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On instructions of my Government and after a thorough examination of all the pertinent facts by the competent authorities, I have the honour to refer to the letter addressed to you by the Permanent Representative of Egypt on 15 April 1975 (A/10074) regarding the transfer of population in Sinai and to state the following.
For imperative military and security reasons and in order to obviate possible dangers to the security of the Bedouin population of the Jabel Raha area, it was decided in February 1975 to transfer from this area 400 Bedouin families, numbering about 1,500 persons. The Bedouin concerned were transferred, according to their own choice, to either Bir Malka or Jabel Risan. Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross were provided, in advance, with the necessary information on the transfer. These representatives were present at the time of the transfer and stated that they were favourably impressed by the transfer arrangements, the treatment accorded to the transferees and the services provided to them in their new places of residence.
The Bedouin were compensated in the total amount of about I.L. 500,000 and were provided with a three-month supply of food for themselves and their livestock. Those among the transferees seeking employment were provided with appropriate job opportunities and, in the case of recently sown fields in Ein Sudr and Jabel Raha areas, some 157 heads of families and their workers were given special permits and the necessary transportation to return to the above-mentioned areas and to harvest their crop.
As a result of this transfer and the new services provided, the Bedouin concerned now enjoy better living conditions than before. The following public services are available to them or are in the process of being provided:
- A school with three classrooms.
- Two general stores.
- A clinic with a medical orderly, available 24 hours a day.
- Arrangements are currently made for regular water supply. In the meantime an outlet for running water, supplemented by newly dug water-wells, is available.
- The construction of a central mosque is planned for the year 1975/76.
Bir Malka: By the end of July 1975 the following services should be available:
- A school.
- A clinic with a resident medical orderly.
- A general store.
- Improvement of the existing water-well.
- The construction of a mosque is planned for 1975/76.
Special emphasis is put on providing care and assistance to the Bedouin on a regular basis, entailing frequent visits by representatives of the authorities for the purpose of considering current requests put forward by the transferees.
It should be pointed out that the Bedouin themselves did express, on several occasions, their satisfaction with the arrangements made during arid after the transfer. At a meeting of the sheiks of the area held on 2 June 1975, the sheiks concerned again voiced their deep appreciation and praised the military authorities for their assistance and sincere concern.
In view of all of the foregoing, it is quite obvious that the Egyptian allegation that the Bedouin were "forcibly transferred" is completely baseless and does not correspond at all to the facts, and that the transfer of the Bedouin was not in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949. 1/
I have the honour to request that this letter be circulated as an official document of the General Assembly and of the Security Council.
Acting Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations
1/ United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973, p. 287.