Egypt has handed over the bodies of 19 Israeli soldiers who were killed on the suez Front during the 1973 Middle East War.
Egypt has handed over the bodies of 19 Israeli soldiers who were killed on the suez Front during the 1973 Middle East War. The bodies were returned to Israel at Khirba, a small desert village, inside the buffer zone held by the United Nations. The handover took place on the initiative of the Egyptian government a more that has been interpreted as a sign of good faith, emphasising Egypt's wish to begin peace talks with Israel.
SYNOPSIS: The ceremony in Northern Siani was held with full Egyptian, United Nations and Israeli military honours. The bodies of the 19 Israeli soldier were reportedly discovered last week during work to widen and deepen the Suez Canal.
The Egyptian gesture was made without any demand on the Israeli government. Last week, american President Jimmy Carter announced that the handover would take place and said he was acting on information supplied by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. President Carter used this as an example to show there were signs that tension in the Middle East is decreasing. The ceremony was watched by United Nations troops who control the Sinai buffer zone.
Also present were Israeli soldiers, who draped the coffins of their dead comrades who died in the short but bitter October war of 1973. Red Cross ambulances were parked nearby.
After the ceremony, the Israeli sliders took the coffins to waiting trucks so that they could be taken away for burial in Israel. Their transfer comes at a crucial moment in Middle East peace moves. Egypt's President Sadat, in a recent statement to the Arab socialist Union. The supervisory body of Egypt's three political parties, recently spoke for the first time in terms of recognising Israel as "one of the Middle East States." there's also been statements from President Sadat, King Hussein of Jordan and US President Carter that a Palestine State should exist and be linked with Jordan.
Israeli Defence Minister Ezer Weizman and Chief-of-Staff, General Mordechai Gur, were present to greet the coffins as they arrived on the Israeli side of the border, where they were given a full military lying-in-state.