Israeli forces on Monday (4 February) completed the second stage of their phased withdrawal from the West Bank of the Suez Canal.
Israeli forces on Monday (4 February) completed the second stage of their phased withdrawal from the West Bank of the Suez Canal. By 1400 local time (1200 GMT), all Israeli troops were positioned behind a line running roughly from Shalufa on the Little Bitter Lake to an area 8-10 Kilometres north of the Cairo-Suez road. Monday's stage involved a withdrawal of 8-10 km from the main road, to which the Israelis had pulled back in the first phase. A further phase will take place in about a week's time.
As they withdrew, the Israelis took care to evacuate every piece of military equipment of value, and to destroy military installations left behind. Thick columns of black smoke could be seen over a wide area. But the "scorched earth" policy appeared to apply only to military camps and sites. Reporters said they had seen large areas of civilian housing areas left unscathed.
In the area they had withdrawn from, the Israelis were replaced by a detachment of 600 Finnish, Swedish and Indonesian soldiers of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF). The area was then handed over to the Egyptian six hours after the last Israeli had left.