• Short Summary

    Israel completed its withdrawal from the West Bank of the Suez Canal on schedule today (Thursday, 21 February).

  • Description

    Israel completed its withdrawal from the West Bank of the Suez Canal on schedule today (Thursday, 21 February).

    A carnival atmosphere prevailed as the last Israeli soldiers crossed the causeway built over the Canal, to end four months of occupation of Egyptian territory on the West Bank.

    The soldiers were leaving the last quarter of the 1,600 square kilometres (640 square miles) of desert seized in the 1973 October war. All military installations had been taken away or destroyed by the departing troops, and the land was to be returned to Egypt after being handed over to United Nations forces.

    As the Israeli soldiers crossed the causeway in tanks and trucks, they sang and let off flares and smoke bombs in celebration. Some stopped at a row of field telephones on the West Bank to make their last telephone calls "from Africa." Others stripped off and leapt into the Canal to swim the 150 metres (163 yards) to the East Bank.

    The soldiers were the paratroopers who made the first crossing to the West Bank on 16 October last year, ten days after the war started.

    The Israeli soldiers were on their way to a new defence line 12 miles (20 kilometres) east of the canal, in the sinai Desert. Both Egypt and Israel will maintain a limited force of 7,000 men and 30 tanks along such lines, which will be separated and patrolled by United Nations forces.

    Israel will continue to hold a strip of the East Bank along the Canal until the new defence line is established on 5 March.

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    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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