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UN Security Council Resolutions: The Palestine Question

(October 27, 1953)

1. Adoption of the agenda.

2. The Palestine question

Compliance with and enforcement of the General Armistice Agreements, with special reference to recent acts of violence, and in particular to the incident at Qibya on 14-15 October 1953: report the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization.

Adoption of the agenda

1. The PRESIDENT: The provisional agenda, which is contained in document S/Agenda/630, is the revised agenda that the Council adopted at the 627th meeting and therefore I assume that it will now be without objection.

The agenda was adopted.

The Palestine question

Compliance with and enforcement of the General Armistice, Agreements, with special, reference recent acts of violence and in particular to accident at Qibya on 14-15 October 1953 (S/3109, S/3110, S/3111) (continued)


At the invitation of the President, Major General Bennike Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce on Supervision Organization in Palestine, took a place at table.

2. The PRESIDENT: In a letter of 21 October [S/3118] the representative of Israel asked permission in our discussion. I assume that the Council will ask me to invite him to the table.

At the invitation of the President, Mr. Eban, representative of Israel, took a place at the Council table.

3. The PRESIDENT: The Secretary-General desires to address the Security Council.

4. The SECRETARY-GENERAL: As the members of the Security Council will recall, it was decided on 19 October 1953, at the Council's 626th meeting, that General Vagn Bennike, Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, should be invited to report in person on the item now being considered by the Council. Before presenting General Bennike, may I take this opportunity to express my special concern, as Secretary-General, regarding the outbreaks of violence and the recent incidents which have taken place in Palestine, creating new tensions in the Middle East. These incidents constitute serious violations of the General Armistice Agreements concluded by the parties in 1949.

5. I consider it my duty to recall to the parties concerned that, as has been stated in different Security Council resolutions, the General Armistice Agreements signed, pending the final peace settlement, pursuant to Article 40 of the Charter, include firm pledges against any acts of hostility between the parties. They also provide for supervision of the armistice by the parties themselves and by the Mixed Armistice Commissions under the chairmanship of the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization.

6. I wish also to express a firm hope that the parties will, give full consideration to their obligations under the terms of the Armistice Agreements and that they will refrain from any action, contrary to those Agreements, which would prejudice the attainment of permanent peace in Palestine, which is the ultimate aim of the United Nations in the Middle East.

7. In conclusion, may I make a strong appeal to the parties concerned to refrain from spreading rumours and from provocative acts which would contribute to a widening of tensions in the area, and especially to avoid any premature actions which could jeopardize the Council's present endeavours.

8. And now, Mr. President, I take pleasure in introducing to you and to the other members of the Security Council, Major General Vagn Bennike, Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization.

9. The PRESIDENT: The Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization, General Bennike, will now present his report.

10. Major General BENNIKE (Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization): The Security Council, at its 626th meeting, on 19 October, requested me to proceed to New York and report in person. I am grateful for this opportunity to give the Security Council the information at my disposal. The three Governments which, on 17 October [S/3109, S/3110, S/3111], submitted the question stated that in their opinion its consideration was necessary to prevent a possible threat to the security of the area". I am also of the opinion that a threat to the security of the area is possible and that the situation deserves the attention of the Security Council. 

11. I shall deal, in the first place, with the situation along the demarcation line fixed by the Israel-Hashemite Jordan Kingdom General Armistice Agreement. The text of the item which the Security Council has decided to discuss refers especially to recent acts of violence, and in particular to the incidents at Qibya on 14-15 October.

12. Before dealing particularly with the Qibya incident, I should like to make a brief reference to previous incidents which, since the beginning of this year, have also constituted grave violations of the cease-fire between Jordan and Israel.

13. On 28-29 January 1953 Israeli military forces estimated at 120 to 150 men, using 2-inch mortars, 3-inch mortars, P.I.A.T. (projectors, infantry, anti-tank) weapons, bangalore torpedoes (long metal tubes containing an explosive charge), machine-guns, grenades and small arms, crossed the demarcation line and attacked the Arab villages of Falameh and Rantis. At Falameh the mukhtar was killed, seven other villagers were wounded, and three houses were demolished. The attack lasted four and a half hours. Israel was condemned for this act by the Mixed Armistice Commission.

14. On 22 April 1953, firing broke out at sunset within Jerusalem along the demarcation line on a length of about 4 kilometres. It lasted two hours, until the cease-fire arranged by United Nations observers came into effect. On the following day, there were isolated shots in the early morning and in the afternoon. There were twenty Jordanian casualties-ten killed and ten wounded. Six Israelis were wounded. The Jerusalem incident was investigated by United Nations observers. After studying the evidence thus collected, my predecessor, General Riley, in a report to the Security Council on the violation of the cease-fire [S/3607], stated that it appeared impossible to determine who fired the first shot.

15. On 25, 26 and 27 May, the two parties submitted complaints alleging violation of the General Armistice Agreement by civilians and military personnel in the Dawayima area. In an emergency meeting of the Mixed Armistice Commission, both parties agreed to a mixed investigation. United Nations observers accompanied the representatives to the demarcation line to establish the facts. Despite the cease-fire which had been previously arranged, heavy firing broke out during the investigation. The origin of the incident was the illegal cultivation by Jordanians of land in Israel territory. Armed Jordanians had penetrated Israel territory to harvest crops, and other Jordanians had fired across the demarcation line to protect the harvesters. On the other hand, Israel troops had fired across the demarcation line at Jordanians in Jordan territory, and Israeli soldiers had burned crops in Jordan territory.

16. During the latter part of May 1953, incidents took place which cost the lives of three persons and in which six others were wounded. There seemed to be no motive for these crimes other than killing for the sake of killing. On the night of 25-26 May, an armed group from Jordan attacked two homes in Beit Arif, wounding two women. The same night, armed Jordanians attacked a home in Beit Nabala, killing a woman and wounding her husband and two children. Jordan was condemned for all three of these attacks. On the night of 9 June, armed Jordanians blew up a house in Tirat Yehuda, killing one man, And two nights later an armed band struck at a house in Kfar Hess, killing a woman and seriously wounding her husband. Jordan was again condemned by the Mixed Armistice Commission for these attacks. Both Governments were greatly concerned over the happenings during this fortnight, and a great effort was made to stop the work of these groups, which seemed bent on creating tension along the border.

17. On the night of 11 August 1953, Israel military forces using demolition mines, bangalore torpedoes, 2-inch mortars, machine-guns and small arms attacked the villages of Idna, Surif and Wadi Fukin, inflicting casualties among the inhabitants and destroying dwellings. The Mixed Armistice Commission condemned Israel for these attacks.

18. The information I am going to submit on the Qibya incident is based on reports received from United Nations observers, in particular from the senior officer who is the acting Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission.

19. Following the receipt of a Jordan complaint that a raid on the village of Qibya had been carried out by Israel military forces during the night of 14-15 October, between 9.30 p.m. and 4.30 a.m., a United Nations investigation team departed from Jerusalem for Qibya at about 6.30 a.m. on 15 October. The acting chairman also left for Qibya on the same morning. On reaching the village, he found that between thirty and forty buildings had been completely demolished, including the school, the water-pumping station, the police station and the telephone office.

20. Near the police station one lorry had been completely destroyed by fire. The necks and trigger attachments of incendiary bombs were found nearby.

21. Bullet-riddled bodies near the doorways and multiple bullet hits on the doors of the demolished houses indicated that the inhabitants had been forced to remain inside until their homes were blown up over them.

22. There were several small craters along the western perimeter of the village, and the tails of 2-inch mortar shells were found. Four gaps, approximately 3 metres in width, had been blasted in the barbed-wire protective fence surrounding the village. Fragments, easily identifiable as parts of bangalore torpedoes, were found near these gaps.

23. By the time the acting chairman left Qibya, twenty-seven bodies had been dug from the rubble. The villagers were digging for others who they claimed were still buried beneath the building stones. They believed that the number of dead might reach sixty. Six wounded persons were seen in the village, and the acting chairman was told that there were other wounded persons in the hospital.

24. Witnesses were uniform in describing their experience as a night of horror, during which Israel soldiers moved about in their village blowing up buildings, firing into doorways and windows with automatic weapons and throwing hand grenades. A number of unexploded hand grenades, marked with Hebrew letters indicating recent Israel manufacture, and three bags of TNT were found in and about the village.

25. An emergency meeting of the Mixed Armistice Commission was held in the afternoon of 15 October. The following resolution, moved by the Jordan delegation, was adopted by a majority vote, with the Israel delegation voting against it:

"Part one
" (a ) The crossing of the demarcation line by a force approximating one half of a battalion from the Israel regular army, fully equipped, into Qibya village on the night of 14-15 October 1953 to attack the inhabitants by firing from automatic weapons and throwing grenades and using bangalore torpedoes together with TNT explosive, by which forty-one dwelling houses and a school building were completely blown up, resulting in the cold-blooded murder of forty-two lives, including men, women [and] children, and the wounding of fifteen persons and the damage of a police car, [and] at the same time, the crossing of a part of the same group into Shuqba village, [are] a breach of article III, para-graph 2 of the General Armistice Agreement.

"(b) The shelling by a supporting unit to that force by 3-inch mortar guns from across the demarcation line on Budrus village, which resulted in the damage of some houses and a bus and the wounding of an NCO in charge of the National Guards, is a breach of article III, paragraph 3 of the General Armistice Agreement.

"Part two

"The Mixed Armistice Commission decides that it is extremely important that the Israel authorities should take immediately the-most vigorous measures to prevent the recurrence of such aggressions against Jordan and its citizens."

26. I discussed with the acting chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission the reasons why he had sup-ported the resolution condemning the Israel army for having carried out this attack and, after listening to his explanations, I asked him to state them in writing. I shall now read out his memorandum.

"The following evidence led to my conviction that Israel military forces planned and carried out this attack:

"1. Witnesses to the attack described the attackers as Israelis in military uniform with full equipment.

"2. The use of 81-nim mortars against the village of Budrus. At least twenty-five hits of these shells were noted in and about Budrus and the tails of many were brought in as evidence by the United Nations observer. The 81-mm mortar is a standard weapon of the Israel army, and we have had no discussions in the Mixed Armistice Commission that would indicate that this weapon is used by other than military forces.

"3. The use of bangalore torpedoes to blast openings in the barbed wire fences, concertina type, surrounding the village of Qibya. The bangalore torpedo is normally used by military forces during an offensive action to blast a pathway through barbed wire entanglements and mine fields. On 28-29 January 1953, Israel military forces raided the village of Falameh inside Jordan. In this instance 81-mm mortars, P.I.A.T. and bangalore torpedoes were among the weapons used. Israel was condemned for this action and it was brought out, not only in the discussion of the Falameh incident but in the discussion of the Israel counter-complaints, that Israel military forces had carried out this raid. In August 1953, Israel was condemned for attacking the villages of Wadi Fukin, Idna. and Surif in Jordan territory on the night of 11-12 August. In Wadi Fukin the attackers used bangalore torpedoes, demolition bombs and automatic weapons. The resolution passed by the Mixed Armistice Commission condemned Israel regular forces for having carried out -this raid. Substantiating the contention that regular military forces took part in these raids is the fact that the body of an Israel soldier in full uniform with identification tag was found in the village of Idna after the attack. Again, we have discussed no complaint that would indicate that the bangalore torpedo is used by other than military forces.

"4. The use of TNT demolition bombs in such quantity and with such expert results. One United Nations observer, a demolition expert, present at the investigation pointed out the heavy construction of the cut stone buildings and the fact that many of them had overheads reinforced by steel rails. He estimated that at least seventy demolition bombs were used to accomplish the complete destruction noted.

"5. The use of 2-inch mortars against the village of Qibya. This weapon is also standard military equipment, and we have discussed no case that would indicate that this weapon is used by other than military forces.

"6. The use of specially manufactured incendiary bombs to destroy a lorry inside the village of Qibya. The necks and trigger attachments of these bombs were found near the burned vehicle. This type of bomb was used by Israel military forces to burn a field of grain inside Jordan on 28 May 1953 in the Dawayima area. This incident was discussed at the 122nd Mixed Armistice Commission meeting, and the following resolution was passed:

"'The Mixed Armistice Commission decides that the burning of crops by-Israel soldiers in Jordan territory is a breach of the General Armistice Agreement, article III, paragraph 3.’

"7. The method of attack. The evidence noted indicated that this raid was well planned and carried out by men expertly trained in the fundamentals of sudden and sustained attack. It seems highly improbable that other than active military forces could have carried out this raid without suffering heavy casualties from their own fire, or from the explosions of their demolition charges.

"8. The approach to these villages from inside Israel is through an area protected by Israel military forces. No group the size of that employed in the Qibya-Budrus-Shuqba attack could move into this area or withdraw from this area undetected.

"In my estimation between 250 and 300 well-trained Israel soldiers carried out this operation. As a break-down of this figure, I would say that at least 225 men took part in the actual raid inside Qibya. This figure would account for the men used to bring the demolition bombs into the area, the unit handling the 2-inch mortars, the infantry units used to protect the demolition groups and the units ,engaging the guards at different points throughout this village of approximately 1,500 inhabitants. The figure of 225 is considered an absolute minimum, as, it must be noted, the statement of the witnesses and the evidence found pointed out that the village was simultaneously attacked from three sides. In addition to the force used at Qibya, at least one section of eight or nine men was used to carry out the raid against Shuqba village, and it is also estimated that at least one platoon from a heavy weapons company was engaged in the operation against Bodrus.

"(Signed) E. H. HUTCHISON 
"Commander, United States Navy" 

27. The technical arguments given by Commander Hutchison in this memorandum appear to me convincing.

28. The Qibya incident and the other incidents to which I have referred should be considered not as isolated incidents, but as culminating points or high fever marks. They indicated that tension had increased to the breaking point, either locally in a particular area, or perhaps generally between the two countries. When the breaking point is reached, either, according to the French phrase, "Ies, fusils partent tout seuls", or temptation to resort to force may prevail over wise counsels and restraint.

29. A review of the incidents I have mentioned shows that each of them was preceded by a period of growing tension. The Falameh incident, at the end of January 1953, marked the culmination of three weeks of rapidly developing tension. At the end of December 1952 the situation was quiet. On 29 December, an "agreement to reduce border incidents", valid for one month, was signed. The conclusion of that agreement could be interpreted as indicating a desire to settle current problems in a more co-operate spirit.

Its provisions could be considered as greatly improving the "Agreement on measures to curb infiltration" which had been, in force since May 1952.

30. The new agreement stipulated that instructions would be given to all local authorities and commanders to-strengthen measures to ensure the prevention of all illegal crossings of the demarcation line. It was also provided that firing would he reduced to a strict minimum; that it would be prohibited during the day-time on people who had crossed the demarcation line, unless they resisted arrest. Stolen property was to be returned as soon as found, without waiting for any-thing to be handed over by the other side in return; flocks found grazing on the wrong side of the demarcation line would be returned immediately subject to payment, according to fixed rates, for their keep and also for the damage they might have caused. It was, moreover, agreed that complaints would be kept at a minimum by attempting to settle minor incidents at the local, commander's level.

31. A few days after that new agreement had come into force, the Jordanians captured an Israel driving-school vehicle which had made an apparently strange mistake in leaving the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway and crossing the demarcation line in very difficult terrain in the Latrun area. There were in the vehicle a civilian and three soldiers. The new agreement provided that members of the security forces of either Party who crossed the demarcation line "by mistake" should be returned after interrogation. The Jordanians having delayed the return of the three soldiers, Israel announced on 8 January that the new agreement to reduce and solve incidents was null and void. The agreement provided that, if it came to expiration, the old "agreement on measures to curb infiltration", signed on 13 May 1952, would automatically re-enter into force. On 8 January, Israel also gave formal notice of its desire to terminate the old agreement to two weeks' time, as permitted by the text of that agreement.

32. Thus, on 22 January, the local commander's agreement for the prevention and settlement of minor incidents, particularly the crossing of the line by infiltrators or by flocks, came to an end. On that day an Israeli soldier was killed when an Israeli patrol crossed the demarcation line and exchanged fire with the. inhabitants of Falameh village.

33. On 24 January, Israeli representatives had a conversation with Mr. Vigier (General Riley, Chief of Staff, was then in New York). The Israel representatives suggested a meeting between Israel and Jordanian military commanders of high rank to discuss means of solving problems caused by infiltration. They quoted in this connexion detailed figures relating to criminal acts alleged to have been committed during the year 1952 by infiltrators from Jordan. They stated that the main areas affected by marauders were Jerusalem and the Jerusalem corridor, the plain of haron and the Beisan valley. Among the villages listed by Israel as those being used as bases of operation by the marauders were Falameh, Rantis and "Qalqiliya. A few days later these villages were in fact the theatre of serious incidents. Falameh, which had been first attacked on 22 January, and Rantis were attacked on the night of 28-29 January by Israel armed forces. Near the village of Qalqiliya, on the night of 2-3 February, the Israel railway was attacked with explosives by men coming from Jordan; and Israeli forces fired on the village across the demarcation line.

34. After this flare-up in the Rantis-Falameh-Qalqiliya the situation calmed down to some extent. The talks between high-ranking military commanders by Israel at the end of January did not take place. There were instead, during the month of March,
talks on the problem of infiltration between the senior delegates to the Mixed Armistice Commission. These talks led to no result.

35. The situation again became tense in April until it reached its breaking point in the flare-up in Jerusalem on 22 April. Among the incidents which indicated and/or provoked an increase in tension, I shall mention particularly the Tel Mond incident on 5 April when two Israelis were killed (the responsibility for this crime was never fixed as the complaint was written off the agenda of the Mixed Armistice Commission with-out discussion or vote); the Wadi Fukin incident on 18 April, when Jondan alleged that Israelis had crossed the demarcation line and attacked Jordanians, while Israel complained that Jordanians had killed an Israeli watchman and wounded another. In the Wadi Fukin incident, the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission considered that the conflicting evidence obliged him to abstain from voting. The Israeli delegation then refused to vote and the officer in charge of the Israeli delegation to the Mixed Armistice Commission stated that he saw no useful purpose in the working of the Mixed Armistice Commission.

36. The major Jerusalem incident on 22 April was immediately preceded by the murder on 20 April of two persons in the western part of the city, a murder which was attributed by the Israelis to infiltrators from Jordan. The Jordanians claimed that it was an internal crime carried out by Israeli criminals. This incident was later written off the agenda of the Mix~d Armistice Commission without discussion or condemnation.

37. I have already referred to the flare-up in Jerusalem on 22 April. My predecessor has reported to the Security Council about it, and I shall only add this comment: Jerusalem, when tension increases between Israel and Jordan, is a dangerous powder keg. I have been told in particular by the Israeli authorities that criminal activities by infiltrators in the Israel part of Jerusalem would create a very grave situation. To prevent such a situation from developing, we must depend on the governments of both parties to maintain a vigilant watch along the demarcation line and to stop individuals or groups bent on marauding, smuggling, or retaliation, from carrying out their intent. We must also depend on the co-operation of the two -armies and 'police forces at the local commanders' level. The Truce Supervision Organization will, for its part, continue to fulfil its task. Its headquarters are in the Holy City. It was in a position, on 22 April, to act quickly and arrange a cease-fire.

38. Since 22 January, when the agreement on measures to curb infiltration was cancelled, the number of complaints reaching the Mixed Armistice Commission had steadily increased. Ninety-one complaints were handed into the Mixed Armistice Commission during the month of May. Efforts were made to persuade the parties to accept again the procedure of local commanders' meetings which, in the past, had proved of great assistance in dealing rapidly with local incidents, including minor cases of infiltration. These efforts succeeded at the beginning of June and a new local commanders' agreement was signed on 8 June [S/3030]. Afterwards, local commanders' meetings were held almost daily in various places along the demarcation line and the situation improved to some extent.

39. The efforts to revive the idea of high-level talks between senior military commanders were also successful. A meeting was held on 29 June. In my report to the Security Council [S/3047], I summed up the results of the meeting as follows:

"Jordan is taking measures against infiltration and will continue to do so. Israel will co-operate by supplying information to Jordan on infiltration. Israel will seek to improve methods of transmitting such information quickly so that Jordan can make effective use of it. Detailed arrangements will be worked out in a meeting of high-ranking police officers of both sides which has been convened for 8 July. No further meeting between the two senior military commanders has been scheduled. However with an improvement of the situation another meeting between them might be arranged with a view to achieving further progress."

40. However, no detailed arrangements were agreed upon by the high ranking police officers in the two meetings which they held in July. Existing arrangements for implementing the local commanders' agreement remained unaltered. Neither has the further meeting between senior military commanders, which had been contemplated with a view to achieving further progress, taken place to date.

41. On 31 August 1953, the local commanders' agreement of 8 June was renewed for a further period of three months. From a practical point of view, local commanders' meetings have continued to be more useful than formal meetings of the Mixed Armistice Commission. My predecessor, in his report on the Jerusalem incident, has indicated [S/3007, para. 121 that the machinery of the Mixed Armistice Commission "did not function properly, since delegates tended to act as lawyers defending a case in a court. . .". Meetings of local commanders and police officers are freer from politics and can be more efficient.

42. Despite the useful work done in local commanders' meetings, tension has not subsided, Public opinion on either side has been inflamed by incidents. The hand grenade thrown on the night of 12-13 October into a house in the Israel village of Yahud, which caused the death of two small children and their mother, may have provoked the attack on Qibya forty-eight hours later, that resulted in the death of fifty-three Arab inhabitants and the destruction of more than forty dwellings. On 2 October, the explosion of a land mine on the Israel railway north of Eyal derailed an Israel freight train. The Mixed Armistice Commission has held Jordan responsible for this act of violence which fortunately caused no loss of life and relatively little damage, as the train was made up of empty tank cars.

43. The latest news received from the United Nations observers indicates the persistence of tension, particularly in Jerusalem. Each party has accused the other of concentrating more troops than allowed under the 'General Armistice Agreement in the so-called defensive areas, on both sides of the city. At an emergency meeting held on 24 October, the Mixed Armistice Commission decided that there should be an immediate investigation on both sides by United Nations observers. The situation has disclosed no evidence of excessive troops in the two defensive areas. The situation is, however, dangerous and should be watched closely.

44. The main difficulties respecting the implementation of the Israel-Egyptian 'General Armistice Agreement 2/ have arisen along the demarcation line of the Gaza Strip and also, during the last few months, in connexion with the El Auja demilitarized zone.

45. The Egyptian controlled area known as the "Gaza Strip" is about 4 kilometres wide and 50 kilometres long. It has a population of approximately 250,000 of which 200,000 are Palestine refugees. The majority of Israel complaints in connexion with that area refer to infiltration into Israel. Water pipes, pumps, cattle and crops have been stolen from the Israel settlements in the Negeb. The Israelis have retaliated by shooting at Arabs seen crossing the demarcation line. They have also sent motor patrols along the line, and shot at Arabs working on their lands in Egyptian controlled territory. This has, however, decreased somewhat in recent months. There have been also night raids against Arab villages, during which people have been shot and houses blown up. After every serious shooting incident, Arabs have usually retaliated by laying mines on roads and tracks in Israel territory. The blowing up of an Israel vehicle by a mine results in retaliatory action and the cycle of reprisals repeats itself.

46. One of the latest and gravest incidents in the Gaza Strip has been the attack upon several houses and huts in the Arab refugee camp of Bureij on the night of 28 August. That camp, organized and administered by United Nations Relief and Works Agency, is situated about 2 kilometres west of the demarcation line. Bombs were thrown through the windows of huts in which refugees were sleeping and, as they fled, they were attacked by small arms and automatic weapons. The casualties were twenty killed, twenty-seven seriously wounded and thirty-five less seriously wounded. The Mixed Armistice Commission, in an emergency meeting, adopted by a majority vote a resolution according to which the attack was made by a group of armed Israelis. A likely explanation is that it was a ruthless reprisal raid. This seems probable in view of the fact that a quarter of the Israel complaints during the preceding four weeks referred to infiltration in this area.

47. The Egyptian authorities have taken measures to cope with the problem of infiltration. The presence of 200,000 Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip, however, renders their task particularly difficult. 

48. South of the Gaza Strip, after a long period of quiet on the Egypt-Palestine frontier, the Israelis started in the early summer intensified action against the few bedouin who lived in the empty wastelands of the desert on both sides of the frontier, and north of the El Auja demilitarized zone. Israeli aeroplanes attacked Arabs and their herds of camels and goats. At the same time, incidents of increasing gravity occurred in the demilitarized zone itself. Israel armed groups patrolled the zone; they shot at bedouin at the two main wells; Arabs and their herds were killed by air and ground attacks; armed Israel forces, up to approximately thirty men, shot the herds and burned the tents of bedouin.

49. This appears to have been in preparation for the establishment in September of an Israel settlement at Abu Ruth, just east of the demilitarized zone, at about 8 kilometres from the road junction at El Auja. Three weeks later a new and smaller settlement, Rahel, was established in the demilitarized zone, at 2 kilometres from the road junction at El Auja.

50. The Egyptian delegation sent a complaint to the Mixed Armistice Commission concerning these developments. In an emergency meeting held on 2 October, the following draft resolution moved by the Egyptian representative was adopted by a majority vote, Israel voting against:

"The Mixed Armistice Commission, having discussed the Egyptian complaint No. 336, decides:

"That an Israeli armed force has entered several times the demilitarized zone and attacked the bedouin inhabitants in the, area, killing them and their livestock and preventing them from having water from the wells in the area, thus constituting a flagrant violation of article VIII, paragraphs 1 and 5, of the General Armistice Agreement;

"That the existence of an Israeli armed force and regular Israeli police in the new qibbutz established in the demilitarized zone is a violation of article IV, paragraph 1, and article VIII of the General Armistice Agreement;

"That the chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission is called upon to take such measures as he deems necessary to avoid future, violations of the demilitarized zone,"

51. After the adoption of this resolution, the Israel representative submitted an appeal against it. It requested that the case be brought before the Special Committee, in accordance with article X, paragraph 4, of the Israel-Egyptian General Armistice Agreement.

52. A second draft resolution, moved by the Egyptian representative, was not adopted, the chairman having abstained from voting. The draft resolution read as follows:

"The Mixed Armistice Commission, having discussed the Egyptian complaint No. 336 decides:

"That the new qibbutz established in the demilitarized zone near the road junction in the area of El Auja village is a violation of article IV, paragraph 1, and article VIII of the General Armistice Agreement;

"That the Mixed. Armistice Commission calls upon the senior Israeli delegate to ask Israeli authorities to remove the new qibbutz from the demilitarized zone as soon as possible."

53. The Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission explained that he had abstained from voting because the question of civilian activities in the demilitarized zone is not specifically covered by the General Armistice Agreement. He recalled that at the time the agreement was drawn up, no organized civilian activities existed in the demilitarized zone, and no provision was inserted in the agreement similar to the provisions in the Israel-Syrian Armistice Agreement. In these circumstances and in the absence of specific authority from the United Nations Chief of Staff in this respect, he felt he should abstain. However, he drew the attention of the parties to article XII, paragraph 3, of the agreement which lays down a procedure for the revision or the suspension of its application. He thought that under this provision the parties could reach a settlement on such questions which have arisen after the conclusion of the agreement and which have not been clearly covered by any of its provisions.

54. I share the point of view of the Chairman concerning his decision to abstain from voting.

55. The application of the Israel-Lebanon General Armistice Agreement has given rise to relatively few and minor difficulties. This is due to a great extent to the fact that the demarcation line coincides with the Lebanese-Palestinian frontier. There are cases of infiltration, almost entirely from Lebanon into Israel, of flocks crossing the demarcation line. Such cases are normally settled by the sub-committee on border incidents.

56. There was tension between the two countries in June and July, following a number of armed attacks in northern Galilee, which Israel alleged were made by bands organized in Lebanon. Lebanon, while rejecting the Israel allegation, has strengthened the surveillance on its border.

57. I shall now consider very briefly the question of the implementation of the General Armistice Agreement between Israel and Syria. The difficulties which have arisen are connected with the application of the provisions relating to the demilitarized zone. The Security Council has been asked to consider the most recent difficulty, namely, Israel action within the demilitarized zone in connexion with the execution of a new canal project.

58. The other difficulties are those which General Riley has reported upon during the past two years: the economic situation of the Arabs in the demilitarized zone, encroachments on Arab lands, control exercised by the Israel police over the greater part of the zone, Israel opposition to the fulfilment by the Chairman and United Nations observers of their responsibility for ensuring the implementation of article V of the General Armistice Agreement.

59. To sum up, the present situation on the Israel-Jordan demarcation line is due to a large extent to the problem of infiltration. This problem is particularly difficult because the demarcation line is long about 620 kilometres and because it divides the former mandated territory of Palestine haphazardly separating, for instance, many Arab villages from their lands.

60. To solve the problem of infiltration, there are two methods available to the parties. The first method was agreed to at the high level talks between senior military commanders on 29 June. In my report to the Security Council [S/3047] to which I referred previously, I summed up the results of the talks as follows:

"Jordan is taking measures against infiltration and will continue to do so. Israel will co-operate by supplying information to Jordan on infiltration. Israel will seek to improve methods of transmitting such information quickly so that Jordan can make effective use of it."

To carry out this agreement the parties have at their disposal the procedure of local commanders meetings, which have been revived since the beginning of June. The results achieved by this first method may not be spectacular; they may be slow. The method is, how-ever, effective to the extent actually possible: if it does not suppress, it diminishes infiltration and its dangers.

61. The second method is resort to force. It reflects impatience with the slow results of peaceful means and a preference, instinctive or deliberate, for the old law of talion: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. In such a frame of mind, respect for the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement forbidding the crossing of the demarcation line appears absurd, when the line is being crossed by thieves in the night. The old frontier spirit teaches belief in the efficiency of punitive raid, shooting and killing. The application of such methods by civilians creates the chain reaction of retaliatory measures and blood feuds. It increases tension. If military forces carry out punitive raids across the demarcation line, the Armistice Agreement must be considered as having been deliberately broken in full knowledge of possible con-sequences, including the possibility of a clash with the military forces of the other party. The dangers implied in such a resort to force should persuade the responsible authorities to abstain from it and adhere closely to peaceful means.

62. With regard to the situation in the area of the international border between Syria, and Palestine, difficulties exist primarily in connexion with the demilitarized zone. These difficulties can be solved if the provisions of article V of the General Armistice Agreement are applied in the light of the acting mediator's authoritative comment, accepted by both parties in 1949. In a later statement, which my predecessor, General Riley, read at the Security Council meeting on 25 April 1951 [542nd meeting], Dr. Ralph Bunche wrote inter alia:

"In the nature of the case, therefore, under the provisions of the Armistice Agreement, neither party could validly claim to have a free hand in the demilitarized zone over civilian activity, while military activity was totally excluded."

63. Total adhesion to these two principles would greatly ease the situation. It would mean, in particular, recognition of the special powers of the Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission and the observers in the demilitarized zone.

64. In the area of the Egypt-Palestine border, tension is due in part to the existence of an infiltration problem in connexion with the Egypt-controlled Gaza Strip. The problem is similar to that existing in the area of the armistice demarcation line between Jordan and Israel. It is less acute, at least for the moment. Its solution should also be sought by peaceful means, rather than by retaliatory action. Another cause of tension in that area has arisen recently in connexion with the demilitarized zone of El Auja. The settlement of a group of Israelis in the zone posed last month the problem of the activities of settlers foreign to the area.

65. I have deliberately refrained from mentioning problems other than those which, from the point of view of the Truce Supervision Organization, are immediate problems connected with its daily work.

66. I am aware, however, that other problems exist, and greatly contribute to tension. There is in Israel an impatience with the General Armistice Agreements which is due to the fact that they have not yet been replaced by final settlements. This impatience extends to the personnel of the Truce Supervision Organization, especially when it tries to exercise supervisory powers in a demilitarized zone. On the Arab side, the usual criticism is that the General Armistice Agreements have not given them security and that the Truce Supervision Organization is too weak to prevent what they consider to be Israel breaches of the armistice agreements.

67. These opposite criticisms should not, in my opinion, lead to the conclusion that the General Armistice Agreements should be discarded before they can be replaced by peace settlements. The armistice agreements have lasted too long not to have lost part of their effectiveness. They still constitute, however, a barrier to breaches of the peace in the Middle East.

68. I have annexed to my report some statistics which are based on the records of the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission, I shall not read out those statistics, but would request that they should be included in the records of this meeting. I hope that they will be of assistance to members of the Council in studying, the present question.

69. The PRESIDENT: I wish to thank General Bennike for his report. Since no one wishes to speak at this time, I think the Council should now take a decision on the date of its next meeting on this question. I would suggest that that meeting should be held on Thursday afternoon, 29 October 1953. 

It was so decided.

The meeting rose at 4.10 p.m.

Source: UNISPAL.