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        Security Council
6 August 1954


Report dated 1 August 1954 by the Chief of Staff of the United Nations
Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine to the Secretary-General
concerning the Jerusalem incident (30 June - 2 July 1954)
[Original text: English]
[6 August 1954]
1. I have the honor to report to the Security Council on the violation of the cease-fire in the Jerusalem area on 30 June, 1 July and 2 July 1954.

2. On 30 June 1954, at about 17.30 Z1/ (19.30 Jordan time; 20.30 Israel summer time), the Acting Chairman of the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission and I heard shots in the direction of the central sector of the demarcation line which divides Jordanian- controlled eastern Jerusalem from Israel-controlled western Jerusalem. Those shots, which might have been preceded by others which we did not hear, were followed by a heavy burst of fire by rifles and Bren guns. Calls were immediately sent out to the United Nations observers in the area and to the Israel and Jordan delegations, requesting them to investigate and take steps to stop the fire.

3. After a comparative lull, troubled by some single shots and bursts of automatic weapons, firing by rifle automatic weapon started again at about 18.15 Z and spread to the north along the demarcation line. Reports received from authorities on both sides alleged firing from the other side. At about 18.45 Z, heavy heard, with some explosions which appeared to be mortar fire.

4. Messages were sent to the Chief of Staff of the Arab Legion and to the Prime Minister of Israel requesting them to take all necessary measures for a cease-fire. Reports received from United Nations observers on both sides established that both sides were firing, and efforts were pursued to fix a time for a simultaneous cease-fire. Once the unconditional cease-fire ordered by the Security Council has been broken along several miles in the heart of Jerusalem, it is particularly difficult to secure an agreed deadline for a new cease-fire. An agreed deadline may be unsuccessful for lack of time for the transmission of orders to all front-line positions. Thus, neither a first cease-fire, arranged for 20.30 Z, nor a second one, arranged for 21.10 Z, were observed. In a third attempt, the deadline was fixed at 22.30 Z. During the 45-minute period preceding this deadline, heavy mortar fire against The Old City was witnessed by United Nations observers. This last cease-fire, set for 22.30 Z, was observed by both parties for several hours.

5. Between 22.30 Z and 09.00 Z on 1 July, some isolated shots were reported, but at 09.00 Z fire opened again along the entire Jerusalem demarcation line. It became lighter at about 09.45 Z, with intermittent shots continuing.

6. At 14.00 Z, the delegations of the two parties met at my request and under my chairmanship in a special session of the Mixed Armistice Commission. In view of the resumption of firing on 1 July, I proposed that they should agree to recommend to their respective Governments: (a) to forbid and punish sniping; (b) to order an unconditional cease-fire; and (c) to report to the United Nations observers for immediate investigation any future breaches of the cease-fire. With a view to calming public opinion in Jerusalem and elsewhere, I further proposed that the two Governments should make it clear that they had no intention of starting military operations, and should withdraw any reinforcements of the line which might have been made on 30 June and 11 July. Finally, I pointed out that an agreement for an Investigation of the events was very desirable, and that I was ready to arrange for United Nations observer teams to investigate on both sides of the demarcation line with the co-operation of the respective authorities. I added that the reports of the observers would be considered and the necessary conclusions drawn in a meeting of the Mixed Armistice Commission.

7. After my statement, the senior Israel delegate gave the Israel version of the incidents. Regarding the starting of fire on 30 June, he stated that at 20.31 hours, Israel time, a number of shots had been fired from the Old City wall towards the New City of Jerusalem; two Israelis had been immediately wounded; the fire had not been returned and had apparently stopped, but at about 21.20 heavy fire had started all along the line (six more Israelis had been wounded within about an hour). With regard to the resumption of firing on 1 July, be stated that sniping had begum at daybreak at about 05.30, that one Israeli had been killed and three wounded, that fire had started afresh and continued up to a few minutes before the meeting, and that three more Israelis had been wounded.

8. The General Staff officer in charge of the Israel delegations to the mixed armistice commissions added that it had been a planned Jordanian attack and that, on the Israel side, fire had been returned only after a time, when the situation had become extremely dangerous.

9. The discussion was interrupted, and finally cut short, in this first meeting of the Mixed Armistice Commission by the Jordanian allegation that firing had been resumed in the southern sector against Deir Abu Tur on the Jordanian side of the demarcation line. In that connection, each delegation stated that instructions had been given on its side not to fire and even not to return fire. The two delegations agreed that the information just received regarding the resumption of firing should be checked. They also agreed on an unconditional cease-fire as from 15.30 Z and on an investigation of the Jerusalem incident to be carried out, as I had proposed, by United Nations observers with the assistance of the respective authorities on each side.

10. The cease-fire which had been agreed to for 15.30 Z during the 1 July meeting of the Mixed Armistice Commission was of short duration. There were a few shots between 16.00 and 16.30 Z, and at 17.05 Z United Nations observer teams on both sides reported that they were under heavy fire. Firing became light at 17.30 Z, and the Jerusalem area became quiet after 18.45 Z.

11. On 2 July, there were a few shots during the night. At 03.30 Z, an Israel soldier was reported wounded in the Mount Zion area. His body was recovered by a United Nations party at 05.00 Z, after arrangements had been made to ensure no further firing in that area. Intermittent shooting continued during the day, despite the efforts of the United Nations observers on both sides to secure a complete cessation of firing. Such cessation did not take place until about 21.00 Z.

12. There were still a few shots on 3 July, and it was not until the afternoon of that day that what could be considered a firm cease-fire was obtained. However, occasional shots have since been heard, especially during the night, with a rather serious exchange of firing occurring as recently as 27 July, which was stopped immediately by the action of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, with the co-operation of the parties. This occasional firing may be explained by the fact that nervousness has not completely disappeared along the demarcation line. Perhaps also some trigger-happy individuals are not yet sufficiently controlled.

13. The United Nations observers completed their investigation of the Jerusalem incident on 6 July. Their reports were communicated to the two delegations on 8 July and the Mixed Armistice Commission was convened on 11 July.

14. At the beginning of the meeting, I recalled that the previous meeting, on 1 July, the two delegations had agreed on an investigation and on a new unconditional cease-fire for 15.30 Z on that day. However, soon after 15.30 Z, single shots had been reported from both sides of the line and at 17.05 Z United Nations observers, established in teams on both sides to start their investigation of the Jerusalem incident, had reported that they were under heavy fire. I added:

15. I further stated that since the meeting was a continuation of the one I had personally convened to deal with the break of the cease-fire, I should like to open it by presenting certain considerations, the full text of which appears in annex I of this report. I stated that, after a careful study of the investigation reports, I did not find that they cleared the point as to who had fired the first shot. I suggested that the usual practice of considering draft resolutions introduced by the parties should not be followed at that time, and that we should examine the evidence in order that we might, as a body acting under the true concepts of an armistice commission, reach agreement on measures to be undertaken that would make impossible the recurrence of I such an incident. Neither such statements nor my opinion that lack of control over the men guarding the border might very well be the basic cause of the entire incident was intended to prevent either delegation from holding and presenting other opinions. As a matter of fact, both delegations challenged my views. Both--by analyzing statements of numerous witnesses on their side as well as on the other side of the demarcation line, discarding some statements as unreliable, reconciling apparently contradictory statements with one another, putting oral questions to United Nations observers--endeavored to prove the case which had been theirs prior to the investigation and, in fact, from the very beginning of the incident, namely, that the responsibility of the other party was undeniable and that the Chairman must vote in favor of the resolutions which they were eager to move as early as possible and which I prevailed upon them not to read out prior to the end to the discussion in the Commission.

16. At the 11 July meeting, after I had made my statement, the General Staff officer in charge of the Israel delegations to the mixed armistice commissions said that there was in the incident no question of lack of control over people--military, para-military or irregular. It had been a planned attack, and the first thing the Mixed Armistice Commission should do was to establish exactly whose responsibility it was. Owing to the seriousness of the attack, the Israel delegation, which had not participated in the operations of the Commission for some time, had agreed to take part in this special meeting. After putting some questions to the United Nations observers, the Israel delegation would present its case.

The senior Jordanian delegate thought that it was very important to know who had first opened fire. He said that when firing had been started against Jordan, the Jordanian delegation had at once presented a complaint to the Chairman, requesting him to do his best and to ask the other side to stop the firing. He accordingly asked to be allowed to present the Jordan case at once.

The Israel delegate said his delegation had not been in a position to submit a complaint to the Commission before the meeting, since it had ceased to participate in the work of that body. As the Israel delegation had requested first to be allowed to present its case, it was its prerogative to do so, after questions bad been put to the United Nations observers.

17. After the United Nations observers had been questioned, I stated that the Commission was not called upon to consider a complaint received from either party. There had been no such complaint. The party which presented its case first would not be considered as being the complaining party. I recalled my suggestion that no draft resolution should be presented at that time, and added that either party could present a draft resolution at the end of the discussion. I then gave the floor to the delegation of Israel, since it had been the first to request permission to present its case.

18. The General Staff officer in charge of the Israel delegations to the mixed armistice commissions said that, while considering the evidence, the Commission had to establish two main points: (a) who had started the attack on 30 June, and (b) who had broken the cease- fire agreement reached during the Commission meeting on 1 July? The Israel delegate offered evidence of Jordanian preparations designed to prove the responsibility of Jordan for the attack on 30 June. Some hours before the shooting had started on 30 June, two companies of the Arab Legion had been moved to the border, according to Israel information. They had reinforced the Jordanian positions. During the investigation by United Nations observers, an Israel police sergeant had stated that on the morning of 30 June he had noticed eight to 10 men in a position usually manned by three. Two days earlier, he had seen in another area the Arabs "putting up big stones, sandbags and floor-tiles, building firing positions and completing the already existing firing positions". Another witness, an Israel army sergeant had stated that on 30 June his position, after having been under fire from different positions along the Old City wall, had later been under more violent fire "from new positions further inside the Old City". In addition, the Israel delegate told the Commission that the fact that none of the Jordanian witnesses had reported reinforcement on the Jordanian side after firing had started proved that preparation had been made before; on the other hand, Israel witnesses had described the reinforcements that had reached the Israel positions after firing had started, and had clearly indicated that there had been no reinforcement before. According to the Israel delegate, the fact that on 30 June there had been eight casualties on the Israel side within the first hour and a half of shooting, and no casualty on the Jordanian side until 22.00 Z, when a policeman had been wounded, also proved that the Israelis had not started the attack. The Israel delegate stated that, on 30 June, the firing had started from the Jordanian side at 17.20 Z. That time had been given by Jordanian witnesses for the opening of fire on their side, though they had claimed that the Israelis had started before, a claim which, according to the Israel delegate, was allegation only. About 17.20 Z was also the time when, on the Israel side of the demarcation line, a United Nations guard had heard, according to his statement, shots from a distance and, arriving at Mamillah Square at 17.25, had found that it was under fire from the Old City.

19. With regard to the breach of the cease-fire arranged for 15.30 Z on 1 July, the Israel delegate said that the fact that there had been five wounded on the Israel side within the first half hour, and no casualty on the Jordanian side until almost an hour and a half, was conclusive proof that there again Jordan had broken the cease-fire and started firing at the Israelis on the streets.

20. The Jordanian case was presented by the senior Jordan delegate on 12 July. From his analysis of various testimonies, he concluded that on 30 June the Israelis had started to fire at Jordan from different directions at 17.15 Z; that fifteen minutes later Jordan had been forced to answer by some light firing in self-defense; and that the first Israeli injured had been hit at 17.45 Z.2/ The Israelis, he said, had also broken the cease-fire arranged for 15.30 Z on 1 July. According to the Arab Legion non-commissioned officer in charge in the Abu Tur area, an Israel sniper had continued firing until 16.00 Z, and had started again at 16.30 Z. Five persons had been killed and 26 injured on the Jordan side during the Jerusalem incident, all of them on 1 July, except for one injured on 30 June and one killed and one injured on 2 July. Some days before the incident, the Israelis had brought strong reinforcements into Jerusalem, according to Jordanian information. A witness on the Jordanian side had stated that on 30 June there had been firing from a building which had been occupied by the Israel frontier guard about twenty days before. On the other hand, it was not true that Jordan had started building fortifications two days before the incident: the construction of a wall in the square of Damascus Gate had been considered the previous year, after the earlier Jerusalem incident, when 15 people had been killed and 13 wounded in that square by Israel fire in five minutes; the construction of the wall had begun two months before. The Municipality of Jerusalem had also started one month before the construction of another wall on the road of Sheikh Jarrah. The two wall were being constructed to protect the lives of Jordanians from Israel fire. The wall in the square of Damascus Gate had in fact protected them during the latest incident.

21. At the end of the 12 July meeting, the two delegations submitted their draft resolutions.

22. The Israel draft resolution read as follows:

"4. The Mixed Armistice Commission

"5. The Mixed Armistice Commission

23. The Jordanian draft resolution read as follows:

"The Mixed Armistice Commission

"2. Notes further

"4. Notes further

"5. Finds

24. At the beginning of the meeting of the Mixed Armistice Commission held on 15 July, I replied to a question put to me by the Israel delegation concerning hits on or damage to Holy Places or other places of worship in connection with the firing of 2-inch and 3-inch mortars during the incident. In my answer, I referred to the statements of the observers and to a map showing the hits they had recorded in the Old City (30 2-inch shells and 19 3-inch shells) and on the Mount of Olives (11 3-inch shells). The map showed clearly the danger to which the Holy Places had been subjected. The Israel delegation told the Commission that strict instructions had been issued to the Israel troops not to fire on the Holy Places, and it noted that those instructions had been fully implemented. I replied that however carefully the Israel gunners might have tried to comply with them, such instructions could not be implemented in view of the inaccuracy of mortar fire which, by its very nature, was indiscriminate.

The Israel delegate returned, in the course of the meeting, to the question of hits on and damage to the Holy Places. He said that in the Old City there were Holy Places, places of worship, historical sites or some religious building every 20 or 30 meters, and submitted that that was precisely the reason why the Jordanian authorities had chosen to launch an attack upon the Israel sector of Jerusalem from the Old City, knowing very well that if they used precisely that historical area as a base for a military attack, then no matter who started firing first, it would be necessarily a bullet coming from outside the Old City which, in spite of strict instructions, would hit one or other of the Holy Places. The Jordanian delegation, in its draft resolution, demanded "that the Israelis should not use convents and Churches as firing positions and that the strict demilitarization of such places be effected". The Israel delegate said that the Jordanian delegation had no right to make that suggestion without declaring quite clearly and definitely in the Commission that it, for its own part, was prepared to undertake, on behalf of the Jordanian Government, never again to use that area of Holy Places, religious buildings and historical sites as a base for aggression.

25. The Jordanian delegate observed that the Jordanians had not used any religious places as firing positions.

26. After presenting its case on 12 July, the Jordanian delegation had submitted the following proposals:

27. The Israel delegation stated that most of the Jordan proposals implied modifications of the General Armistice Agreement which should be considered under article XII of the agreement, an article which Jordan had refused to implement.

28. On 15 July, before the beginning of the discussion of the draft resolutions presented by the two parties at the end of the previous meeting, the Israel delegation submitted the following proposals:

29. Before the draft resolutions submitted by the two delegations were put to the vote, I explained why, after bearing the two parties present their case and discuss at length all the aspects of the Jerusalem incident, I had to maintain the position that I was unable to support either side in its condemnation of the other as the party responsible for the incident. I stressed the want of concrete evidence of advance preparations for an attack by either side; the point--to me decisive--that the shooting had begun lightly and sporadically and had even taken up after a lull, without any of the concerted fire on which an attacker must count for the success of the operation; the logical explanation of the early ratio of casualties by the construction and configuration of the city and the social habits of the population; the completely unsatisfactory state of the evidence concerning the first shots, or even the time of the first shots. The full text of my statement appears as annex II to this report.

30. In accordance with the position I had indicated, I abstained when the Israel and Jordanian draft resolutions were successively put to the vote. Neither of them was carried.

31. At the end of the statement I had made at the 11 July meeting of the Commission (annex I), I had referred to the grave and continuing risk of unplanned outbreaks of hostilities along the demarcation line, with consequences which could well be fatal to the peace of the area. I had accordingly made the following suggestions:

4. Prompt disciplinary action against all violators of cease-fire orders;

5. A sincere effort to reduce tension.

32. At the meeting of the Commission held on 12 July, the Jordan delegation declared that it was in full agreement with my suggestions. At the meeting held on 15 July, the Israel delegation stated that at the two preceding meetings it had pointed out that my suggestions were in fact corollaries of the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement and it was quite clear that both parties should abide by them. However, because those suggestions were axiomatic, they were not sufficient to provide a solution of the problems created or to ensure a reduction of the tension existing along the demarcation line, and did not provide all the means for guaranteeing peace and security in Jerusalem. In view of this, the Israel delegation had submitted the proposals quoted in paragraph 28 of this report.

33. After noting the response of the parties to my suggestions, and the proposals they had respectively made, I announced, at the end of my statement on 15 July (annex II), that I intended to hold conversations with the parties for the discussion of practical measures to prevent the recurrence of bloodshed. I shall approach the two Governments to ascertain what steps can be taken to prepare such discussion and, since my mission as Chief of Staff is coming to an end, the manner in which the mission of my successor can best be facilitated in this connection.

(Signed) General V. BENNIKE
Chief of Staff of the United Nations
Truce Supervision Organization



This meeting is the continuation of the special meeting of I July. The Mixed Armistice Commission then decided that the grave incident which had begun on 30 June in Jerusalem would be investigated on both sides of the demarcation line by United Nations military observer teams.

In addition, as firing was reported during the meeting to have reopened and to have continued, a new unconditional cease-fire was arranged for 15.30 Z on 1 July.

Soon after 15.30 Z, the time set--and agreed to by both delegations--for an unconditional cease-fire ... single shots were reported from both sides of the line. My United Nations military observers were already established in teams on both sides to start their investigation of the incident. At 17.05 Z, both of these teams reported that they were under heavy fire ...

The unconditional cease-fire had been broken by both parties, and, I am sorry to say, not for the first time during the incident. This, to me, shows a lack of control over the men you have guarding your borders ... This lack of control may very well be the basic cause of the entire incident ... an incident that has cost the lives of 9 persons and the wounding of 52 others. For days preceding the open hostilities, reports were received from both sides concerning the throwing of stones. I have confidence in the witnesses who have confirmed that the guard units of both sides were throwing stones. This indicates to me a lack of the type of discipline or control one might expect from trained military or police units.

It was not until the afternoon of 3 July that we had obtained what could be considered a firm cease-fire ... and as late as 15.10 Z last evening, single isolated shots have been reported in this area.

The reports of the investigating teams were communicated to you on 8 July. We have had more than two days to study them. Since this meeting is the continuation of the meeting I had personally convened to deal with the breach of the cease-fire, I should like to open it by presenting certain considerations.

In the first place, we should follow a procedure adapted to this case. This meeting was not convened on the basis of a complaint by either party, but of a request to the Mixed Armistice Commission by the Chief of Staff, as Chairman of the Commission. I have requested the Commission to take appropriate action by means of its observation and investigation machinery. In my opinion, the usual practice of draft resolutions introduced by the parties would not be helpful. I suggest that no draft resolution be presented at this time. We should examine the evidence in order that we may, as a body acting under the true concepts of an armistice commission, reach agreement on measures to be undertaken that will make impossible the recurrence of such an incident.

In the second place, I ask for your co-operation in recognizing that this is not the place or time for the parties to cloud the air with mutual recriminations.

I have made a careful study of the investigation reports and must conclude that they do not clear the point as to who fired the first shot. On the contrary, I consider that, faced with many contradictory statements, we shall have to recognize the manifest impossibility of determining with any degree of accuracy the movement of the first of many shots. And I am certain that if we cannot establish when the first shot was fired, then it is equally hopeless to try to prove who began the firing.

But even if it is futile to seek to fix the responsibility for the flare-up in Jerusalem, our time would not be lost if we considered its various aspects with a view to drawing some practical conclusions which would help in maintaining the cease-fire for the future. Yet some basic facts do emerge from our examination of the early stages of this deplorable incident.

First, as far as the Truce Supervision Organization is concerned, the military observers have obtained no evidence that either side planned or prepared either an offensive, or even general firing along the demarcation line in the Jerusalem area.

Secondly, I am certain that the good faith of the assurances given by both parties at our previous meeting--that they had no intention of undertaking military operations--has been fully proven.

By contrast, a shameful aspect of this incident was the repeated firing at unarmed civilians engaged in their ordinary activities, on either side of the line.

Similarly, the use of mortar fire in Jerusalem is justified neither in terms of the dangers involved to religious and cultural sites, nor in terms of military effect. In the course of this incident, Peaceable civilians were killed or wounded by mortar fire, churches were repeatedly hit, but no serious damage was inflicted on any military target.

What general conclusions can we now draw for the safety of the future?

First, we are obliged to recognize that there is a grave and continuing risk of unplanned outbreaks of hostilities along the demarcation line, with consequences that can well be fatal to the peace of the area. For this reason, we are all duty-bound to turn our attention to the future. We must work to overcome the immediate local causes of tension along the line; and we must prepare for more effective action on both sides to carry out such local cease-fire agreements as may have to be made in the future.

I accordingly make the following specific suggestions:

1. The establishment of adequate officer and non-commissioned officer supervision of the frontier guards;

2. A firm undertaking to refrain from any retaliatory fire;

3. The complete repression of sniping;

4. Prompt disciplinary action against all violators of cease-fire orders;

5. A sincere effort to reduce tension.

This is a commission where all concerned may be heard, but, I state again, now is not the time to attack one another over issues that cannot be proven by the investigation, I invite, rather, your constructive suggestions on how to prevent such incidents.

In conclusion, I wish to remind the parties of their own affirmation, in the General Armistice Agreement, that they will scrupulously respect the Security Council's injunction against resort to military force. Nor can I over-emphasize the Council's own reaffirmation, in its resolution of 11 August 1949 [S/1376, II], both of its unconditional cease-fire order and of its reliance upon the parties to the General Armistice Agreement to ensure the continued observance of their firm pledge to avoid any further acts of hostility.

Israel and Jordan are, in the eyes of all the world--both jointly in this Mixed Armistice Commission and severally in their own solemn responsibilities as States--the trustees of Jerusalem; and it is only through their own most earnest efforts that this important center of population, with its Holy Places and its religious and cultural institutions, can be preserved in the interest of the two States themselves and of all the nations of the world.



During these three meetings you have both, at very considerable length, analyzed the evidence of the military observers on the Jerusalem incident, argued your own points of view, and bad repeated opportunities for rebuttals. I now wish to present to you my own conclusions.

Before I do so, I want to thank you for your consideration in allowing me a two-day recess. You will recall that at the second of our special meetings, on 11 July, I requested that we turn our attention to the future and, instead of indulging in mutual recriminations, work out practical measures for preventing the recurrence of this most deplorable incident. It was in support of this request that I indicated my own view of the case, founded upon my personal experience during the incident and my careful study of the very same reports and records on which you have based your own arguments. I asked you, at that time, to recognize that it would be idle, in an incident of this character, to seek to pinpoint the first shot and so to condemn either side.

Nevertheless, each party has sought at length to prove that the other executed a planned and prearranged attack upon the other. For three meetings, lasting in all some twelve hours, the Chair has allowed you free range to present the case you thought the record justified. I have given my fullest attention to your analyses and have used the interval you have allowed me in order to review the record afresh, and to gain every possible benefit from your own evaluations of the same evidence as is available to us all.

I shall now give you my conclusions from this review. But I ask you to remember that I am not a judge; I was not called upon to sit here in ignorance of the facts of the case and listen only to what you had to place before me. On the contrary, I am a neutral and impartial member of the Mixed Armistice Commission, but none the less a voting and participating member, called upon to cast my own vote strictly in accordance with the evidence we have all reviewed. I only ask you to recognize that act in good conscience, on the authority of the facts as I see them.

I turn first to the immediate antecedents of the incident. Is there evidence that this was an attack, executed in accordance a prearranged plan? Each party has tried to demonstrate high-level planning and military preparation on the part of the them.

(a) Each side has introduced unsupported allegations of extensive troop movements by the other in the preceding days. Apart from isolated statements by one or two witnesses on either side, concerning a small increase in the manning of a single firing post immediately opposite them, this charge is not borne out in the record. The United Nations military observers, who had good cause to be moving about Jerusalem during the recent period of tension, witnessed no such preparations.

(b) The same point may be made as to the charges of abnormal engineering activities in the construction or fortification of guard posts. I accordingly turn to the evidence relating to the first period of firing.

2. Did the outbreak of the firing reveal a planned attack by either side? Here we are on different grounds from the claim of prior build-up.

(a) Each party has constructed from the record a persuasive case, to show that his own side was taken by surprise when the shooting began. There is eye-witness testimony on each side, including that of neutral observers, relating how personnel rushed to man or to reinforce the posts on both sides of the line. A force planning to open fire runs the risk of drawing heavy fire, and would logically have reserve forces, already drawn into position, to counter whatever the opposition may offer. No reports indicated this to be the case on either side.

(b) I can see neither of the two nations planning and carrying out a heavy firing assault, while leaving their civilians unprotected in the frontal areas. No evidence has reached us to indicate that an evacuation of civilians from the border areas took place on either side of the line in Jerusalem prior to the firing of 30 June 1954. On the contrary, there is testimony taken by observer teams on both sides to show considerable civilian panic at certain points close to the firing line, and each delegation has drawn upon this evidence. The absence of any state of alert may be argued from normal civil activities on either side.

(c) This brings me to a matter clearly emerging from the evidence, a point which, to me, seems both inescapable and decisive. This concerns the pattern and tempo of the first fire. No military analyst can fail to take into account the elementary logic that it would be folly to prepare an attack along an extensive line of fire, and then to open with just a few isolated shots, later a few bursts, only later some shooting up or down the line, and then even a period of quiet. On the contrary, we all know that a Planned attack must, for its own success and the safety of the attackers, open with heavy, concerted, and steady fire. Here, however, we are at once confronted by the fact that there was a lull in the firing soon after it commenced, and other periods of comparative quietness during the first hour; the fact that, according to many witnesses, the firing started with a few rifle shots; and the fact that the firing did not start along the entire Jerusalem front simultaneously, but gathered its momentum sporadically, in successive stages. This certainly does not, from a military point of view, paint the picture of a planned attack.

3. I must now consider the matter of the casualties on the Israel side, and the lack of casualties on the Jordan side, during the first hours of firing on 30 June 1954. Does this fact establish the element of surprise, thus proving that Jordan must have inflicted these casualties by suddenly opening fire into Israel Jerusalem?

(a) First, were these casualties, in fact, the result of absolute surprise? No. According to the casualty list handed to the United Nations observers on the Israel side, we find the following: eight Israelis were wounded by midnight of 30 June. The following times were listed to show when these persons were wounded: one at 17.45 Z, or perhaps sooner; two at 18.OO Z, one at approximately 18.OO Z, one at 18.30 Z, one at 20.55 Z and two at 22.OO Z. By studying the personal reports and statements of the United Nations military observers and the statements of witnesses, we find that exchanges of fire had been reported and observed prior to most of the casualties listed for 30 June. From this fact I find that the casualties on the Israel side during the first hours of firing are not attributable to an element of surprise.

(b) I must therefore consider whether there are other explanations for the lack of balance in the first casualties of 30 June. First of all, on the Israel side of Jerusalem, there are more open spaces, less protection, more streets that can easily suffer an enfilading fire even at night, more activity and a greater concentration of dwellings near the demarcation line, and, usually also, a greater number of people on the streets after dark.

(c) In Arab Jerusalem, on the other hand, to fire into and against the walled city is to fire into a city of stone roofs, narrow alley and few open spaces, all surrounded by a high, heavily constructed, stone wall. Likewise, some walling is still under construction to protect open spots outside the Old City walls. Few residents of the Old City customarily move about after dark. Moreover, the firing did not spread rapidly along the entire Jerusalem front after the concentration of fire in the central sector, where Jordanians are well protected. By the time it had reached peripheral areas where Jordan is relatively more exposed, most people had found shelter.

(d) The numerous Israel 2-inch mortar shells that fell on the walled city on the night of 30 June landed mainly on rooftops and did relatively little damage. It was not until the following day, when 2-inch and 3-inch mortar fire was directed into the city during the hours when people were in the open areas, that mortar casualties mounted rapidly. So also, the daylight hours brought a relatively more equal opportunity for the selection of targets for rifle and automatic fire.

For all these reasons, I can only conclude that the Jerusalem incident, beginning 30 June, was not thought out in advance by either party, and was not the result of a planned attack. As I shall have occasion to state again in my conclusion, I do not, in finding that there was no plan, minimize the responsibility of either party. The incident should have been prevented.

4. This brings me to examine whether responsibility can at least be fixed for the firing of the first shot. Gentlemen, I submit that it is impossible to determine who fired the first shot as long as the evidence remains in utter conflict as to even the time of the first shot.

(a) Before considering the question of the time when firing started on 30 June, I should like to recall the efforts which have been made here to check, as far as possible, the accuracy of the various testimonies given by witnesses. In particular, the question frequently arose: how did they know or estimate the time when they saw or heard what they allegedly did see or hear?

The resumption of the firing after 30 June obliged the United Nations observers to divide their efforts between carrying out their investigations and maintaining the cease-fire. Various witnesses, were interrogated after an appreciable delay, and what they told in the interval may in certain had imagined or bad been cases have colored their actual experience. Some witnesses may have added to their experience precise details calculated to mislead the other the investigators, particularly regarding the time when the side fired across the demarcation line.

Let us consider who is or may be in a position to have information as to the time firing began and developed. In the first place, there are the two Governments, whose army and police commands must have received immediate or quick information about what was taking place along the demarcation line. In the second place, there are witnesses, including United Nations observers, who were close to the demarcation line. Each of them saw or heard what happened in a more or less limited area. He could not know what happened in other areas.

Let us consider first official statements from both sides, prior to the investigation of the incidents.

On 1 July, the two Governments addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in New York, communications which were published as Security Council documents. The Jordanian communication [S/3258] refers to the showering of "the Arab town of Jerusalem with bullets and shells of [Israel] automatic guns incessantly as from 8.30 p.m. ... until midnight on 30 June. The Israel communication [S/3259] states that on 30 June, at 20.45 hours, heavy fire was opened from the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem into the streets of the New City".

In describing the incident, the senior Israel delegate, at our meeting of 1 July, stated that on 30 June, at 20.31 hours, Israel time, a number of shots had been fired from the Old City wall towards the New City of Jerusalem, and that one policeman and one civilian had been immediately wounded.

There followed the investigation by United Nations observers, and the questions put to them on 11 July. In the draft resolutions submitted to us, we find that the beginning of firing is fixed by Jordan at about 17.15 Z, and by Israel at about 17.20 Z. It is clear from the records of the last two meetings that assertions as to the timing of the beginning of the incident have altered during our discussions.

(b) On each side of the line, the witnesses vary by 45 minutes in their assertions as to when the other opened fire--with allegations on each side for as early as 17.OO Z and for as late as 17.45 Z. The witnesses include, on both sides, trained army and police personnel, as well as civilians and various church authorities.

(c) The evidence is not even conclusive as to the place of the first firing. Many witnesses could speak of the first shot as having been fired in the sector of the Old City wall--along the Mamillah Road, in the Notre Dame area--or in the sector of Deir Abu Tur.

(d) I think I can fairly state that each of you has implicitly recognized the underlying difficulty of establishing the time and place of the first firing. Each has sought to reason from a variety of indirect inferences that the firing must be deemed to have emanated from the other side.

But I am bound by the evidence before us. It fails to resolve the many contradictions as to the moment at which the shooting began. It is accordingly impossible for me to conclude that any particular shot, of which such and such witnesses speak, must have been the first one.

5. I wish to examine only one other element. If I cannot agree that an attack was planned, or that fire can be shown to have been opened by one side but not the other, it is nevertheless my duty to examine whether there is evidence of a relatively spontaneous outbreak of these lamentable hostilities.

I wish to stress again the mounting tension along the Jerusalem demarcation line in the days and weeks preceding the incident.

(a) There were repeated incidents of stone-throwing by the personnel posted on both sides of the line. This is attested to in the reports, and military observers have directly experienced this phenomenon.

(b) The testimony speaks of other breaches of ordinary military decorum by personnel posted where the two lines nearly adjoin, including insulting taunts and gestures.

(c) The incident began with isolated shots: according to an appreciable consensus of witnesses, as well as several military observers. It is quite possible that a guard on one side, enraged by a stone or insult from the opposite side, fired his gun. In the tense atmosphere of the moment, answering shots would naturally have followed.

(d) Both delegations insist that their own forces were under orders, before the incident, not to return fire. I have no reason to disbelieve these assertions. But the fact is that fire was exchanged from a very early moment. This indicates cases of inadequate military discipline.

(e) However that may be, after the successive cease-fire arrangements isolated shooting and sniping were resumed. Again, I have no call to doubt your good faith in mutually promising the cease-fire; but it is clear that neither side bad the practical ability to put an end to this sniping. It serves little purpose for each delegation to argue that after the cease-fires their own side shot back only at snipers. The facts show that after the cease-fires both sides continued to suffer civilian casualties in circumstances that were proof of sniping or of other undisciplined fire at civilians. Moreover, I find the same impossibility of determining which side first broke cease-fires as confronted me in the matter of the commencement of the incident.

I do not underestimate the temper that an incident of this character arouses in the forces on the line of fire. But I do stress that the facts all betray a situation in which a spontaneous and uncontrolled outbreak of heavy fire could shatter the peace of Jerusalem--with unforeseeable and tragic consequences not intended by either party.

It is for that very reason that I have offered five practical steps which, I believe, would greatly assist in bringing the situation under control. I repeat my request that you act upon those five suggestions. I am glad that it is agreed that both parties should abide by them.

In repeating my suggestion, it is necessary for me to make plain to you the conclusion which I derive from my analysis of all the evidence as I have just outlined it to you. For all the reasons I have stated, I cannot vote for either of your draft resolutions.

I therefore urge you, once again, not to press your draft resolutions to a vote. What has happened cannot be passed over lightly. Both sides share the responsibility for the casualties resulting from this tragic outbreak. But I again ask you, therefore, to turn your attention to the future, and to the measures which--not for condemning one side we should all work out together on the basis of intuition rather than clear evidence, but for preventing the recurrence of bloodshed.

Indeed, if I am right--as I am persuaded--that this incident had its origin in an unexpected outburst, then resolutions of condemnation have no preventive value, but practical measures to prevent what neither side intended become inescapably urgent.

I intend to hold conversations with the parties to discuss such measures. The people on both sides of this troublesome demarcation line deserve a feeling of security, and it is our privilege, as well as our responsibility, to bring this about.


1/ "Z" is the standard equivalent used in the United States armed services for "G.M.T." (Greenwich Mean Time).

2/ The wounded man, a border policement on duty on the roof of a building on Mamillah Road, told United Nations observers on 2 July that he had been wounded on 30 June at 17.45 Z by the first shot from the Arab side. The time given by the wounded policemen has been contested by the Israel delegation on the grounds that he had been suffering great pain when he was interrogated. His sergeant, questioned by United nations observers on 3 July, said that, between 17.30 Z and 17.45 Z, he had been standing on Mamillah Road when he had heard shots. He had run up the stairs of the building where he had had two men posted, and had found that one of them was wounded. The policeman who was not wounded was interrogated by United Nations observers on 4 July. He had no watch, but thought he could estimate the time which had elapsed after they had left the barracks at 17.00 Z. According to his statement, his companion had been wounded by the first two shots fired from the Arab side at about 17.15 Z. A different time, about 17.30 Z, was given by a civilian who had run up to the roof and helped to carry down the wounded policeman.

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