the Israeli authorities to take the necessary steps to put an end to these aggressive actions which do not help the maintenance of peace.”
“The Mixed Armistice Commission decides that during the night of 5-6 September 1951, Arabs from the Gaza strip crossed the demarcation line and laid two mines inside Israeli territory with the result that one tractor and one army car were blown up and one officer and two civilians were wounded.
“The Mixed Armistice Commission calls upon the Egyptian delegation to call upon the Egyptian authorities to put an end to such aggressive actions,”
13. At a meeting held on 3 October, the Mixed Armistice Commission considered further complaints concerning the crossing of the armistice demarcation line and other actions in the Gaza strip area. With regard to an Israeli complaint according to which five or six Arabs from the Gaza strip had, during the night of 7-8 March 1951, attacked three times the guards of a road-building company near Magen settlement, the Commission took the following decision by a majority vote (the Egyptian delegation voting against):
“The Mixed Armistice Commission calls upon the Egyptian delegation to request the Egyptian authorities to take all possible steps to prevent the occurrence of such acts.”
15. The Egyptian delegation has appealed to the Special Committee against the above three decisions. It has also appealed against the following decision taken by a majority vote at the same meeting of the Mixed Armistice Commission:
“The Mixed Armistice Commission decides that this action carried out by the Egyptians constitutes a flagrant violation of article I, paragraph 2, and article II, paragraph 2, of the General Armistice Agreement.
“The Mixed Armistice Commission strongly condemns this violation of the General Armistice Agreement and calls upon the Egyptian delegation to ask the Egyptian authorities to prevent any such violations in the future.”
17. With regard to another Egyptian complaint alleging that on 28 June three Israeli army vehicles had crossed the Egyptian international border and advanced to a point five kilometres west of the border, the Commission decided by a majority vote, the Israeli delegation voting against, that the Israeli action was a violation of article I, paragraph 2, and article II, paragraph 2 of the General Armistice Agreement.
18. Complaints have been received by the Mixed Armistice Commission in connection with the following incidents which occurred on 16 and 19 October respectively:
(b) A retaliatory raid during the night of 19 October resulted in the destruction of the Gaza ice factory, the death of one Arab boy and the injury of eleven other persons.
MIXED ARMISTICE COMMISSION
20. The arrangements made early this year at the meeting of the Deputy Chiefs of Staff of the two States, with a view to preventing further incidents, have to a large extent been implemented with satisfactory results. Minor incidents have been dealt with on the spot with the minimum of delay. The task of marking the armistice demarcation lines on the ground, which was suspended a year ago, has been resumed and completed in the more critical areas. The crossing of the demarcation lines by civilians has, however, continued. The Hashemite Jordan Kingdom authorities have made arrangements far the trial, in their own courts, of their citizens accused of infiltrating into Israeli-controlled territory. They have also, by the press and wireless, warned their citizens of the dangers of crossing the demarcation lines. The United Nations Observers, for their part, have insisted that many incidents could be prevented if the Arabs living close to the demarcation lines had a clear knowledge of the location of the lines, which implied that they should be marked clearly on the ground.
21. The Hashemite Jordan Kingdom-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission met in emergency session on 8 and 15 March 1951, to consider Hashemite Jordan Kingdom complaints regarding the shelling of the village of Idna in the Hebron area on 7 March 1951. The Commission adopted the following resolution:
“2. The Hashemite Jordan Kingdom-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission considers that the violation indicated in paragraph 1 above was the result of lesser contraventions of the General Armistice Agreement by residents of the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom.
“3. The Hashemite Jordan Kingdom-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission therefore resolves:
(a) that the demarcation line in this area be clearly marked on the ground from where the demarcation line meets the Beit Jibrin road to opposite Beit Awwa village;
(b) that direct telephone communications be set up between Beit Jibrin and Tarqumia villages to facilitate quick contact in case of need between the local commanders, thus enabling them to act promptly.”
(b) Meetings to take place at specified points on the demarcation line between Israel and Jordan officers to settle minor incidents summarily.
(c) Liaison officers of one Party to inform their opposite numbers on incidents within three hours of their occurrence.
(d) The cost of damage caused by infiltrating flocks and the cost of upkeep of flocks while in custody to be paid by the owner of the flocks. Livestock crossing the demarcation line to be returned promptly, minus two per cent of the flock.
(e) Shepherds and other civilians who crossed the demarcation line unintentionally to be returned immediately.
23. The Hashemite Jordan Kingdom-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission met on 26 April 1951 to consider a Hashemite Jordan Kingdom complaint alleging that on 11 April 1951 Israelis had again shelled the village of Idna with mortars. The United Nations Chairman summed up the evidence presented in the following terms:
“(b) An armed conflict ensued between the Israel patrol and elements of the Arab Legion, national guards and civilians.
“(c) The Israel patrol withdrew with a subsequent crossing of the demarcation line by the Jordan forces.
“(d) At the time of the incident the demarcation line in the vicinity of Idna was not marked; this being a contributing factor to the incident.”
(b) Surprise checks for demarcation line violations will be made by both delegations on their respective sides of the demarcation line, accompanied when possible by a United Nations Observer.
25. On 3 July 1951, the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission decided that the buildings occupied by either Israelis or Arabs in the no-man’s-land area separating the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom-controlled and Israel-controlled parts of Jerusalem would continue to be occupied without prejudice to a future settlement. It was further agreed that no more buildings would be occupied by citizens of either State. Complaints referring to illegal occupation of buildings in no-man’s-land have frequently figured on the agenda of the Mixed Armistice Commission meetings. It is expected that this agreement will result in a marked decrease of incidents and complaints regarding the no-man’s-land area.
26. During the period under review, the process of eliminating from the Commission’s agenda long-standing complaints, which with the passage of time had lost their original purpose, was also continued satisfactorily.
27. Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom-Israel General Armistice Agreement established a Special Committee composed of two representatives of each Party for the purpose of formulating agreed plans and arrangements designed to enlarge the scope of this Agreement and to effect improvements in its application. Paragraph 2 of this article states:
29. As a result, the Chief of Staff, on behalf of the United Nations, continues to administer the Agreement of 7 July 1948 entered into by the military commanders of both Parties, regarding the preservation of buildings and equipment of Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University and the Augusta Victoria Hospital until the parties to the agreement take action in the Special Committee. Under the terms of the 7 July 1948 Agreement, the United Nations continues to arrange for supplies of food and water for the Israel police detachment and a limited number of artisans who are retained as guards and maintenance crew in and about the hospital and university buildings.
30. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency continues to operate the Augusta Victoria Hospital for the care of about 400 Arab refugees. Although the Israel representatives have in the past two years entered complaints against this activity as a violation of the 7 July 1948 Agreement, they have not pressed the complaint due in part to the Chief of Staff’s request not to force its closing.
32 Before the harvest a sub-committee of the Lebanese-Israeli Mixed Armistice Commission toured the border areas warning inhabitants on both sides against the use of firearms during harvest time. No case of indiscriminate shooting occurred.
33. During the period under review the Israeli authorities returned to Lebanon through the Mixed Armistice Commission, a number of Lebanese fishermen who had entered Israel waters. The Israel authorities also allowed some Palestine families (most of them Armenian) which were in Lebanon to enter Israel. A number of persons who had crossed the demarcation line were returned to their respective countries.
34. Cases of theft and smuggling across the demarcation line have been on the decrease as a result of mixed investigation by the police of both parties in the border areas.
35. The Lebanese delegation has made a number of complaints against Israel aircraft crossing into Lebanese territory. The senior Israel delegate has explained at meetings of the Mixed Armistice Commission that orders against flying over Lebanese territory had been reissued to the Israel Air Force. He stressed that these instances of over-flying the border were purely accidental and should in no wax be construed as being deliberate unfriendly acs against Lebanon.