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S/3183 & Corr.1
1 March 1954
DOCUMENT S/3183 & Corr.1
Report by the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce
Supervision Organization in Palestine to the Security
Council pursuant to the Council's resolution of
24 November 1953 (S/3139/Rev.2)
[Original text: English]
[1 March 1954
Note by the Secretary-General
. The Secretary-General has the honor to transmit for the information of the Security Council the following report received from the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine in accordance with the Security Council resolution of 24 November 1953 [S/3139/Rev.2].
Jerusalem, 24 February 1954
1. In the last paragraph of its resolution [S/3139/Rev.2] adopted on 24 November 1953, the Security Council requested the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization "to report within three months to the Security Council with such recommendations as he may consider appropriate on compliance with and enforcement of the General Armistice Agreements with particular reference to the provisions of this resolution, and taking into account any agreement reached in pursuance of the request by the Government of Israel for the convocation of a conference under article XII of the General Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan."
2. In compliance with the Security Council's request, I have the honor to submit the following report:
I. THE ISRAEL-JORDAN GENERAL ARMISTICE AGREEMENT
3. Section A of the resolution adopted by the Security Council on 24 November 1953 dealt with "the retaliatory action at Qibya by armed forces of Israel on 14-15 October 1953". The Security Council has called upon Israel "to take effective measures to prevent all such actions in the future."
4. No incident of major proportions comparable to the incident at Qibya has occurred since the adoption of the Security Council resolution. Acts of violence apparently committed in some cases by groups bent on retaliatory action have, however, not only maintained tension along the demarcation line, but actually in-creased it. (See paragraph 10 below.)
5. In section B of its resolution of 24 November 1953, the Security Council "takes note of the fact that there is substantial evidence of crossing of the demarcation line by unauthorized persons of, ten resulting in acts of violence and requests the Government of Jordan to continue and strengthen the measures which they are already taking to prevent such crossing."
6. The following measures have been taken by the Government of Jordan:
(a) Increase of the number of police assigned to the border area;
(b) Increase of the number of patrols;
(c) Replacement of village mukhtars and area com-manders, where laxity of border control was suspected;
(d) Removal from the border area of suspected infiltrators and imposing of heavy sentences on known infiltrators;
Effective measures, both preventive and punitive, in order to put a stop to incidents resulting from ploughing across the demarcation line. In this connection, the Israel delegation to the Mixed Armistice Commission has been requested to co-operate by notifying the Mixed Armistice Commission or the Jordan local commander immediately on observing any illegal cultivation.
7. The number of Israeli complaints alleging crossing of the demarcation line has greatly increased during the last few. months. (See appendices A and B to this report). An increase in the number of complaints does not, however, suffice to indicate a deterioration in the local situation on the border. It may indicate an intensification of the cold war between the central au-thorities. Indeed, since the adoption of the resolution of the Security Council, the total number of complaints of various kinds has substantially increased on both sides. There have been other periods of psychological warfare not only in the case of Israel and Jordan when the parties to a General Armistice Agreement have apparently rivalled with one another in piling up complaints which, in quieter times, would not have been submitted to a Mixed Armistice Commission but would have been dealt with in informal talks or, in the case of Israel and Jordan, at local commanders' meetings.
8. It may be said that, following the measures taken by the Jordan authorities on one side and the improvement and increase of the Israeli border police on the other, infiltration and the loss sustained by Israel as a result of marauding have now decreased.
9. In section B of its resolution, the Security Council has further recalled to the Governments of Israel and Jordan "their obligations under Security Council resolution and the General Armistice Agreement to prevent all acts of violence on either side of the demarcation line".
10. During the last three months, several acts of violence have contributed to periods of extreme ten-sion. I shall refer in particular to the serious incidents in the Hebron area in the second half of December 1953 and to the present situation resulting in particular from the killing of an Israeli guard at Mahasyia, on 14 February, followed by the attack of a house in Kharass Village in Jordan, three days later.
Incidents in the Hebron area in the second half of December 1953
On 16 December 1953, two Israeli soldiers were killed while on patrol inside Israel territory (approximate M. R. 1433-1097). On 21 December, the Mixed Armistice Commission condemned Jordan for this incident.
On 18 December, a car was ambushed on the Hebron road (approximate M.R. 1658-1221) inside Jordan and an Arab Legion medical officer was killed. Israel was condemned by the Mixed Armistice Commission for this incident (21 December).
On 21 December, an armed group attacked a Bedouin camp near Tarqumyia (approximate M.R. 1512-1092) wounding one man. Israel was condemned by the Mixed Armistice Commission for this incident (23 December).
On 21 December, an armed group, using explosives and automatic weapons, attacked a house near Hebron (approximate M.R. 1591-1066) killing one pregnant woman and two men, and wounding another man. Is-rael was condemned for this incident (24 December).
The last three incidents were apparently reprisal attacks for the killing of the two Israeli soldiers on 16 December. Two Arabs responsible for this crime were arrested by the Jordan police a few days later.
Recent incidents in the central and south central areas
On 14 February 1954, an Israeli villager on guard duty at Mahasyia, near Deiraban, (approximate M. R. 1510-1282) in the central area, was killed. No evidence was introduced to indicate that Jordanians were guilty of this crime and on 18 February the Chairman voted against the Israeli draft resolution condemning Jordan.
On 17 February 1954, an armed group, using ex-plosives and automatic weapons, attacked a house at Kharass Village (approximate M.R. 1540-1140) (south central area) killing one Jordanian and wounding his ten-year-old son. Israel was condemned by the Mixed Armistice Commission for this incident (22 February).
(c) Recent incident in the northern area
On 18 February, the Mixed Armistice Commission condemned Israel and Jordan for firing across the de-marcation line on 14 February near Deir el Ghusun (approximate M. R. 1575-1955) in the northern area. This firing resulted in the killing, of one Jordanian.
11. If one considers the acts of violence committed in the various areas during the last few weeks, it may be concluded that tension has mounted along the whole Israel-Jordan border, except for the far south. There has been a quick succession of emergency meetings of the Mixed Armistice Commission, in an effort to cope with an explosive situation.
12. In the last paragraph of section B of its resolution, the Security Council has called upon "the Gov-ernments of Israel and Jordan to ensure the effective co-operation of local security forces”.
13. The local commanders' Agreement which was signed on 8 June 1953 was renewed on 16 February 1954 for a further period of three months 1 March to 1 June 1954. There is no indication, at the present time, of the possibility of closer co-operation between the two Governments to ensure greater tranquillity on the border. As indicated above, Jordan has taken mea-sures to prevent illegal crossings of the demarcation' line and Israel has reinforced its border patrol, but no joint effort has yet been attempted.
14. While a joint effort in itself would not suppress all thieving, armed robbery and smuggling, it would reduce them to a minimum. Patrols of local security forces of the parties, if not working jointly, at least in contact with each other, more frequent meetings and better communications between local commanders best-owed with greater police authority, would assist in relieving tension.
15. Today (24 February 1954) the question of the convocation of a conference under article XII of the General Armistice Agreement requested by the Gov-ernment of Israel still remains unsettled. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has communicated to the Security Council his exchange of correspondence with the Governments of Jordan and Israel on the matter [S/3180]. The difficulties which have arisen in connection with the convocation of that conference have not contributed to create a better atmosphere between the two countries.
II. THE EGYPTIAN-ISRAEL GENERAL ARMISTICE AGREEMENT
1. The tension between Israel and Egypt has not diminished. The Security Council has been seized by the Israel Government of the question of the "enfor-cement by Egypt of restrictions on the passage of ships trading with Israel through the Suez Canal" and of the question of "interference by Egypt with shipping proceeding to the Israeli port of Elath on the Gulf of Aqaba." The Egyptian Government has brought before the Security Council the question of "viola-tions by Israel of the Egyptian-Israeli General Ar-mistice Agreement at the Demilitarized Zone of El Auja."
2. In my report to the Security Council on 27 October 1953
[630th meeting] I
mentioned mother question, viz. the crossing of the armistice demarcation line by Arabs from the Egyptian-controlled Gaza Strip. I pointed out that such infiltration, which was in many cases carried out for the purpose of stealing cattle, crops or waterpipes from Israeli settlements in the Negev, was occasionally followed by Israeli reprisal attacks.
3. During the last three months there has been on both sides an increase of complaints alleging violations of the General Armistice Agreement. The greater number of complaints have been submitted by the Israel delegation 180 complaints, of which 150 allege Arab infiltration and thefts. The Egyptian delegation has submitted 48 complaints.
4. As already indicated in this report in connection with the increase of complaints submitted to the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission, an increase in the number of complaints does not suffice to indicate an actual deterioration in the local situation along a demarcation line. It may indicate an intensification of the cold war between the central authorities. It would be a mistake, however, not to consider in the case of Egypt and Israel (as in the case of Israel and Jordan) possible implications and effects of the presentation of, numerous formal complaints, even if the majority of such complaints concern incidents which were formerly considered as routine and dealt with in informal talks. It is a symptom of higher tension when such incidents are given much importance by official circles and public opinion.
5. During the last few weeks, complaints have further increased in regard to actions along the demarcation line of the Gaza Strip and the following refer to more serious incidents than infiltration and minor thefts.
(a) 17 February: the Israel delegation complained that five armed persons (two of them Negroes) dressed in khaki, crossed the demarcation line during the night and, on the morning of 16 February, stole a flock of 260 sheep belonging to an Israeli
According to the complaint, the Israeli shepherd and his flock were taken into caves and kept there till 5.30 p.m. when the shepherd was released and the marauders returned to the Gaza Strip with the flock crossing the demarcation line at M.R. 1067-1024. The Israel delegation considered that "the above was a carefully planned action ordered by the Egyptian authorities and carried out by a well-trained military unit."
17 February: the Israel delegation complained that two Arabs crossed the demarcation line into Israel at M.R. 1018-0992, on 16 February. According to the complaint, they started to escape when challenged by Israeli guards, and fire having been opened on them, one was hit and was dragged over the demarcation line by the second.
(c) 18 February: the Israel delegation complained that on 18 February at 1 p.m. two armed Egyptian soldiers crossed the demarcation line at M.R. 10884-10486. According to the complaint, the Egyptian soldiers refused to stop, when challenged by an Israeli patrol; two warning shots were fired; one of the Egyptian soldieries escaped, and the other was
killed 15 meters inside Israel territory
(d) 18 February: the Israel delegation complained that on 18 February four armed infiltrators crossed the demarcation line into Israel and that when challenged by an Israel patrol at M.R. 1023-1123 they started to escape while firing on the patrol. During the exchange of fire one of the infiltrators was killed.
(a) 19 February: the Egyptian delegation complained that on 18 February, at M.R. 1087-1050, a patrol of two Egyptian soldiers in Egyptian territory was attacked by armed Israelis hiding in ambush. One of the Egyptian soldiers was kidnapped and killed inside Israel-controlled territory, close to the demarcation line (Cf. sub-paragraph (c) above summarizing an Israeli complaint dated 18 February).
19 February: the Egyptian delegation complained that on 19 February armed Israelis opened automatic fire across the demarcation line at an Arab working in his field at M.R. 0952-0931. The Arab was seriously injured.
6. Since then border incidents have continued, the Egyptians complaining in particular of crossings of the demarcation line and thefts of flocks by Israelis. One Arab was reported killed and another wounded on 24 February. Many of these incidents have taken place in the same area and there may be a connection between some of them and the fact that the large flock of sheep stolen on 16 February has to date not been returned to its Israeli owners. At a meeting of a sub-committee of the Mixed Armistice Commission on 18 February, the Egyptian delegate said that most of the sheep had been found, but that the Egyptian police were still investigating.
7. Faced with an accumulation of complaints, the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission has suggested to the two Parties that future complaints should be handled by a sub-committee of the Mixed Armistice Commission consisting of a representative of each party and a United Nations observer, and attended by police or military officers from both sides. These officers should be the ones responsible for civil and/or military affairs on each side of the line where an incident had occurred and the meetings should take place as quickly as possible after the incident. This should permit the solution of many incidents on a local level. It might also be hoped that co-operation between the local representatives of the parties would result in lessening the number of incidents. Tension along the demarcation line has increased to such an extent that the parties should try to implement the Chairman's suggestion.
III. THE ISRAEL-LEBANESE GENERAL ARMISTICE AGREEMENT
In my report to the Security Council on 27 October 1953, I stated that the application of the Israel-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement had given rise to relatively few and minor difficulties. There has been no change in this respect during the last three months.
IV. THE ISRAEL-SYRIAN GENERAL ARMISTICE AGREEMENT
1. With regard to the Israel-Syrian General Armistice Agreement, it may, at the present time, suffice to report that the difficulties to which I referred on October 1953 in connection with the application of the provisions relating to the demilitarized zone remain unaltered.
2. As for the particular question of which the Security Council has been seized the projected Israeli canal between the River Jordan and Lake Tiberias the work which was started last September has not been resumed in the demilitarized zone.
At the beginning of my report to the Security Council 27 October 1953, I recalled that, in proposing that the question of compliance with and enforcement of the General Armistice Agreements should be considered, three members of the Council had submitted that such consideration was "necessary to prevent a possible threat to the security of the area." I then added that I was also of the opinion that such a threat was possible and that the situation deserved the attention of the Security Council. I still think that the situation needs careful watching, particularly at the present time in connection with the implementation of the Israel-Jordanian and Israel-Egyptian General Armistice Agreements, and I shall not fail to keep the Security Council informed of any development deserving its consideration.
Major General Vagn BENNIKE
Chief of Staff, United Nations Truce Supervision
Statistics taken from the official records of the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission period from 25 August 1953 through 24 November 1953
[For purposes of comparison, statistics are given for the three-month period immediately preceding the three-month
period covered by the report.]
TOTAL COMPLAINTS SUBMITTED
1. Crossing of the demarcation line by military units. 16 4
2. Crossing of the demarcation line by armed individuals
or groups 2 15
3. Crossing of the demarcation line by unarmed individuals
or groups 3 2
4. Firing across the demarcation line . 11 11
5. Over-flights 9 -
6. Defense force beyond allowable strength 2 1
7. Expulsions - -
8. All others - 1
TOTAL 43 34