Statement to the Security Council by Ambassador Eban on Syrian Incursions
(May 2, 1951)
On that day, Syrian forces crossed into Israel at Tel el-Mutilla, west of the demilitarised zone. Mr. Eban read a message from Foreign Minister Sharett:
I deeply regret that recent grave events on the Israel-Syrian frontier compel me to address the Council with a sense of deep urgency. I have received the following message from the Israel Minister for Foreign Affairs:
"At 9 o'clock, Israel time, this morning two sections of the Israel Army encountered a considerable force of armed Syrian irregulars one kilometre west of the demilitarised zone on Tel el-Mutilla, (map reference 2070-2577). The Arabs immediately opened fire on them and the two Israel sections withdrew toward Kirbed Abuseid, (map reference 2065-2565), leaving behind three dead. Two platoons of Syrian troops then crossed the demilitarised zone and established themselves on Tel el-Mutilla and Kirbed Abuseid. These two platoons are supported by irregulars and other Syrian forces in the demilitarised zone and from Syrian positions inside Syrian territory. Israel Army units are engaging the Syrian forces.
"United Nations observers were called out immediately on the receipt of news of the attack by the Israel delegation to the Mixed Armistice Commission, and, at our suggestion, approached the combat area from the Israel and Syrian sides. Heavy fire prevented them from getting close to the scene of fighting and they have returned to the customhouse.
"This unprovoked aggression was caused by armed Arabs crossing the border into the demilitarised zone and then penetrating more than a kilometre to the west of it. At no time throughout the incident have any Israel troops entered the demilitarised zone. Up to date there are four Israel casualties. Syrian casualties are unknown. The fighting continues."
6. From the beginning of this discussion in the Security Council my government has never doubted for a moment that we witness here a determined attempt on the part of Syria to substantiate the expansionist claim to the demilitarised zone which was frankly avowed by the representative of Syria at this table. The events which I have briefly recorded indicate, first, that there has been a violation of the demilitarised zone; secondly, that there has been a violation of the Israel-Syrian armistice demarcation line; and thirdly, that these activities by Syrian regular and irregular forces constitute both a violation of the Armistice Agreement and an act of aggression within the meaning of the Charter.
7. My government earnestly hopes that the Security Council will react with promptitude to these grave incidents and that it will order the retirement of Syrian forces, regular or irregular, both from the demilitarised zone and from any other area where they may be found west of the demarcation line and the Syrian frontier.
8. I repeat that we have no doubt at all that this constitutes in the formal sense both a violation of the Armistice Agreement and an act of aggression within the meaning of Chapter VII of the Charter.
9. As further news reaches my delegation, I hope to have permission to address the Security Council again.